Roskilde - I Survived My 'Nam - Part II
- by Happiest Girl,
June 2007 -
For some reason, festivals bring out the worst as well as the best in everyone, and it is now time to experiment with one’s look. Everybody who’s ever been to a festival must have come home with “festival fashion” (who actually manufactures this and where is it the rest of the year?), a hat that is so hideous it will scare the living daylights out of your kids, your cat, your mum for that matter, as well as “assorted” festival wear, the tie dye top that looked so cool on that guy with the dreadlocks, suddenly looks more like a nightmare, or the bad trip it actually depicts, when the festival is over and reality hits once again.
Then again, we are sat down on our arses the entire day, what better way to spend it decorating each other? Since the weather is gorgeous, and both feet and hands will be exposed, I decide to hide as many sins as I possibly can, and paint my nails black, both feet and hands. Benny wants his share of nail polish, and instructs me to do his nails as well. I am only too happy to oblige, however, due to lack of sleep, a bit of alcohol and a knackering night my hands are shaking so badly I nearly spill nail polish all over Benny’s fingers. Benny laughs at me, obviously, which doesn’t make things easier as I start laughing too, but eventually I manage to sort of get some black onto all our nails. But pretty, it ain’t. But we’re at Roskilde, it’ll do.
We pass the day napping under the party tent, buying beer, drinking it, chatting, generally just chilling out. There’s not much else to do, as the festival itself won’t start for another few days.
In the evening, we start to get visits from camps near and far. First and foremost people from the Roskilde chat group, veterans who have spent many successive years at the festival. Steffen and Friedel are German and come to our camp to say hello. Steffen immediately points at me and shouts “Happiest Girl!” What, what, what!? I have never seen him before in my entire life and a big blow of paranoia hits me. It turns out he has read my report on Catgirl’s site, and it is accompanied by a picture. I have forgotten, or failed to recognise that the world wide web is just that, world and wide and web. They are the sweetest people, we hang around and chat. And drink obviously, the staple diet throughout the festival is warm beer. Yuuum. Steffen, being an experienced and highly professional camper, has brought an ice box, several kinds of spirits, tonic water, straws, glasses, blocks of ice, and we are able to enjoy a cold drink for a change. Wonderful. He is a rarity, who else would bring an ice box to a festival? However practical it might be? And incredibly unpractical to log around, no doubt. But his efforts are highly appreciated. Cold drinks, a rare and delightful luxury.
Another feature and tradition stemming from Germans at Roskilde is the Ahoy Brausepulver shot. This is a highly potent mixture of fizzy pop powder in different flavours and vodka, accompanied by a violent shake of the head to blend the mixture inside one’s mouth before swallowing. Needless to say, the effect is overwhelming. But great, of course, and because the Germans really know their Brausepulver, it tastes great, really fizzes in your mouth, unlike the rubbish we bought in Sweden to mimic the effect, which tasted nothing and didn’t fizz regardless of how much we shook our heads. Very disappointing. The Germans have perfected their Brausepulver shots, I must say, especially as I fell “victim” to Steffen’s more advanced way of taking it, that is licking it out of my bellybutton, shotting the vodka, then shaking his head. My jeans stuck to my stomach that night, like I said, this is potent stuff. And it rather tickled.
There are more people visiting us. There is the Austrian pirate, Flo, who one day is drunk beyond belief, and goes around and says ARF ARF all the time, next time, not so drunk, incredibly shy instead and says nothing at all. Then there is Mark from Denmark, GÅDDDÆMMMIT, is his war cry, repeat ad infinitum, yes quite drunk but as it turns out, also harmless. And red as a lobster. My hands are nearly always cold, especially when outside at night, and I offer to cool his sunburn. His boisterous persona shrinks down to a cuddly and most grateful puppy. Friedel is the archetypical festival goer, tall, friendly and with hair way down his back, he is so laid back he is virtually horizontal. Below our, after a few days and accidents, shortened party tent, that is exactly where he ends up, in a horizontal position.
