|Islands Brygge, April, 2011|
Here are some of the more interesting festivals and events that I had the great sociological fortune to be a part of during my stay in Denmark and some of the observations I took away.
1) Distortion: The Open Source Party
Imagine a city that likes to drink. Really likes to drink. But instead of getting all Spring-Break-Girls-Gone-Wild-trashy, it gets all warm and fuzzy and fun. Imagine for four (it's up to five this year) days, that city sponsors a big street party that moves from neighborhood to neighborhood, spanning indoor and outdoor venues, closing down whole blocks and sections of a major metropolitan area. And then cleans up the mess!
From its own website:
"Distortion is a carnival-type event with an anything-goes attitude. Most events are free and open-sourced to over a hundred 'street hosts' - that's over one hundred distinct street parties in 5 days."
If you want to skip the video, or have impressionable American children or coworkers looking over your shoulder, here are some of the highlights:
0:38 The 'old' people
0:57 The 'really old' guy
1:15 The retro roller skates, most likely worn by someone not 'old'
1:19 The tango couple
2:09 Bananas in Pajamas (not kidding)
You'll have to go the website and watch some of the other videos to catch the kids on bikes, riding parents' shoulders, and break-dancing in backpacks. I'm pretty sure there's not a demographic that isn't covered which lends a kind of what-would-happen-if-your-parents-showed-up-at-Spring-Break feel. Apparently the answer in Copenhagen might be hang out and party with you...
2) Kulturhavn (Culture Harbor): The Pirate Party
Spanning three days and three of the city's biggest public harbor areas, Islands Brygge, Sydhavnen, and Refshaleøen, this festival brings together the 'diversity of Copenhagen's clubs and civic organizations' to showcase music, theater, dance, sports and arts. Or, said another way, it allows a participant to walk along the harbor front and through a mash-up of anything you could imagine anyone being into. Ever.
Amazingly, these photographs were all taken on the same day, at the same festival.
A member of the Scottish bagpipe band.
A demonstration of parkour - French street acrobatics.
A flash mob of dancers.
Drowned bicycles recycled as art.
And finally, because, what's a harbor festival without pirates?
3) Copenhagen Cooking: Let Them Eat Cake
A ten-day festival celebrating the cuisine being fawned over by the international foodie scene, the promotional ad could not have been more blunt in trying to get across the idea: New Nordic is sexy.
That's New Nordic food we're talking about here, people. Food. I can assure you, any fixation on that image in the weeks leading up to the event were strictly trying to determine, 'Is that lovage or chervil she is draped in?"
All joking aside, events were held across the city, for all ages, and at varying price points, to allow the general public to peek inside the movement that in some ways has been limited to those with extremely large expense accounts or who just happen to have 'verjus' kicking around in their pantry.
At the signature Nordic Taste event, restaurants from all over Scandinavia set up in the Meatpacking district and small samples of cooking as high art were doled out to the masses.
4) Stella Polaris: Chill to the People
This kicking back while listening to electronic music festival spent two days traveling to other cities before culminating in a giant lawn party outside the Statens Museet for Kunst (National Art Museum) with Moby as the headline act. Did I neglect to mention that all these events were also free? This one is supported through a foundation that solicits donations (as well as corporate sponsorship) but there was no entry fee to get in, just some good-natured jostling for a prime spot on the grass.
|The early crowd|
"The crowd is a great mix of discerning electronic feinschmeckers, happy families with playing children, intoxicated after-parties, smooching couples sharing kisses and cool white wine, and the odd surprised group who just happened to walk by and decided to stay."
|Balancing out all the excess wth some fruit, |
organic of course
A children's art area and un-supervised kids running around with their parents' cell phone numbers written in marker on their arms completed the un-American family-friendly vibe.
So here's to Spring, with its promise of warmer things to come. May we all come out of hibernation and live a little.