06 June 2011


Nothing sucks the fun out of things like feeling obligated. I felt obligated to report on Distortion, the annual and just finished five day, three borough block party, drawing about 100.000 participants a day. I wasn't going to, but now that it's over leaving Copenhagen looking like a landfill and smelling like a toilet, I feel like saying a few words (buckle up). What started as a small and ultra cool underground party for a couple of hundred people back in 1998 have turned into what the press now call a monster. A monster with 300.000 bladders unable to use a garbage can or clean up after itself in any way. 

I like the idea that you can throw a party all over the city, spreading the fun and some of the pressure so that we all get our share. The event is the result of a lot of hard work by the Distortion crew and a lot of goodwill from the City of Copenhagen, and if you only do the outdoor part it is even free. What do you say, then? Thank you. Not by emptying your bladder on other people's bicycles and front doors, or defecating up the windows of the small shops in the narrow streets. But perhaps by picking up that bottle you just broke, or left in the middle of the street, and throwing some of your crap in the garbage cans. And while you are at it, try to make this event welcome next year by say not jumping on people's cars, tearing up roadwork and tagging everything on your way. And what else?

Let me think..

Floating couch

Next year remember to bring mommy so she can pick up after you.


  1. CPH is so beautiful. It makes me sad that people don't realize what they have.

  2. I think part of the problem in this case was that most of the participants were not locals, and as such did not have that protective feeling about Copenhagen as we do, living here. I really feel that Copenhagen (at least large parts of it) is my home, and I cringe when people mistreat it. My beautiful city.

  3. We have a café in Kødbyn, and Friday night I witnessed some of the most disgusting behavior. I'm not even going to describe it. The aftermath, what we had to clean up, was beyond belief. But I have to disagree with you on one point, Sandra - I think plenty of the people that I interacted with with Copenhageners, albeit young ones. And I find that even sadder.

  4. I think the concentration of locals shifted depending on the location. On my way through town I crossed paths with a lot of suburban teens, but of course with so many people, there were locals too.

    In this debate some argue that this is a big city and we should just suck it up (eew), but I disagree. It is possible to behave like a responsible human being while partying outdoors. Being invited to a party does not mean you get to crap on the carpet. Eew, eew, eew.

  5. AnonymousJune 06, 2011

    Can I point out tho the incredibly inadequate number of chemical toilets that were provided? Otherwise, I totally agree with all of you.

  6. I know. The party was not rigged for that many people (or even half of them). But even so, relieving yourself on other peoples property is not the solution. In people's cargo bikes, where they transport their children, how will they ever get the stench out? Not to mention the amount of broken glass still scattered all over the city.

  7. Wow. I hadn't realized how disgusting some things were. Cargo bikes? On windows? Ewwwww. Seriously, you do wonder how people behave in their own homes. I've walked away in disgust from toilets in restaurants and the main train station (some years ago), straining my bladder to avoid a worse experience. I totally agree with the idea of Copenhagen being home - and you don't pee on the carpet or in the furniture - or do you in some places??

  8. Haha, by the look of it some people do pee on the furniture. I fantasize about locating a few of the offenders, and emptying a couple of trashcans in their homes. And maybe peeing on their front door. Maybe then they will understand the consequences of their actions? Parteeee.

  9. Silly question... did the festival organization provide with *enough* toilets and trash containers? I recall that this already happened in previous years, right?

    Never been to Distortion but I don't see why one would rather pee on someone else's door than in a toilet.

  10. Not a silly question. This time there were lots of extra garbage cans, placed on separate stands with three bags on each. But toilets? Not enough by any measures. Every year this thing grows bigger, and faster than they expect. But they lost a lot of money on this party, and next year they say it will be different. Hopefully they will then do the math with the beer and the bladders. What goes in must come out.

  11. Henrik B.June 06, 2011

    One of my colleagues lives near Sankt Hans Torv. His wife caught two guys peeing _through_ the old letterbox opening next to the door - the result: A big puddle of pee in their stairway...
    They tried to get contact information of the guys but they were to drunk to respond to anything :(

    It's not only a matter of toilet-availability, though that does play a large part, but also of responsibility and plain ol' "behaving nice".

  12. The Distortion party was great friday, I attended the street party on Sdr.Boulevard Vesterbro, with multiple live stages and thousands of party people.

    When I told people what Vesterbro looked like after Distortion, I compared it to a monday after the Roskilde Festival.
    To put it in plain English: People were pigs.

