Photography

I Spent 24 Hours on a Party Bus

Photographer Hedda Rysstad spent a day and night finding out why students in Norway spend up to $8,800 to party on a bus.

by Hedda Rysstad
31 May 2018, 8:57pm

All photos by Hedda Rysstad

This article originally appeared on VICE Denmark

Graduating sixth form in Norway is a fairly big deal. "Russefeiring" (russ celebration) is a month-long party that kicks off in the final few days of the mid-April exam season, and traditionally ends on the 17th of May, Norway's Constitution Day. During that period, tens of thousands of Norwegian teenagers – known as "russ", a reference to the red graduation caps they traditionally wear – are party as thoroughly as they can.

As a russ, you're expected to wear the same red and blue uniform every day, and to not wash it once. Russ compete in as many challenges and dares as possible, known as "russ knots", and hand out "russ cards" between them – a sort of business card, featuring a personal motto and a picture of the russ in his or her worst imaginable state.

But the real highlight of russ month is the tour around town in a party bus – a 24-hour sesh on wheels. The buses are customised, and some russ save up for years to be able to deck them out as extravagantly as possible.

Earlier this month, I contacted a group of graduating teens I found through the Facebook group advertising their party bus, and joined them on their "Class of 2018" russ tour.

The bus took off just after midnight on the 16th of May in downtown Oslo. I could hear the music a mile away, because the vehicle was fitted with a sound system that the organisers promised could rival any festival. They were right: when I get on, the music was unbearably loud, and luckily one of the hosts was quick to hand me a pair of earplugs. It didn't help much, mind you, and it was hard to concentrate on anything as I struggled to tell if any of the photos I was taking were actually in focus.


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But this was all by design: 22 guys had worked together on it for the previous three years. They said they'd spent a total of two million Norwegian kroner (£184,000) on adjusting the bus to their party needs. Other passengers could apply to join them for the ride, and the 20 chosen students – mainly girls – had each paid 55,000 kr (AU$8,800) for a ticket. The bus itself had already been sold to a group of students who graduate next year.

Could all that money have been put to better use? Probably, yes. But being sensible with money is something they don't really need to worry about until after graduation.

Scroll down to see more photos from the 24 hours I spent as a 2018 russ.

Around 150 people applied for a spot on this bus. From that, 20 people were selected to join the guys who designed it.
A police officer performs a routine drugs check on the bus. The check is conducted and we're allowed to carry on.
It's the 17th of May – Constitution Day. Even though all the revellers are starting to look pretty tired, they find the energy to burst out the national anthem.
Volunteers helping to clean up discarded russ cards.

This article originally appeared on VICE DA.