HELSINKI – Air guitar enthusiasts gathered in the Finnish city of Oulu on Friday to shred and strum their imaginary instruments in pursuit of the world championship of the bizarre dance form.
Under gray, wet skies, this year’s 15 finalists appeared on the open air stage in Oulu’s central square, twanging, jangling, riffing, screeching and plucking the air.
This year’s title was taken by Japan’s Nanami Nagura, who performed under the artist name Seven Seas in the contest’s 23rd edition.
She started her performance dressed as a modest cleaning lady before transforming into a heavy metal guitarist as her song kicked in. Her prize was a hand-carved guitar called the Flying Finn.
“I’m really, really happy, I cannot believe it now!” she said after the contest.
Nagura was one of the seven performers who had entered the final through qualifiers in other parts of the world. The other eight finalists qualified through a “dark horse” round that took place in the host city the night before.
This year’s oldest participant Bob Wagner, known as “Mr. Bob”, traveled from Canada to celebrate his 75th birthday on stage at the dark horse contest.
“I believe it’s their desire to perform and to vent their artistic visions. … The Japanese take this quite seriously, training to their heart’s content. It’s a combination of drive to compete and artistic delivery,” said Anssi Ikonen, the event’s assistant producer.
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