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Friday, June 14, 2024

Partying ‘russ’ stirred plenty of trouble

The hard-partying graduating teenagers known in Norway as “russ” launched into their first major round of celebrations over the weekend. It resulted in calls for 17 ambulances at one huge outdoor party in Oslo alone, even before a major search and rescue effort got underway when one teen was feared to have drowned.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported that around 13,000 teens from eastern Norway gathered for a traditional night of partying at Tryvann, not far from Holmenkollen in the hills above Oslo. Many arrived in the old busses that groups of graduates often buy and then re-paint and fix up with furnishings and elaborate music systems.

Reporters and photographers were kept out of the area by threatening security guards, even after Oslo police had called in all available crews to help search for a girl that her inebriated friends feared had drowned in the chilly waters of a nearby lake. Three reportedly had decided to take a late-night swim, and only two were believed to have re-emerged from the water.

In addition to more ambulances and police being called, divers from the fire department investigated the depths of the lake while emergency crews with specially trained dogs and equipment searched along the shore. No one was found and no one was reported missing, so the search and rescue effort was eventually called off.

Many of the other ambulance calls were responding to cases of alcohol poisoning. A spokesman for the russ (roughly pronounced “roose,” as in “goose”) in Oslo later apologized for the tactics used by security guards who had interfered with the journalists’ work. One experienced photographer, Stian Lysberg Solum, said he’d been screamed at and threatened with handcuffs. “I’ve never experienced anything like it, anywhere else in the world,” said Solum, who has worked in, among other places, Afghanistan.

The ‘russ’ partying traditionally climaxes on Norway’s Constitution Day on the 17th of May. Some graduating students avoid the mayhem, despite the social pressure to join in, because they’re not comfortable with the wild partying and drinking, worry it will interfere with final exams or because they can’t afford it.

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