Thursday, June 7, 2012

Distortion, EuroCup Madness & Ruminations on Leaving

Gosh, where do I even begin this entry! I leave Copenhagen in a little less than a month! First, I will be traveling to Cinque Terre and Milan, Italy with my Austrian friend Martina for 1.5 weeks of relaxation and good food! Also sunshine, cause that has been sorely lacking of late around here. I don't believe I've ever worn a winter jacket before in June...Then, I will be back stateside on July 12th. It's incredibly hard to believe that I've been living in Copenhagen for almost a year, and  even harder to comprehend the fact that I have to leave. I will simply pretend that THIS IS NOT HAPPENING, and put off packing as long as possible. Between finals, finishing up my research, and trying to cram as much time with friends as possible into the next few weeks, it's safe to say that I am in a weird mental state. It kind of fluctuates between panic and pure happiness.

Know what else doesn't help? It's 10:30 PM, and the sun has still not set. I had heard before coming to Copenhagen to expect roughly 18 hours of sunlight daily in the springtime, but I hadn't really understood what that meant for my body clock...pure madness! The sun is fully risen by 4 AM, and because I live in a crappy student apartment, my also crappy blinds don't do very much to block the sunlight. Nej tak. I usually awake from a dead sleep, panic for a few moments thinking that I've slept through my alarm, then attempt to fall back asleep after stuffing two pillows over my head. This usually works until the Danish teenagers next store start blasting Rihanna while getting ready for school.
On the weekends,  I usually don't sleep at all when it's dark outside. Europeans party on an entirely different level than Americans, and well, when in Rome...

The city-wide festival Distortion took place last Wednesday through Saturday, and it did not disappoint! Begun in 1998, Distortion has not only grown to a crowd of over 130,000 people, but is notorious for its excellent DJ selection, street parties, and crazy anything-goes atmosphere. The idea is that the street parties and after parties are held in a different neighborhood of the city each day, in order to keep the festival fresh and exciting as the week progresses. And before you ask, yes, there is no open container law in Denmark. I can walk down the street sipping a bottle of wine at 11 AM if I so choose - although in Copenhagen, drinking a Carlsberg would be more socially acceptable. Don't want to get the stink eye from the Danes!

The first day of Distortion was held in the historic city center, with at least ten music stations scattered around the area. One especially great moment was turning a corner and stumbling upon a random Avicii dance party. Seeing a bunch of drunk people climbing every historical monument, stoplight, and light pole within reach was also pretty great, especially when a few had to be brought down by the fire department. I would make some comment about staying classy, but when so many festival goers were already rocking full animal costumes or simply a pair of tight-whiteys, I must conclude that dignity took a nosedive after the first few beers.

The party then moved to Norrebro and Vesterbro, respectively, with the final party held at Refshaleoen, a warehouse complex across the water from the Little Mermaid (past the Opera House, for those of you who have been to CPH). Arriving there was overwhelming, but in an entirely great way. There were several different stages, each featuring a different type of music and with its own rotating set list. Strobe lights and the sound of bass filled the air - along with confetti from a raver bus that had been hoisted in the air, acting as a very large disco ball. What else....a helicopter, fireworks, and men peeing everywhere! Oh yes, guys in Copenhagen feel that just about everywhere is their own personal public toilet.  I don't think that the festival planners helped at all by placing the outdoor urinals right by the ticket office, so if you happened to glance over at the wrong get my drift.

Many thanks to the Danish man who felt it was his duty to hoist me upon his shoulders for one song, because "It was too good for me not to get the full experience!" This ties into my one big complaint about Distortion: If I were taller, it would have been more enjoyable. I had an amazing time, but I don't think I've ever been stepped upon or elbowed before so much in my life! The Danes are extremely aggressive when it comes to moving through crowds - maybe it's the Viking blood?- and I had the bump on my head to prove it for a week. After watching the sunrise over Nordhavn, I began the 6 km walk home mentally exhilarated, but physically exhausted. I was pretty much held together by alcohol and a series of power naps by the end of Distortion.

Note: I know some of you must be thinking that I shouldn't mention alcohol in this blog, and HEY, wait a minute, didn't you have class or work to do during that week? Legitimate questions, I admit.
Distortion begins around 4 PM, so if you plan well, you can definitely get all of your assignments/research tasks done in the morning. As for alcohol, drinking is very much part of the Danish lifestyle and culture. I don't drink everyday, but I would be missing out on a large part of the social interaction within Copenhagen if I didn't take part.

Finally, the EuroCup championship begins tomorrow, and football (soccer) fever has taken over all of my international friends! I used to think that Americans were the most enthusiastic sport fans, but we've got nothing on Europeans, especially the Dutch. Several Dutch people live in my building - one of them  in my apartment - and they have decided to turn Store Kongensgade 97 into a little piece of the Netherlands. I came home today to every single window in the building covered in Nederland stickers, and orange tape covering the stairway. We live in a six-floor building; this was not a simple feat!

With respect to them, I leave you with this video. The main gist? 'The Dutch are nice people, at least until it comes to football...'

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