When we got on the flight to Copenhagen all we could think about was the Danish cultural appropriation imported on to our shores in recent years.
More precisely we’re thinking crime dramas, the archetypal Viking and that seemingly inexplicable thing called Hygge and of course Lego (as well as the searing pain when you step on it while playing with your toddler nephew).
A weekend at one of Europe’s oldest and biggest festivals would be the perfect opportunity to explore and probably debunk some of these myths as well as truisms.
So, here’s Clash’s take on Denmark and Danish culture through the prism of Roskilde Festival 2018.
- The Danes - Hordes of Viking Warriors?
Bottom line, the longboat-sailing, axe-wielding warrior image we like to have of the Danes is as old as the Viking Age itself, and most importantly, outdated. Those present at Roskilde are less Erik The Red and more gentle, peaceful giants, albeit with long, scuzzy beards and piercing blue eyes.
Watching fellow Scandinavians First Aid Kit sing folky lullabies on a sunny afternoon had all comers smiling and dancing, firmly putting this myth to bed. Having said that, when Stormzy rocked up on Thursday night, a new generation of would-be warriors rocked up en-masse.
Who knew the Danes loved Stormzy so much? And how much they love an excuse for a good mosh. South London’s Grime royalty sets something off in a crowd of teens and twenty-somethings that puts Reading and Leeds lovers to shame.
Verdict - SOMETIMES
- Are Danes actually The Happiest People In The World?
As we sit under a grey cloud in the UK we always read those articles that the Danes are ‘The Happiest People on Earth’… They live in a smallish country (just like we do), have long, cold winters (just like we do) and the cost of living is sky high (just like ours).
So what are they on that we’re not? Maybe we’ll never know but it’s true what they say - every Dane you chat to (warrior or otherwise) makes eye-contact, smiles at you, and forgives your lack of Danish. A rarity at many other European festivals. Come to Roskilde and you’ll feel at home. Even Stormzy, yes Stormzy, described Roskilde as a second home.
Verdict - IT SEEMS SO
- Danish Crime Dramas - What Drama?
Have you been sucked into The Bridge and The Killing over the last few years? Have they given you the impression that Denmark is a land of shit weather, gruesome crimes, and sultry detectives? Well, stop right there sunshine.
Things that would get our British knickers in a right twist don’t seem to bother the Danes one iota. Even as (after three days of beautiful sunshine), the festival site became increasingly Mad Max with dust swirling up and up, everyone takes it in their stride.
It’s a situation that might well hit the papers if it happened on our little island. The most dramatic (in the Albert Square sense of the word) moment during the festival was when Del from Gorillaz fell off the stage, forcing the band to finish early.
At the other end of the spectrum, the moment that most befits Roskilde’s laid-back vibes took place during Maribou State: Mid-set, a guy and his pals rock up into the crowd, make a little nest of space so the lad in question could take ALL his clothes off, and enjoy a brave boogie for the rest of the set in the buff. More notable than his glitter-covered member was the fact that not one single person seemed to bat an eyelid.
Verdict - NO DRAMAS
- Hygge times at Roskilde?
If you reckon you know exactly what Hygge is (aside from cosiness and candles - such a cop out explanation), then let us know. In the meantime, our understanding of Hygge from the festival is a general sense of happiness, well-being and unadulterated joy.
We’re thinking Eminem’s triumphant main stage appearance, rolling out hit after hit including 'Rap God', 'Stan', 'The Way I Am' and of course, 'Lose Yourself', all prompting massive sing-alongs (rap alongs?) fits the Hygge criteria.
At the same time, Superorganism playing in a small, hot room brings out everyone’s happiest, curliest version of themselves. There’s got to be some Hygge in that, right?
Verdict - IF YOU WANT HYGGE, THERE’S PLENTY TO GO AROUND
- Great Dane, puppy dog or Hound of the Baskervilles?
If we’re going to play the ‘what animal would you be?’ personality game and apply it to the Roskilde crowd, then it seems appropriate to remain in the canine category. Well, we’ve just spent the weekend surrounded by 130,000-odd Danes and we can say they’re some of the most relaxed, gentle, up for a good time, infectiously enthusiastic festival goers we’ve come across in recent years.
If you get the chance, get yourself out to Denmark next year for a top crowd, cracking line-up (usually) and a generally good (or should we say Hygge?) time.
Verdict - GREAT DANE.
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Words: Milo Wasserman
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