Malmo rocks to lunchtime dance craze

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Media captionBBC News joins the lunchtime clubbers in Malmo

The disco ball rotates slowly, casting a wave of red bursts of light on the 100 or so faces of Malmo's "Lunchbeat" set.

They are dancing energetically to a continuous stream of 1960s classics in a small dance hall not far from the city's old town.

With quintessential Scandinavian timing, the bopping starts precisely at noon and finishes on the dot of 1pm.

Malmo is just one of about a dozen Swedish cities where dancing at lunchtime occasionally replaces a sandwich hurriedly eaten at a desk or a trip to the gym.

The organisers claim that hitting the dance floor in the middle of the day increases productivity in the afternoon.

"It's a dance revolution," says writer Maria Reihs, who runs the not-for-profit lunchtime party in Malmo.

"When you come here, and you get to dance with other people and you focus on the music, you get new energy, and when you come back to work, you are more creative and more happy.

"When you go to the gym you focus on yourself; here at Lunchbeat, you meet other people and it's good vibrations."

Linnea Uppessal, an environmental project officer with Malmo city council, said she was swept up by the positive energy during this, her first visit to the dance session.

"It was really fun," she said, with a beaming smile.

"It gives you energy for the rest of your work day. Right now, I feel as if I can work harder."

Outside the venue, Linnea starts talking to the city's deputy mayor Lari Pitka Kangas, who is considering attending one of the sessions in the near future.

He has seen a positive change in his employees' afternoon performances.

"Well of course employees are free to go to wherever they want to for lunch, but of course I would like to recommend to other employers [that their staff go dancing]. I think activity is good at midday.

"Mostly I see that they [his employees] are happy when they come back. They seem more relaxed than usual, so I think it's quite good for them. It's common sense that if you are happy, you are working better."

World revolution?

Another first-time dancer, Lina Erikssen, was perspiring as she left the dance hall, but she had a broad smile on her face.

Image caption The organisers say hitting the dance floor at midday increases productivity in the afternoon

"It was a spontaneous thing to come here and blow off some steam in the middle of the day, it was fun," she said.

Her friend, Alva Mejstad, was also glowing and enthusing about the broad section of people who were hitting the floor.

"There are the ones with kids who don't necessarily have the opportunity to go out at the weekend.

"I just love dancing. For me, it's a good thing that you can just go out and not get drunk and just do it for an hour."

Only soft drinks are available at Lunchbeat. Alcohol is outlawed and so all of the dancers were sober.

Using internet streaming, Malmo hooked up with a much bigger event in Stockholm where this craze first began.

A big screen showed a live feed coming from the Swedish capital and several hundred people were clearly having a fast and furious rave.

Lunchbeat sessions have mushroomed across Sweden, and similar sessions have been held in Serbia, Finland, Germany, Portugal and the UK.

The organisers hope they can export the message of dance beyond Europe, and they are aiming at countries as diverse as the United States and India.