One evening it is Steffen’s and my turn to go and get the beer. We trot down to the Carlsberg beer outlet, buy a case, chat to other people, walk back, make for a pit stop at a few camps, sit down in one camp to have another little chat, then finally come back to the Fist Camp, our camp, to angry cries, shouting and swearing. Why, we wonder? It turns out we have been away for ages, at least an hour and the beer is warm. Reminds me of when I was little, walked home from school with a friend, overcome by nosiness, looked and touched everything and spent two hours on a walk that usually takes half an hour. Not much has changed then. Steffen and I also go for a bite to eat one day, and Steffen tells everybody about his idea to open a sex shop at the festival. He wants me to conduct an unofficial survey to assess the need for such an instalment, but I, being a prude, Norwegian, yes, and from the North to add insult to injury, get embarrassed and let him do his own survey. Luckily, Steffen is very cute and innocent-looking, with blond hair, blue eyes and a white, wide smile, so not that many people are very frightened or taken aback by his suggestion. Most people nod understandingly and say it’s a very good idea. I expect the reaction would have been different with a big, ugly, smelly bloke, covered in scars and tattoos. Haha.
While we are at the subject, so to speak, Benny shows a moving concern for my marital status, which is none, basically. He proudly presents me with a light blue button which says “I swallow”. Well. “You will never be without a man again!” he expresses with glee. I’m sorry to say, Benny, it didn’t work. However, we do agree that Roskilde might not be the time nor the place for such a statement, so I promptly order another button that says “But not here” to put underneath the first. Or, “Will spit out”. Now, we’re getting somewhere.
One afternoon we meet up with the rest of Catgirl’s chat gang. Here I meet the lovely Silke, who is staying in the MC camp and invites Catgirl, Angel, Jens and me for breakfast the next morning. We walk for a while, get lost, then back on track and we find the MC camp which is nothing like the ordinary camp, here everything is tidy and pristine, there’s hardly a beer can out of place. They prepare a lovely breakfast for us, which ends up in even more Brausepulver shots! I get a text message from my mum, and I reply that I’m having vodka for breakfast. She was not toooo happy, I don’t think.
The weather is gorgeous. Apart from the very first night, when I woke up to the sound of rain hammering down on our tent, the sun is shining. Rain on a tent is an ominous sound, especially the first night at a festival, where you know everything could turn out mud hell. But as I said, we’re lucky. Catgirl and I are lucky. Angel and Magnus are not, as they wake up in their respective tents, which have turned into swimming pools. Hm. After only a few days, though, the sleeping bags and everything is dry again.
Much better to have swimming pools elsewhere, naturally, and this year Roskilde has opened up two ponds on the camp site, one for fishing and the other for swimming. It’s lovely, and we splash around in the water, feeling most refreshed. Some of the guys try out the fishing pond a few days later, where there actually is a chef present who will prepare your catch. Slumming it? I don’t think so.
The days before the actual festival opens blend into a blur. After a while it seems like we’ve been there for years, and have never known anything else. It takes me a little while to get into the lingo, the inane sense of humour that clearly belongs on a campsite like this, but we all get the hang of it after a while. Benny, a kindergarten teacher in his real life, decides to make a little sculpture out of rubbish to symbolise everybody’s name. Mine’s quite simple, L C. A couple of bent straws do the trick. The rest of the names are a collection of plastic cups, grass, paper, more straws, and more rubbish, all held together expertly by gaffa tape. I don’t know how many rolls of gaffa tape we get through during that week, but it is a considerable number. Also because someone will have fallen over and broken our party tent during the night and it will have to be repaired the next morning with the indispensable tool, the gaffa tape. The party tent has become our home, and is forever being decorated and developed, we even have a shower curtain for shielding against the wind.
