ESN Sea Battle History

The ESN Sea Battle was organized for the first time in 2005 (back then though under the name ESN Viking Sea Battle) and for a total number of 500 exchange students.

During the first years the ESN Sea Battle was only attended by participants from Swedish ESN sections. This event made all the Swedish sections come together and meet at least once per semester in a less formal way than during the National Platforms (national meetings).

The ESN Sea Battle was, and is still today, the first big event of many active ESNers and the inspiration to continue being involved within the network. During the years 2005 – 2008, the destination was most of the time Tallinn, Estonia, but the ESN Sea Battle also travelled to Gdansk/Gdynia, Poland and Riga, Latvia on a couple of occasions. The first videos documented are from 2007.

dancing guy dressed in red skin suit with viking helmet
girl and guy posing together for a photo

In fall 2007 was the last time the ESN Sea Battle visited Poland and Riga, but already the following spring discussions were held about expanding the event to also include ESN Estonia.

In the end the event became a three-country event, involving not only ESN Estonia, but also ESN Finland. The first three-country trip took place in fall 2008.

During the period 2008-2011 also ESN Denmark, ESN Norway, ESN Latvia and ESN Lithuania were included in the trip, gathering in total over 2100 international students twice a year; the ESN Sea Battle had hence in a few years grown over 400%. Spring 2011 was the last time ESN Finland took part in the ESN Sea Battle after the Swedish ESN network had grown remarkably in the previous couple of years and experienced a higher demand for tickets to the event. 

Some fun facts

Up until 2008, the ESN Sea Battle had been coordinated mainly by the President of the National Board of ESN Sweden, but this required a lot of effort and took a lot of time away from their other duties.

When the project expanded in 2008, a new national position was created to take care of the event, the ESN Sea Battle Coordinator. During 2008 and 2009 the coordinator was elected by the Annual Meeting of ESN Sweden, but wasn’t a part of the National Board yet.

At the Annual Meeting 2010, the sections decided to make the ESN Sea Battle Coordinator an official and independent position in the National Board.

During the second year of the first ESN Sea Battle Coordinator, the ESN Sea Battle Organizing Committee was introduced, which was composed of part National Board members and part additional volunteers

guy on stage presenting loudly
big group of people dancing on stage

In 2010, the first ESN Sea Battle dance was introduced (to Swedish House Mafia’s “One”), and in 2011 the dance that is still being danced today (SHM – Don’t You Worry Child).

Before 2013, the ESN Sea Battles didn’t really have any theme, it was just “The Sea Battle”. But from 2013 the team started developing themes and slogans for each edition — this year we are taking a Voyage to Valhalla!

Before 2013 there was also almost no programme on board, aside from the regular partying (without extra decorations or anything).

A Latin dance group from KTH was there for many years teaching salsa, but otherwise there was only the boat’s own programme.

On 2013 moving forward, the ESN Sea Battle’s organising team requested for each section to start organizing programmes during the evening (scavenger hunts, karaoke, games, etc.), P6 from Lund got on board by handing out condoms, and organise speed friending (more neutral and less sensitive than “speed dating”), and the team got the Responsible Party project to bring in ambassadors, games, snacks and water, etc.

person in an elk suit posing

In 2012 or 2013, the ESN Sea Battle Pre-Event in Stockholm was introduced to the participants from Denmark and Norway. An entire hotel and a dance club were booked the day before the main Sea Battle event started, so the participants could also get to know and explore Stockholm before heading out on the Sea Battle event.

students waiting outside Generator hotel in Stockholm
two guys walking in the terminal tunnel towards the boat

During the first years of ESN Sea Battle, the local ESN sections got very few tickets so there was great demand and competition among students in order to get one of the tickets.

Students would queue for hours at the ESN Sea Battle tickets’ selling points, but one of the years, students in Lund started queuing in front of the location where the tickets would be sold already 12 hours before the ticket sale started, to make sure they could successfully get one of the “golden” tickets to the event.

In the spring edition of 2022, ESN Sea Battle introduced its first anthem called “Voyage to Valhalla” which was an inspiration for the upcoming theme of the 30th anniversary.

performers dressed in black and viking attire on stage singing

"Don't you worry, don't you worry child. Sea Battle got a plan for you!"

group of people on desk watching the sea during sunset