Monday, 09 July 2012 08:53

Roskilde Festival: The warm-up days

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It's one thing to submit yourself to living in a tent in a dirty field for four days because it gives you access to your favourite music. But what's the deal with people voluntarily going to a festival up to five whole days before the music even starts? What's the appeal of the warm-up days at Roskilde Festival? Juliane Dybkjær investigates.

It's like everyday life... Turned upside down


The tents are crammed together in small squares, surrounding pavillions under which young people from all over Europe gather to listen to music on their stereos. Some are munching on a sandwich they just bought, some are eating tinned food to keep their spending down, and almost all of them seem to have a beer permanently attached to their right hand. At first glance, the living arrangements seem special to say the least. But after a few days in the slum, as the camping area is affectionately called by the festival-goers, I begin to see a pattern emerging. People are living their everyday life here on the campsite - with a few key differences.

You live in a tent with at least one other person which means that your personal space (when you're sleeping, showering or even peeing) has been somewhat demolished. You spend every day drinking beer - the primary activity of the warm-up days, and perhaps the reason why they are so popular with the younger festival guests. And all the while, you have a certain feeling of anticipation for what the real festival days will bring - the best is yet to come.

But other than that, life goes on in the slum as it would in any other place. There are triumphs and defeats, happy moments and tragedies, ups and downs. Among the good things is the exceptionally low rate of violence. When you cram 80,000 people into tents and feed them alcohol all day, you might expect that there would be bunches of fights, sexual crimes and theft. And while it is not uncommon to have your camping gear "borrowed" by someone during the warm-up days, it really is remarkable that the crime rate is so low, beating many other major European festivals by miles.

So there you have it: I think the warm-up days of Roskilde Festival (and any festival, really) have a special appeal to people, because it's a way of escaping your everyday life... By living your everyday life in a different setting. People are creatures of habit, and whether you enjoy it in a dirty field outside a small town in Denmark or you do it at home in your usual setting, the appeal of a cold beer in the sun is hard to deny.

Last modified on Monday, 09 July 2012 17:32

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