On my way to the water taps it hits me: I look around and what I see is not that far away from endless news reports from war and hunger torn countries, the fields stretch way beyond my vision and they are all covered in tents, people and rubbish. I realise that this whole makeshift community is incredible fragile, we have a constant supply of water, sewage, food and beer, and we are happy. Should anything of the above break down, we are not that happy anymore. Obviously, I realise that we are here because we want to. Being in a place with tens of thousands of other, when you don’t want to, for all the wrong reasons, with none of the facilities we have, is a different story altogether. I decide to have another beer with my friends. Because I am so fortunate that I can.
Clearly, the rest of the campers are more experienced than I am, and although we are happy together and everything is fine, the danger of camp fatigue is present and steps are taken towards combating it. A disco night is prepared, complete with mirror ball, balloons, lights and music. Excellent. However, at this time, the party tent is so knackered, and low, that there is no place for dancing, so everybody is squatting on the ground. We’ll dance on our bums instead… It is hard to keep the camp tidy, not that there is much point in it either, but we do make an effort to keep it more or less ok. Some things are important, like bin bags for rubbish, which are supplied on a more or less daily basis, a kid’s paddling pool to fill with water to keep the beer cold-ish, blankets for sitting on and various toys. Like for instance, the tattoo toy. Great. And the chicken and the pig, to symbolise egg and bacon, which is the breakfast cry from Benny and Christian every bloody morning, but I don’t think they ever get round to buying any. Also, pens for keeping statistics and writing greetings on the party tent. What we do usually get for breakfast is a cup of coffee from the coffee cows, men and women dressed up with a coffee dispenser on their backs. And maybe with a biscuit to add if extra peckish, if not the usual cigarette. And yes, everybody knows what happens after a coffee and a cigarette in the morning? That’s it, a trip to the loo. So, the question is, has the loo-mobile been there yet or not? If it has, everybody is on their way with cheers and joy, if it hasn’t, everybody goes rather silent and just waits. This is where the statistics come in. A line is drawn next to your name on the party tent, every time you’ve had a successful and satisfactory trip to the loo. Magnus has added ½ to his name, and I inquire as to why, but I don’t really get a very in depth answer. Which is just as well, come to think of it.
Over the entire area, the camp site as well as the festival area, every single vertical object is turned into a gentleman’s toilet. Beware not to stand still for too long in the same position, or you could be turned into one yourself. Sit down on the grass and lean into a tree, and simply enjoy life? No, forget it, someone’s bound to have relieved himself against that tree. Or more likely, not just one, several people. Inevitably, this starts to get rather smelly, on trips back from the beer shop, there are places one is forced to hold one’s breath for several meters, as there is no oxygen left in the area, only urine dust. It actually says in the festival paper, you could be breathing in urine particles along with all the dust… Yuuuk. As if the smell wasn’t bad enough. After a few days, it doesn’t even smell of pee, it smells more of fermented beer with a touch of pee, and it gets even more nauseating. Unfortunately, the memory of that smell comes back to me now, writing about it. Girls don’t really have that vertical object option, due to nature’s unfairness, so the queues outside the ladies’ are endless. This is always a problem, okay, I could turn it around because at the end of the day, drinking copious amounts of beer isn’t really that good for me, but it is nice not to have to worry about the toilet situation when it is a warm, sunny day, and you’re at a festival enjoying great music with your mates. That is why one occasionally, out of despair, sneaks in to a gentleman’s toilet. And get told off! In no uncertain terms! Even though the queue is miniscule, and I pee really quickly. So, a hint to the festival management: Where there are stalls with closing doors, make the toilets unisex. Unless you want us girls to relieve ourselves in public as well. Which we would rather not. And nobody wants to have a party in an even bigger toilet, let’s be honest.
Finally, the festival itself actually opens. We trot back and forth, circling bands in the programme, see new bands and old bands, new favourites and old. I even get to meet up with other mates that are here, some by chance, other by mobile phone. To be quite honest, I am an electrohead, so my taste in music is a little bit underrepresented here, but I get to see some favourites, among them a hero from way back, Ruyichi Sakamoto from Japan’s Yellow Magic Orchestra. Here he is collaborating with Alva Noto, and it is breezy and ambient, and very lovely and quiet. Not that many people are there, but it is calm and comforting and exactly what I need. The crowd is so enthusiastic that the pair has to come out for encores and they are visibly touched.
