What happens in Roninmäki stays in Roninmäki. Well, not this time. Going through wild rumours, false names and evasive replies, we found out what the famous M-parties are all about.
Midnight, the last Saturday of October. I make my way to Roninmäki for the first time in my life. I’m heading to the party so many people talk about. The M-building party. The theme is Halloween.
When approaching the location I notice a police car driving towards the M-building.
”Wow, the stories were actually true”, I think to myself.
I can hear loud music from afar. So can the police, obviously. They step out of their car on the other side of the street. Are they coming to stop the party before I even make it there?
Thank goodness, they aren’t. They just roam around a bit and leave. So far so good.
From the outside, the M-building looks dull, and it’s surrounded by just as dull pine trees. It is actually hard to imagine that the party mecca is here.
Looks can be deceiving, though. That’s what I find out when I step inside the building.
The stairway is packed with people. Most of them are dressed up according to the theme. Girls look like Taylor Momsen and guys look like Alice Cooper.
The people compose a spiral from the bottom of the building all the way to the top floor. There is a flood of people. Hundreds of people. Some are trying to make their way up, some down.
The noise is loud and it builds up with the chatter of all those three hundred or so party people. It’s hard to recognize the languages. Together they sound strange but surprisingly cozy.
Some residents have opened their apartments for the party. In one tiny apartment there is a DJ playing. In the same building there are various clubs people can choose from. Inventive.
It’s a unique concept for a party. It’s somehow chaotic but somehow very well organized. And everyone seems to be having fun.
I’m in awe of these people. It’s like they have their own little secret community here inside this ugly building, in the middle of the woods in Finland. Except from the fact that it’s not so
little. And it’s not so secret either.
So how the heck did I end up here?
The M-building is located in Roninmäki, Jyväskylä. It is a KOAS apartment building and known to be populated by exchange students.
Around the campus and beyond, you hear a lot of stories about the building. I was first intrigued by it when my friend, who had been tutoring exchange students some years ago, told me about the building’s insane theme parties. White party, red party, Friday party, Saturday party, pizza party… She said there was a party for everything and all the exchange students joined them.
I googled the building and found blog writings, Facebook pages and even YouTube videos dedicated to the M. One blog post from 2011 claimed that the building was famous also outside the Finnish borders. According to the post, the Erasmus students in Europe know the M-building as THE party building. Many wish to be accommodated there when arriving to study in Jyväskylä.
Looking more into the subject, one word started to describe the building at its best: controversial. One of my first sources of information praised the M-parties. Another source of mine disagreed:
”I think you shouldn’t write about the M. The parties are probably illegal and the authorities may have even banned them.”
Though there were rumors all around – some saying that the parties were long gone because of underage drinking, theft and vandalism – it was somewhat difficult to get behind the M-myth.
And then, finally, I came across Kim Dexter’s Facebook profile.
Dexter, who in his profile calls himself ”the janitor at the M-building”, seemed to be exactly the person I was looking for. I reached out to him, hoping to make some progress with my investigations.
After a while he replied to me. It turned out Kim Dexter was actually only a virtual character kept up by the party organizers. The person behind Kim Dexter doesn’t want to have his – or hers – real name published.
I asked the person who replied to me for an interview. After some time of deliberation, I got an answer:
”Ok… We agreed to give you the information.”
Dexter says he started organizing the parties last year. Before that, the M-building was already long known as the party building of the exchange students of Jyväskylä. According to Dexter, there were even six to seven hundred people partying under the same M-roof in the building’s most glorious days.
Lately, things haven’t gone so smoothly for the party people of the M.
”This semester, the residents of the building haven’t been willing to open their apartments for the party. Before, people loved to open their apartments. We became like family”, Dexter
The M-building parties were earlier organized by teamwork. There were teams for ideation, organizing and decorating, for example.
”Now it’s difficult to get people to volunteer”, Dexter says.
”Some people think we are doing this for business but it’s not true. We are having these parties because we love to entertain people.”
Confrontations with KOAS have always been a challenge for the M-party organizers, also for Dexter.
”I personally got warned by KOAS a couple of times. We organizers and
KOAS made a deal that after each M-party we would clean the whole building. And we do that.”
Despite setbacks, Dexter and his friends keep on organizing the parties.
”The party must go on. And it will. KOAS and the police are always trying to stop us. Sometimes I don’t understand why these parties are so wrong. We don’t do crime, we just entertain. This party is the bridge between all international students here.”
Well Dexter, when will you host the next party?
”We’re going to organize a Halloween party soon. And you are invited.”
”We hope the M-building spirit is alive and well”
Tiia Matilainen from KOAS thinks the M-building has earned its reputation. According to her, the parties have somewhat calmed down during the recent semesters.
”At its worst, we received complaints from the houses in the neighborhood. The music was so loud the people living close by could hear it to their homes”, states Matilainen.
Some of the previous parties have gotten out of the hands of the organizers. Matilainen believes those experiences have made the organizers realize the apartment building isn’t a suitable venue for massive parties. Matilainen says that KOAS is pleased with the current calmer phase.
”Nothing has been broken in a long time and the building has been cleaned up after the parties”, she says.
”We hope the M-building spirit is alive and well. It’s great to read comments from the previous residents who say their time in the M-building was the best time of their lives”, Matilainen ends.
In Finnish: Salaperäisten M-bileiden jäljillä