    One thing is the toilet issue, another is all the wrapping paper, used pizza trays, plastic cups, cans, etc. that people for some reason thought they were allowed to leave behind on the streets and sidewalks. Like it was mandatory.
    As 'Anonymous' said, there were not enough toilets provided, so that's why drunk people (mainly young guys) chose other improvised facilities. Some what have done it anyway, simply because of impatience with the toilet queues or the level of intoxication. But that's no excuse to pee in cargobikes, on doorsteps or similar places...at least find a tree or a bush, for christ's sake.

    We need to change the mindsets of people to behave like civilized grown-ups, if we want Distortion to return in 2012. Like you, Sandra, I think humour is the way, something like a poster showing the mayhem after Distortion with your text "Next year remember to bring mommy so she can pick up after you." <-Love that one! :)

    :) Drumstick

  13. Hi,
    Last week i came from Switzerland to your beloved city for a tattoo appointment, without knowing about Distortion. At first it was a good surprise, but after 2 hours i had enough of drunk and arrogant people walking on your shoes and pissing on bikes or vis versa...
    And as i was looking for calm, i didn't go.
    But i felt in love with Copenhagen!
    Chilling in parks, riding bikes, open people, architecture, ports, hidden treasures and two hours sunsets.
    Really want to live there...
    To make it short, there's only 3 things i didn't like: fashion clones, joggers and the intense "staying in your nose" smell of pee.
    Hope for the rain

  14. Hi Henrik, this is exactly the kind of behavior that I am so fed up with. Peeing in somebody's letterbox is just spiteful. Come on! Thanks for illustrating my point.

  15. Drumstick, I agree with you (once again) it is a matter of reaching the mindset, it should be in a way so that when people litter (outside Distortion too), it is frowned upon. Littering and peeing on things is so incredibly immature, but it seems like it is accepted.

    It is also a poor way to thank the people and the city who just threw you a five day free bash. All around embarrassing. And I believe we can make campaigns on a street level, not waiting for the city to get on it, how much fun would that be? Let's out the pigs, and teach them some manners.

  16. Hi Raphael, Copenhagen is a beautiful city, and I am glad that you can see (and smell) beyond the pigsty. We have some obstacles that we have to deal with internally, as Drumstick points out it is the mindset that needs adjusting (and we need a good cleaning up in the top too, but that is another matter), but other than that Copenhagen in the summer is pretty much heaven. I hope you come back another time and get the clean(er) version. We do quiet too. :-)

  17. Hey Sandra, lots of parties end up like that. La fete de la musique in france used to be great, and now, heh, I don't know. It's too big.
    Anyway I thought you might like this

  18. Now I'm reading the comments and I'm kind of appalled. Really, people peeing everywhere? (girls too??? one could wonder). I mean, people party all the time right, I guess they don't do THIS all the time when they party.

  19. Oh, yes Carole, they pee e v e r y w h e r e, and girls too. I am with Drumstick on this one, if you gotta go you gotta go, but at least you can pick a non offensive location, behind a bush or something. It is almost like something territorial, and a lot of them (not many willing to admit being the ones) get really defensive when you question this behavior. But this is just too much. Well they say we are going to have three straight days of thunder and heavy rain now, I think the weather gods smell it too.

    And the Photodiarist really developed her style since I last checked in. Thank you for the link. :-)

  20. Omygod you are so spot on... I live right in the center and a shop next to my building, which has one of those below-street-level entrances had built a barricade over their door with a sign that said something like "NO PEEING HERE!" since there was a street party on our block. I was also a little shocked to see people peeing on the side of the Cathedral... like literally a line of dudes waiting to go one after other, as if waiting to use a urinal. I'm not really religious, but that just seems like bad karma to me... Also, I've been to the karneval in Aalborg a few times, and you see the exact same thing. It's like an outdoor party in Denmark = PEE EVERYWHERE. I think it's pretty funny actually, but I just make sure to never wear my shoes in my apartment again. :)

  21. Hi Lauren, it's true, the outdoor parties always end up smelly here. It just seemed so much worse because there were a hundred thousand of them this time, and in populated areas too. I am not religious either, but I would never urinate on what is sacred to others. There is a line after all.

    On the other hand they find drowned men with pants down their ankles every year at summertime, because they are peeing in the canal, and loose their balance... I think the solution could be more of the four corner open urinals, next to the closed toilets. Lots more.

    But pee aside, there is still the garbage situation. Maybe we will se a repeat performance this weekend at the carnival, summer in Copenhagen is at full steam :-)

  22. I guess it will be a fun, but messy summer!

  23. Just to the foreigners, I found this picture of Vesterbro after Distortion:

    Copy + paste:



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