I also get to flush out an overdose of rock’n’roll by seeing EBM veterans Front 242. Ah, they are fantastic, I jump and I dance, and the burst of adrenalin makes my blood rush through my veins a lot faster than it has done for days. Here, I meet my mate 7rym, another Roskilde veteran. He is also an electrohead, and his grin too stretches from one ear to the other. At Roskilde there are various places to eat and drink, lots of them to be precise, and I meet up with 7rym for a drink at a… yes. A beach bar in the middle of the festival. No actual sea, but quite a lot of sand, palms and huge drinks. Here, at the Gringo Bar they serve doubles and triples as well as ordinary measurements, and coming from Norway this is a weird and wonderful thing. Coming from Norway one thinks that this free drink, or this somewhat strong drink is the last drink you will possibly have for the rest of your life, so you better drink it fast so that you can have another one. So we drink, chat, and have a wonderful time. And we fall into the old festival trap. 7rym asks me, “So did you enjoy Happy Mondays?” and I say “What??” “Well, they just played” “Oh, and we missed them” “Yup”. Repeat for the rest of the night. At the end, I am so drunk that I cannot for the life of me remember how I got back to our tent, but I did manage, I do wake up in my own sleeping bag the next morning. I have made that mistake before, it’s not so much the amount of drink that annoys me, it’s missing bands I had wanted to see. Obviously, is it something really great, I always manage to get my arse off the bar stool, but alas, sometimes it is too much fun chatting with mates and drinking lovely cocktails. At a festival, sometimes you need a bit of downtime as well, the music OD is imminent, my head fills up with music so much that it is difficult to enjoy it the way it deserves. Still, I manage to see quite a few bands, and very enjoyable it is too. Some people don’t at all, you see.
One of the bands headlining the festival is the American band Tool. Catgirl’s passion for them is akin to mine for Depeche Mode, so as the time for them to enter main stage is drawing nearer, the anticipation rises. And I do understand what all the hysteria was about. They are fantastic, and a whole range of emotions washes over the huge crowd. The band is of the rather introverted kind, there are huge television screens on both sides of the stage, but there is only a camera set on a total shot on each of them, they clearly do not want a visual production. This puts no damper whatsoever on the crowd’s enthusiasm for Tool, and none on their performance. Although they don’t give me the uttermost extreme goose-bumps I readily understand their magic. Simply wonderful.
The Roskilde festival 2006 is getting close to its end. The clever veterans have all booked a room in Copenhagen for the very last night, so we pack up all our things and take the train. We’re not quite done with the festival yet, the last act is Roger Waters performing Dark Side of the Moon in quadraphonic sound on the Orange stage, and this cannot be missed, obviously. The performance is wonderful, it sends chills up and down our spines, and once again, wide pleased grins are plastered across our faces. Night is falling, and we make our way out of the area for the last time, together with what seems like millions of others. The atmosphere is somewhat eerie, this is when mad people set fire to their tents and things get out of hand. The fire department have a really busy night the last night, which shouldn’t really be necessary. There are again long queues outside the festival area, and a definitive shortage of taxis and busses, so we walk for a bit, trying to find something along the way. Which we do. A pirate taxi, driven by an insane ex-Yugoslavian we think, complete with road rage and armed with a screwdriver he waves in the air to threaten other drivers. Well. We have come this far, only to be driven into our deaths by a mad driver on the very last night? Almost all of us, as we are way too many squashed inside the car. I can’t remember how much we paid for that trip, but we paid gladly and stumbled out of the car, happy to be alive.
The next day, before we leave on our respective means of transport to go back to Oslo, Catgirl and I enjoy an exquisite brunch at a nearby café. We have lattes. We have water with sprigs of mint. We are again part of an urban society, and camp life is over. For now. God festival!
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