Phenomena’s internal meeting in Arboga

OK, so this was it!

I had been recruited by Phenomena after only having made a few demos for my local computer store (Chara’ Data) and a local 4-boy group (B.R.A.I.N.S.), and now it was time for a super secret Internal Meeting – I would finally meet the guys who had made Phenomena Megademo and that I had talked to over the phone!

It was the winter 1989/1990, and I was to go to the mid-Sweden town of Arboga, famed for its beer and liver pate. And now also for its demoscene!

My train ticket didn’t take me all the way, so the first mission on my quest (if I chose to accept it) turned out to be dragging my hockey trunk containing A500 and 14″ TV across some town. Someone had thought it a wise idea to put the bus terminal at the other end of town from the train station. After a 40 minute power-limp involving traversing the longest bridge in Arboga County, I experienced an enclosed bus waiting hall for 2 hours, that was something strange for a 17-year old boy from Sticksville…

Luckily I had been trained in martial arts, else I doubt I’d have survived the arduous journey. No, really. (No, not really. Teenagers going to copy-parties are as strong as mules.)

Set 50m across from a pizzeria (another novelty back then!) in a murky cellar where the sun don’t shine, there was the party place! (I’m trying to figure out a more perfect place for computer hacking, but I can’t come up with anything…)

It was perhaps 3x5m room with desks and chairs, and all the guys hadn’t arrived yet. I think Dreamwarrior was there when I finally slumped my black and red leather Puma hockey bag on the floor. I hoped Firefox and 4042 would be there, but from memory they never made it.

Begin the decadent hacking of code and consumption of sugary beverages!

But, first thing’s first. We went through the swapper’s latest aquisitions and marveled at the new demos. Of course, we ruthlessly and callously scorned anything that wasn’t up to snuff, too, saying how much better we could have done it! But it was vital to check out the competition. The one memory I have of this high-adrenaline session was some demo with copper effects and a very good Axel F cover that I listened to repeatedly.

(Sorry… went away there searching for it on BitWorld… I’m back now. It must have been this, likely making the meet date feb/mar 1990.)

Kefrens Megademo 8, Rotate part, music by Nightlight

Kefrens Megademo 8, Rotate part, music by Nightlight

Intense sessions of coding, composing, and color-wizardry commenced, briefly interrupted by food and sleep.

A bit later the first night, Mr. Gurk arrived. He, like me, had brought a TV. I don’t think that many resellers had C1081 monitors in store at the time. Mine was a silver-plastic 14″ Grundig(?) TV, where the brightness and contrast couldn’t be adjusted because Mahoney/Northstar had crushed the potentiometers when he closed the trunk of his car on them when I was picked up at the train station for the Defiers copy party half a year earlier.

And this time, the terrible TV modulator would prove to have one more downside, apart from showing a crappy picture and preventing the screen from being at an optimal 15 cm from the coder!

Mr. Gurk had hand-sawed a somewhat rectangular hole in the top grille of his A500 case, to fit an equalizer kit he had ordered and built. It consisted of a circuit and about 7 green and 3 red rectangular LEDs per stereo channel. Only when he demonstrated it, it wasn’t stereo! Sure enough, when the little 2-to-1 cable from L and R was disconnected from the A500 the equalizers moved in stereo, to great effect. We couldn’t have sound at the same time, but what the hell… you can’t have it all.

On the all food breaks, we went to the pizzeria. The italians (I think pizzerias actually had italians in them back then!) must have wondered

  • WHAT
  • THE
  • HELL

we were talking about at the table! We were probably like aliens among cowboys, talking in a strange tongue saying things like “Have you seen the new blarg by Dufarg? It has blinkenspiel and the gnorts is really well made. But it’s a secret, it hasn’t been miklagarded yet.”

I remember eating my first half-baked (folded-over normal pizza) there. Swelled up from being in the oven, it looked like a tasty baby dragon with its head,tails and feet cut off. Looked good, but didn’t finish it, because it “tasted murky and was too hot to eat”. Fucking sissy. And true to myself, after one of the meals and conversations, I made the inevitable stupid booboo. With me, there’s always one. I let out a “So, when is Dreamwarrior coming?” rendering a baffled silence around the table. Of course he sat right there at the table, but apparently the memory of his introducing himself to me hours earlier gone *whoosh* out of my brain. Upon which of course followed the gang pointing at him and going “Errr… he’s right there” in disbelief (and silent internal wailing and gnashing of teeth followed).

One of the weekend nights, it was around midnight (very late for brittle teens, but lots of hours left to hack in for demoscene heroes) when it was decided we’d go out to town. In a mall-like area, there were the “normals” (defined as anyone not in the demoscene) staying up late for no good reason (unlike ourselves!)

“Young coder-hands must be protected from chilly nights!”

We were passing a gaggle of drunk rockers (in their KISS and WASP black leather jackets with hundreds of EUR worth of studs in them), when Mr. Gurk (he was kind of a show-off) in his synth attire with newly aquired tight-fitting leather gloves (Young coder-hands must be protected from chilly nights!) decided to put the gloves on in the chilly night and looking provokingly at the rockers while zipping the small zippers on the gloves. There was a stir among the rockers, their eyes casting dark glances in our direction. I remember one of the members saying sharply, “Cut it out, Gurk”, but I don’t know who it was. I think we almost got a Rock vs. Synth war on our hands that night!

“Anyvay.” We survived to see another night of pointless/soul-fulfilling computer activity (take your pick!) in the cellar that was glorious because it had us in it. Only vague memories come back to me, but I think Dreamwarrior coded some game, I coded ‘vector snowflakes’ and made a Terminator-style logo and someone annoyed us with Soundtracker, and that sleeping was accomplished with the usual pillow-on-table or bed-roll-under table method.

Some months later, Phenomena & Censor Design would hold the Arboga Party in a school in the same town, which really had some funny and good releases. I still remember the Groovy Bits logo!

Your demoscene archeologist,


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