Roskilde - I Survived My 'Nam - Part I
- by Happiest Girl,
June 2007 -
In October of 2005 I happened to win a trip for two to New York to see my favourite band, Depeche Mode, live in tiny intimate concert, and I chose to bring my friend Catgirl with me. Catgirl is passionate about the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, 2006 was her tenth year, so she wanted to share her passion with me, as I had with her.
A brilliant idea, although I am not that keen on festivals after the Carling festival in Leeds, in 2000, where we spent the best part of the week, literally on our hands and feet in mud, crawling, as the mud was so slippery we couldn’t get to where we wanted, and the toilet situation was beyond appalling. I tried to go to the loo properly once in a whole week and looked and felt like a zeppelin for most of the time. One morning I got up, wanting to pee, obviously, as you do after several beers downed the night before, and I must have checked 25 portaloos in a row, and every single one of them was filled to halfway up the wall with phaeces, urine and vomit. I would actually prefer to shut off my bodily functions at will, I find them annoying and in the way most of the time. I never go to the loo properly at work for instance, and the smell of any human waste makes me wretch. As does the smell of garbage. No, I’m not very good with the base results of human behaviour. Anyway, I braced myself.
Catgirl had gone to Copenhagen a couple of days before me, she had a pre-party to go to, well she was co-hosting it, which meant she had to show up and drink beer. Nice. I went by plane (yes I know, I am a snob, I used to be a Gucci girl for f***s sake) to Copenhagen, poor Catgirl had been rattling on the bus for eight hours or more, and I had planned to meet up with her and Jens at the train station in the middle of Copenhagen. I nearly missed her, I stood outside MacDonald’s, but couldn’t see her anywhere, oblivious of the fact that there was a giant pillar obstructing my view, so I tried to call her, and while I do, I wander literally two steps forward and then I spot her. How we managed to meet up with anyone before the days of the mobile phone I shall never fathom. Did we walk around with our eyes open, perhaps? Now, how does that work again? Djeez, how embarrassing.
It’s nice to see Catgirl and Jens, whom I met in 2005 at ElektroStat, and Stian, a friend of Espen’s, is there too, we wait for a while, then Espen turns up as well. I had met Espen at Oslo Airport, but didn’t recognise him as he has a new hairstyle every time I see him. Catgirl, Jens and myself board a train and are on our way to Roskilde. We take a taxi to the gate where we are supposed to enter and there are millions of people there already. The atmosphere there is heavy with anticipation, there are people with makeshift camps everywhere, and loads and yet more loads of crates of beer. We spot the orange gates far, far away in the distance. There is quite a bit of hoo haa with tents and luggage and who’s carrying what in the queue, where to go to get the proper wristbands, where to go, where to stand, what to do etc etc. I don’t quite follow this, as darkness is falling and I have literally no idea as to where I am, what to do or what is in stall for me. Which turns out to be rather for the best, actually.
Jens takes all our tents and joins the queue. (What queue? It’s a gigantic crowd!) Catgirl and I find a trolley in which we put our backpacks and bags and we steer this trolley towards the area where they are supposed to supply us with the correct media wristbands. Again, I have no idea where we are, there are people milling around everywhere in a place that seems rather deserted, houses with dark windows, and fields of farmlands. On our way, we bump into a gang of Norwegians, they are completely lost and I can surely sympathise with them. I feel we have been walking for ages, not getting to where we are supposed to be. Catgirl, being the experienced Roskilde-guest, guides them on their way. However, they are quite a bit more interested in chatting, interrupting, giggling etc, until one of their gang, who seems to run out of patience, (already?) shouts at us, and we break it up. But not until we have wished each other a happy festival, which turns out to be the normal greeting the days the whole thing lasts. Very pleasant.
We get our wristbands, they are unglamorous, white and green plastic, and our programmes, in English as we are not yet that experienced with the Danish language and not yet drunk enough for the Danish language, which to a Norwegian sounds like drunkenness, and we rattle our trolley back to where we left Jens. At the so-called queue. I take orders from Catgirl, on with the backpack, assorted bags etc and we head through the crowd to meet up with the rest of the camp members. And there they are, squashed in between lots and lots of other campers. I thought at first they were joking, why were we supposed to stand there, like bloody anchovies? Thankfully, Catgirl had given me sparse information, had I known this, with my claustrophobic tendencies, I would probably have run the other way as fast as I possibly could.
