Short for k a l l b a d h u s e t .
Which means the cold bathing house. Yes, you read that right. A place you go to to then swim naked in the sea regardless which season of the year that happens to be gracing Sweden. When I told my friends about it when visiting them in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year I was met with shock and scepticism, mostly about the nudity.
When I was first told about kallis, I was more in shock over the thought that some people actually deliberately throw themselves into the freezing sea. But I decided little over a year ago to try it for myself.
Since then, I’ve never stopped going and can frankly not ever imagine leaving Malmö to go live somewhere else permanently. Not because of the great coffee scene or the wonderful people here, but because of my self-care routine that today involves sweating all of my heaviest emotions out onto the surface of my skin in a crowded and very nude sauna, before letting those same thoughts slip right off my skin and disappear into the dark and freezing sea.
Gosh. That got both deep and a tad dramatic very fast.
Although this concept is very therapeutic and I recommend everyone to try it at least once, what truly fascinates me about this place is the fact that it is probably the only place where generations of women all share the same space in Malmö. You get it all : the tweenies, the twenties, the thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies and then we have the the sauna veterans where it is next to impossible to set an age to. This thought first hit me when I was sitting in the scorching hot sauna a few weeks ago on my own , listening to all the conversations going on in there.
Women of all ages were sharing details on everything from their loved ones, their divorce, their fears over spending Christmas with their messy family, the latest read book, their latest sexual experience, their dreams and discussing whether they should have coffee after the next dip or just head home. It did not matter how old we were, we were all just sitting there – BUTT NAKED – and talking about our lives as if nothing else in the world existed. A space where generations of women meet year in and year out.
I often find that when traveling, especially to France and Brazil ( absolutely not exclusively these places but I will use them as my reference) I observe groups of people sitting on terraces interacting with each other , not much different to what people do back home. But what stands out to me is that there is a huge generation mix present in the same groups of people. Older people talking to so-called millenials, sometimes older kids are present and there is something utterly beautiful about this vision and something I wish I had more of in my life.
Because what better way to learn about life and experiences than people who have already lived the years you have not yet reached? And what better way to reconnect with the child inside of you than talking to people younger than you?
For now, I will keep eavesdropping on conversations in kallis – but during the coming year one of my goals is to properly converse with strangers at kallis and ask questions about their relationship to the place.
If you happen to go there yourself : You have been warned. I will talk to you !