Having recently been named the Head of Pophouse Entertainment, a leading Stockholm brand behind some of the Open City’s most popular attractions and hotels – think ABBA The Museum and Hasselbacken, for example – Ingmari Pagenkemper is one busy women. But for us, she took some time out of her schedule to sit down for a traditional fika and talk about all that makes Stockholm such a fabulous place for LGBTQ+ travellers to visit.
We had a feeling we were in for an interesting chat; after all, being named Pophouse’s Head is no small feat, but we were nonetheless surprised by how passionately Pagenkemper discusses how Stockholm venues can continue to raise the bar for visitors from diverse backgrounds. With such enthusiasm, Pophouse’s long-established venues, alongside a range of exciting, new additions, are set to welcome and wow travellers from all over once more!
As the new Head of much-loved Pop House Group in Djurgården, you’re involved with several great venues and hotels in the area which actively embrace LGBTQ+ visitors. What role does diversity play within Pop House Group itself?
My mission is to make everyone feel welcome and that of course means that our staff should be open and have common knowledge about diversity and discrimination. The best way to achieve this is by having a diverse staff, from management to the floor. I’m very humble in the face of that task and very aware of my own lacks and privilege. My leadership is built on being honest and transparent to everyone within the organisation, and on always taking help from my colleagues and challenging my bosses to get through what I believe in.
What steps are being taken to make Cirkus, Hasselbacken and the other members of the group the welcoming tourist attractions and hotels that they are?
Within Pophouse’s different operations, I hope to find a united voice and at the same time celebrate our differences. We offer a unique ‘one stop shop’ with the majority of food and entertainment experiences – as well as recreation – within easy walking distance.
Being located in one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations means that you have to stand out in some way. Everything is already so loud and glitzy that the only way to be different is through content and very intelligent marketing and PR. We are trying not to rush but to think long-term; currently we are planning a couple of outdoor festivals and quirky market fairs, as well as club nights.
You’re conveniently located along the main road running through Stockholm’s Royal Djurgården, among the capital’s most exciting places to visit. Where can you recommend checking out after an obligatory trip to ABBA The Museum?
Obviously the amazing Aira restaurant, the fabulous Liljevalchs museum, and of course, Hasselbacken for the wonderful food and location!
Djurgården is often described as the city’s ‘green lung’, and it’s certainly Stockholm’s leafiest island. How does sustainability factor into your leadership style?
My biggest and most important challenge is to be a sustainable leader both within the organisation and beyond. I have never backed away from taking a stand against injustices. I’m in the habit of not shutting up. Even though I am no longer standing on the barricades, I can’t be silent, either. The most dangerous thing in today’s society is silence and that the limit of what is okay is constantly shifting. As Head of Pop House, I have a platform to lift all the shit that happens in the world. Also being in charge of some of Stockholm’s most important scenes makes my responsibility even more obvious.
There’s been a lot of talk about Pop House Group’s latest opening, a digital culture centre called SPACE. What can we look forward to?
What’s not to look forward to? Apart from being able to watch international e-sports competitions on one of the biggest screens in northern Europe, you can also work from the lush co-working areas at Space, enjoy a healthy lunch at our Skinny Kitten café, or visit our Asian brasserie restaurant, Fat Cat, which is buzzing with DJs, open kitchen noise and lots of fabulous guests. Or maybe you want to actually sit and play computer games at one of our 500 computers available for rent? Or you may like to check out the Avicii Experience Center? There’s so much to do at Space, it’s almost exhausting to think about, ha!
Lastly, with travel slowly kicking off again, why should LGBTQ+ visitors and their allies put our beautiful city at the top of their bucket list?
Because Stockholm is the city of love. And we think love is love is love is love. I would say that Stockholm is one of the most LGBTQ-friendy cities in the world, just look at all the official partners on your website!
On top of that, we have the best restaurants, the most amazing hotels, the lushest parks, the coolest bars and, dare I say, a spectacular nightclub scene!