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As such, you were not expected to walk around in private wearing the same clothes you wore on stage." Dance band concerts used to be held all over Sweden, but recent decades have seen their popularity wane in the major cities.But in the countryside the tradition has been kept very much alive, as Nilars explains: "Outside the cities there is not that much to do, especially if you want to go and dance, and that is where the dance bands come in.

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Especially considering it usually involves watching middle aged men wearing a tad too closely fitting all-in-ones singing about themes pretty much disconnected from mainstream music (they're not exactly going to make it onto MTV are they? "There are a lot of different possible answers as to why dance bands are so popular, but to be honest, who knows! Not even the people who sing in them seem to really know quite why they have endured.There is nothing prohibiting women from joining dance bands, but male only groups, or groups with only a female lead, have always been predominant.Love, friendship, peace and dancing are typical themes for songs and often include a fair dose of nostalgia and patriotism.At the time, the prominence of disco music was the most obvious reason for the outlandish outfits, but the continued use of the costumes by many current day dance bands is somewhat inexplicable."I have no idea why they still wear them," comments Kristofer Kebbon, a pop music expert at the Swedish Music Information Centre.It's a great form of evening entertainment in rural areas." Although not attracting as much of the limelight as more mainstream pop or rock groups, dance bands have a loyal following.

Analyzing the role of dance bands in Sweden's music industry, Kebbon says the genre "definitely plays a big part”.

"Dance bands have never really featured that much in the media, but they do get played on the radio and there are a lot of events, especially live performances." "And it's not only older people, as you might think," says Nilars.

"Many people of different ages are interested in dance bands and travel all over the country to see their favourite groups play." Helped along by the success of SVT's Dansbandskampen, dance bands do seem to be enjoying something of a revival.

Musical styles may come and go, but Swedish dance bands remain as popular as ever.

But why does the nation remain loyal to its perennial bearers of outrageous costumes? Dance bands have been a central part of the Swedish music scene for over thirty years, but what on earth are they and what makes them so enduringly popular?

" But in the preface to a recent book on the phenomenon, Svenska Dansband (2007), Inge Fridén from the group Garvis also pointed to a financial incentive that went some way towards explaining the outlandish costumes.