From Iceland — Páll Óskar is On

Páll Óskar is On

Páll Óskar is On

Published August 1, 2008

Haukur S. Magnússon
Photo by

Reykjavík’s LBGT community is rapidly readying the 2008 GayPride extravaganza. Pop star extraordinaire Páll Óskar took time out of his busy, busy schedule to divulge some tricks for the sleeves of our Gay Pride suit. Páll Óskar Hjálmtýsson (“Palli” or “Paul Oscar”) is a true Icelandic icon if there ever was one. He has been one of Iceland’s most revered singers since releasing his solo début, Stuð, in 1993. Lauded as disco’s Great White Hope for the nineties, Palli has churned out hit albums and singles at a steady pace ever since, reaching his greatest success yet with the release of last year’s full-length Allt fyrir ástina (“All for Love”). A creative epoch as well as listeners’ favourite, the album earned him the Icelandic Music Awards for “Singer of the Year,” “Net Voters’ Favourite” and “Listeners’ favourite”. Indeed, the hit album has Palli in such great demand that one is confronted with the following voice-mail message when trying to reach him by phone:
    “Hi, this is Palli. I am no longer accepting bookings for 2008…”
    Paul Oscar is also a well-known and highly outspoken gay activist, and can be regularly found commenting on gay and lesbian issues in the popular media. As always, he will feature quite prominently at this year’s Gay Pride bash, and will perform at the Open Air Concert at Arnarhóll, Saturday, August 9, as well as the legendary Gay Pride Dance at NASA that evening. The Grapevine met up with Paul Oscar last week, and got him to comment on some clubs (night- or otherwise) that that have proved important for him as a homosexual, performer and human being. 
    You can buy and download all of Paul Oscar’s music on, and befriend him on MySpace at
Páll Óskar On… Q BAR
Q Bar on Ingólfsstræti is very popular among the young gay crowd in Reykjavík. They have great DJs, throw great parties, and the club itself manages to dance on the thin line of being neither too large nor small. If you like to dance and get properly drunk, this is the place. If you’re lucky, you will probably hook up with someone in there, eager to show you around Reykjavík in more than one sense.

Páll Óskar On… SAMTÖKIN 78
Samtökin ‘78, the National Organisation of Lesbians and Gay Men in Iceland, was founded in 1978, at a time when prejudice and discrimination forced many gays and lesbians to emigrate. The success of the new organisation was nothing short of remarkable. If you’re a gay tourist, this is the first place to go, if only to check out the fabulous library, which hosts the biggest collection of gay literature in Scandinavia.
Páll Óskar On… 22
In the late eighties and early nineties, the club 22 on Laugavegur 22 was my hangout as I was coming out. I look back at this place with great nostalgia, and refer to it as “The Gay 22”. It was like the house itself embraced the gay crowd, we loved it back, and I never experienced a bad evening in there. I did my first DJ gigs there, in the very early nineties. The dance floor was so small, it was the perfect place to rehearse or test your DJ skills, so I slowly mastered my technique in there. I also did my very first performance in drag in there. I mimed to a Mae West record, to a song called “They call me sister Honkey Tonk”. Brought down the house. This is not a gay bar anymore, and I doubt it ever will be again. “This too shall pass”.
Páll Óskar On… GAY PRIDE
The Reykjavík Gay Pride has grown from a small get-together into a massive heart-warming celebration, with more than 60.000 people in attendance. I think the message of self-respect has touched a chord in the public. Anyone who has doubted their own self-respect can relate to this. To me, it is a long-term project. I think it’s important to children and teenagers to witness the Gay Pride event taking place. That’s why we have to do this every year. In 25 years, it will be interesting to see the real harvest of Gay Pride. I look forward to witness the straight peoples’ attitude towards gay people in the future, not to mention gay peoples’ attitude towards themselves.
Páll Óskar On… MSC iceland
The MSC Club is a private club on Saturdays for men only, where you have to ring a doorbell to get in. If the club is open, there is candlelight lit at the front door. The doorkeeper will let you in if you follow the dress code. It is OK to wear tight jeans, workers shirt and boots, not tight jeans and sneakers for example. This is not a suit and tie club. What waits for you inside is the cream of Icelandic gay men, lovingly friendly and relaxed atmosphere. There is enough space for 30 to 40 men, three chairs and one cage. I love this club. If I’m not DJ-ing next Saturday night, you’ll probably find me there. You can get all the information about this club and the dress code at
Páll Óskar On… NASA
NASA at Austurvöllur is the best, biggest and most glamorous club venue in Iceland, hands down. It hosts the Gay Pride party [DJ’d by Paul Oscar himself] on Saturday August 9, which will be the best party of your gay life. Tourists visiting Nasa usually have their eyes popping out of their sockets. They cannot believe that a fab club this size can be hidden behind that rather small and crummy entry. I’ll be singing my own pop songs, spinning a lot of Madonna, Kylie and Eurovision favourites. If you’re wearing Dolce & Gabbana, this is the club to show it off. Expect confetti bombs and sing-a-longs. 

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