Emily Shaw: Copenhagen Comes Alive

They say that when the sun comes out, all of Copenhagen comes alive. This was made exceedingly clear with the unofficial start of summer in Denmark: the four-day music and street party festival known as Distortion.

Foam party in the streets (I didn't join in...)
Foam party in the streets (I didn’t join in…)

Self-described as an ‘annual party-tsunami over Copenhagen,’ the festival occurred from Wednesday the 4th to Saturday the 7th, starting in the borough of Nørrebro, then moving to Vesterbro, and culminating in a 2-day ticketed party on the nearby island of Refshaleøen.

The crowd at Nørrebro on the first day

Although I was initially apprehensive about attending – I don’t listen to the kinds of music the festival featured – all of my Danish friends said I had to go, and I’m so glad I listened to them.

My friend Juliana and I went all of the festival’s four nights, including the 100 kroner penultimate Havnefesten and the 300 kroner Final Party. Although it was a little pricey, I would definitely recommend paying for the last two days, if only to get the full Distortion experience. Each night offered something a little bit different, with different DJs and performers, different food stalls, and different people. About 12,000 people come out to celebrate the final night – truly amazing for a city whose population is only about 550,000.

My friend Juliana’s photo of the final concert

For me, it wasn’t really about the music, but about having a good time with friends, people watching, and just embracing a central part of Danish youth culture. One of the nights, Juliana and I sat with a few of our Danish friends on a couch in the middle of the street (a welcomed comfort provided by Distortion), hanging out and getting to know each other better. It was a night I won’t soon forget.

Friends and I hanging out at Refshaleøen

It was a bittersweet experience though: the more we delve into Danish culture and the better friends we become with locals makes it all the more sad that we’ll be leaving this coming Saturday. Still, I wouldn’t trade these memories for anything.

I’m trying to put off thinking about leaving, though. For now, I’m looking forward to my last few days of class, cramming in as many visits to my favorite restaurants and cafés as I can, and of course a few more fun nights with our Danish friends before it’s time to go.

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