A romantic tryst in Legoland
An inspired quest of artistic excellence to find a legendary musical duo during a hopelessly dewy-eyed weekend in Denmark's Land's End? Well, nearly. By Leonida Krushelnycky
Saturday 13 June 1998
The North Sea and the Baltic meet at Skagen in a whirlpool of waves. Even in winter you'll see intrepid visitors trying to take pictures of their loved ones with one foot in the west and one in the east. Definitely more exciting than straddling the Greenwich meridian.
If you're not game enough for that, you can always retreat to the jewel of a museum dedicated to the works of Victorian artists who came to paint the light that bounces off the sea.
We had no time for frivolities. Opposite the museum, we found the Brondums Hotel, an architectural gem. The warmth of a roaring fire beckoned us in. Instead of offering us a room within the hotel, the owner took us outside and showed us a small house nestling in its own tiny garden. We looked dubious until he showed us the bedroom complete with a working stove. Maybe I would get my romantic weekend after all.
Had we come from England to see the museum, or the famous Grenen beach where the Baltic and North Sea meet in glorious pitched battle? "No", we replied. "We've come to see Sussi and Leo." He was too professional to let his look of horror last more than a second. He left with the words, "You either love them or hate them," chilling in the cold air.
We nearly abandoned our quest then. But curiosity got the better of us. What could be so bad or so good that it divided a nation? We set off to find the Skansen pub.
It was ominously silent as we pushed open the door. Three locals sat hunched over the bar. But above them in glorious Technicolor hung T-shirts, posters and even life-belts all adorned with the smiling faces of Sussi and Leo. We had come to the Mecca of kitsch. And in the short time it took to order and down a Tuborg, Jonnie, the most ardent of their fans, told us the duo's life history as well as his own.
Sussi and Leo are paid the phenomenal amount of one million kroner to play five nights a week in the pub. This is not funny money - this is pounds 100,000. They've been together for 25 years since they met at school. Sussi still makes their own costumes. Oh, and Jonnie is Denmark's only Stoke City supporter; his disappointment that we'd never met Gordon Banks was heart-rending.
An hour later, the whole of Skagen was packed into the bar. Teenagers and old fishermen were dancing to the sounds of Sussi and Leo belting out the air-guitarists' favourite Smoke on the Water. After I had lifted my boyfriend off the floor, we stood giggling at the back watching them murder song after song after song. We had stumbled upon Denmark's best kept secret. A musical fusion of Abba and Des O'Connor, complete with accordion and spangly outfits.
During a short break in the proceedings, Sussi and Leo handed out pictures of themselves and signed autographs. Instead of paper the fans began offering parts of their bodies. Foreheads and arms were held up. And Sussi didn't bat an eyelid when the man in front dropped his trousers - she bent down and signed his backside with a flourish. I approached Leo as he lit a pipe, and timidly asked for the secret of their success. He paused, took a puff, looked me deep in the eyes, and said sagely: "I don't know."
As the songs resumed we found ourselves dragged on to the dance floor. Where else but in Skagen could you be twirled around by a drunken Dane to the strains of Loch Lomond? But we knew it was time to leave when Proud Mary came around the fourth time, and a fisherman in waterproofs and galoshes staggered my way for yet another frenzied dance. We did see the rest of Skagen the next day - the museum and the beach and the church part-buried by shifting sands. But the most famous landmark has to be Sussi and Leo. We love them; our growing CD collection proves it.
Sussi and Leo play at the Skansen pub every night except Sunday and Monday.
Skagen Museum opens daily from June to August from 10am to 6pm; shorter hours in winter. Brondums Hotel, Anchervej 3 (00 45 98 441555), has rooms from 420Dkr (about pounds 40) single to 905DKr (pounds 84) double.
The Skagen tourist office is on Skt Laurentii Vej; open 9am-5.30pm Monday to Saturday, 10am-2pm on Sunday (00 45 98 441377).
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