It’s the middle of the night.
I’m lying on a cot on the street in Oslo, next to 5 men, and I’m thinking to myself: What on earth am I doing?
That is an excellent question. What am I doing?
I’ll tell you. I am waiting in line to get my hands on some of the rarest wine in the world. Every year, the Norwegian Vinmonopol releases the new vintage of burgundy wines, and if you want the best, the rarest and most expensive, you need to wait in line.
Now, let me be clear: I am not lying in the cold, dark, Norwegian winter next to 5 strange men to buy the Romanee-Conti from DRC. Partly because I’m too late, as number 16, but mostly because that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to experience a phenomenon native to Norway. The intricate brotherhood of the Burgund Slipp Kingdom.
I don’t think I know how to begin explaining this. I feel like I’ve entered another world where they have their own rules, routines and etiquette’s. Some of the rules are:
– No pictures
– No personal questions
– You’re supposed to put a symbolic placeholder in queue next to the entrance
– The last person in the queue is in a way responsible to inform the next person who arrives which number is next in line.
– You can leave for a while to eat, shower, go to the bathroom but there is a time limit.
These rules and norms are formed by what I call the Brotherhood. The veterans. The, let’s face it, boy’s club, that runs the Burgund Slipp. They have a big tent, where they spend days planning their “shopping list” and strategize for the big day. The list of wines circulates among them, they scribble and take notes, discuss and then do it all over again the next day. Until the big day arrives.
I sit on my cot, under my tarp, hiding from the snow and wind, while trying to absorb all the activities happening around me. I’m on the outside, looking in. At least for now.