So we’re queuing. For hours. And hours. And hours on end. People actually pay good money for this, bizarre as it may seem. My favourite pastime is as far as humanely possible away from standing squashed in a crowd, with a heavy backpack, not knowing how long this ordeal is going to take. In addition to the sheer discomfort in all this, there are the really bad aspects, people falling over, fainting, crying, having panic attacks, hyper ventilating, etc, things that are quite scary because there is literally no room to move about, and it’s quite hard to help others in distress. There is no way out of the queue, and even if there were, you would still have to queue for a number of hours to get in. Get out of it, and join in at the back again. Not really an option. I quite fancy drinking myself into a stupor so that I don’t notice very much of the whole thing, but then there is the loo problem. So careful with that beer, Benny. For the boys the loo problem is actually solvable, bottles, plastic bags, whatever comes in handy, for me alas, there is no other option than go sparingly on the beer and hope I breathe or sweat out most of the humidity.
Every twenty minutes or so we actually move forward, about 10 centimetres. Not a lot. Then there is all the rubbish that is left on the ground which people trip in. I step over bottles, cans, sleeping bags, boots, shoes, and remnants of tents, basically everything you need to make a decent campsite. I decide to do what I can to shut off as many bodily functions as I possibly can, and enter a state as close to apathy as I can muster. I feel I have to, to avoid anything unpleasant, but also to avoid having the memory of agony to be the first and lasting memory of the festival. I don’t want that to stick too hard. I do quite succeed. The queue is agonizing, but not too bad, and I’m not after all half dead with urine poisoning when we finally get through. The festival, like any other festival to various degrees, will after a while turn into the toilet festival, as this is the one subject that seems to preoccupy people far more than the music. Basics are, after all, basics.
Anyway, we finally get in after queuing for a few hours, how many I would not like to think about, only to enter another queue, this time to get to the camp site. But now we can finally, yes, go to the loo, have another drink, it would be rude not to as it is about six in the morning, sit down and just observe people. Oh yes, the people. Assorted ones. With assorted hairdos, assorted attire, assorted luggage, are they actually moving in to stay for good?, assorted everything really. Quite a few of them seem to have looked exactly like this since last year’s festival, and they actually smell that way too. Well, humanity is diverse, and nowhere more so than at festivals.
A couple of young Goths seem to have had enough for a while, and have fallen asleep on their luggage. In the middle of everything, well, at least in the middle of where a steady trickle of people are stumbling their way, due to drink, drugs or excess baggage, and one of them is unfortunate enough to drop a load of party tent poles on the young man’s stomach. This abruptly wakes him up, causes quite a bit of agony, no doubt, and he is comforted by his girlfriend who also wakes up. Said girlfriend, as soon as she is finished comforting, folds away the corner of their blanket, and vomits violently into a small space amidst their luggage. As I said, it takes all kinds. And may I remind you, the festival has yet to start. I, however, stand there, with my notebook open, apparently with a grim expression on my face, writing down impressions so far. I thought all this was going unnoticed, but no, it wasn’t. My somewhat stiff upper lip is commented upon a couple of days later.
The campsite itself is not supposed to open until another couple of hours, and we sit down and chat for a while. It is decided that Magnus, Jens and Catgirl will take the tents and sprint to where the camp is to be situated. They do. When they get to the gates, they have been torn down, and most of the camp sites are already taken. However, they manage to secure a nice spot, come back for us and we trot along with all our stuff…for something that feels like miles after that night. We get there, and we put up all our tents right next to each other, in the sunshine as it is a fine, fine day. The experienced Roskilde-lot, for instance Jens, runs along and buys a party tent from the campsite shop. All the other camps in the area take on much the same look as ours, party tent in front, the other tents grouped nicely behind it. My tent becomes the supply tent, is this a professional camp or what? To be continued...
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