Before Christmas, I had planned this column to be a wonderful homage to living here in Copenhagen, entitled ‘12 things I loved about this city’. But having just returned from a short trip to London, I have had a rethink.
The colour, diversity and eccentricity of London has made me realise I’ve actually returned to a rather dull, bland and homogenised place called Copenhagen. Where everybody seems to look the same, and originality and individuality are hard to find.
So I apologise for not writing about my initial idea and I know the comparison to London is unfair, yet I have to admit, after five years of living here, in my opinion Copenhagen is a boring place to live right now. I know it’s winter, people are gloomy and the best time in this city is spring, but I’m talking about more than just the weather here.
What I would like to know is where can you find creativity and originality in this city? Does Copenhagen have an alternative vibrant underground cultural scene, or has everyone who has an ounce of individuality and artistic talent moved to Berlin? Have you ever wondered why Agnes Obel doesn’t live here?
I blame the last government squarely for this current state of blandness, caused by encouraging ten years of selfish individualism and for having an unhealthy admiration of America. This onslaught of globalisation has affected all developed countries, but the downside, if unregulated, promotes people to become more obsessed with wealth and materialism.
This economic fixation on a throwaway society based on American values has meant that over the last ten years, many more Danes have ended up as identical shoppers, buying the latest trends and fashions and consuming the same things. The same haircuts, the same Adidas gear, the same iPhone, everyone listening to Medina and Burhan G. It’s so boring and predictable.
They even tried to ‘normalise’ Christiania, but thankfully they didn’t fully succeed. Christiania is one of only a few places in Copenhagen that actually has a heartbeat. It’s one of this city’s crown jewels and actually makes Copenhagen a little more interesting and diverse.
The only thing I can remember from last year that really made this city an exciting place to live, apart from Christiania’s 40th celebration, was the Distortion street festival, which was fantastic and showed that Copenhagen can have a personality.
Maybe I am living in the wrong part of the city? I live in Vesterbro, which is supposedly one of the coolest places to be, yet all I see is white middle-class trendies with cash and a bit of style, but not much else.
I guess living in a highly controlled welfare state also has its downsides and makes people less willing to express themselves. But now that we are facing an economic downtown, maybe creativity and individuality will finally return as people start to become a little more inventive and frugal with their lifestyle.
Or is it me that is the problem – am I just a boring old fart? Maybe there is a vibrant artistic scene here that is much more than just being about image and fashion and actually has substance and subversion. If so, can someone please enlighten me and point me in the right direction?