In the heart of Roskilde Festival’s Dream City, there is a small purple shack that constantly leaks Danish bodega-rock classics and hash smoke. “FORBIDDEN FOR CHILDREN” is painted on the front in big letters. A pee smell lingers.
This is Camp Nasty, a Roskilde Festival institution with the goal of living as gross as possible. Showers are discouraged, trash piles up to the ankles, and the mood’s never been better.
Here in this community of slovenly camaraderie, Camp Nasty finds a certain liberation in flaunting hygienic and societal norms.
Inside Dehn’s dirty den
Mikkel Dehn, 37, is Camp Nasty’s designated press officer. One grey morning, Mikkel greets the day with his compatriots, a selection of drowsy men and women wearing pink and purple, all laid across damp sofas.
Mikkel is wearing a heavily stained women’s dress, a pink bathrobe, Hawaiian flower lei, a pink wig and pink sunglasses. In one hand he holds a hash spliff, in the other a latex horse mask. He is one of Camp Nasty’s more outgoing members, quick to let loose with a loud, buoyant laugh.
CPH POST took a walk through Dream City with Mikkel to talk about Camp Nasty, and how their spirit of gleeful neglect speaks to the essence of Roskilde Festival.
Good morning Mikkel! You seem established around here. How long have you been a part of Camp Nasty?
Eleven years in a row. This is my 11th year with Camp Nasty, and my 21st year at Roskilde in a row.
Respect. Do you have an official title? High King of Camp Nasty or something?
Actually, I’m called Junkie Mikkel.
Because I don’t do hard drugs. People don’t really do hard drugs in Camp Nasty. I’m good on weed and beer – that works out fine. It’s a bit safer too. You get too much, you puke and fall asleep, and that’s it.
Where did the idea of Camp Nasty come from? That is, when did being nasty become your goal?
Originally the two founders just had a regular camp back in 2008. They had been to Roskilde for some years at that point, and they just had this mentality of: “Fuck everything, fuck it all, I’m just going to let go here.” So people would come by their camp to tell them: “Man, you guys are so fucking nasty!” And at the end of it, they decided to just embrace Camp Nasty, because everyone was saying it anyway. They had some t-shirts made, we happened to meet them, and the rest is history.
How do you live nasty day-to-day? What does nasty mean for you?
It means as soon as I wake up, I start drinking. Smoke some weed, get some food, go to the bathroom, get all that sorted out, and then party. It’s just one constant party for us.
Do you shower? Change underwear?
Nope, never shower. I change my underwear, but that’s just for practical purposes. That way I don’t get any sores from sweat, walking, dust, all that. I change my socks once in a while too, just to avoid blisters. But besides that, I really don’t care. Those two things help me go further, help me party more, so I’m willing to do that just to keep things running. Everything we do is focused on maintaining a party through eight days, spending time as a camp, and meeting a lot of new people.
What happens if you get partied out? Do you have a recovery strategy?
Not really. Usually, if we want to wake someone up again, we just pour a lot of booze on them. Usually that helps. If they’re still tired after that, you just pack them away in a tent and be done with it. We’ve also got a lot of chairs and couches in the hut, so people crash there too. That’s why they’re there. Also, when we have to pee, we’ve created a conversational urinal, located right on the side of the hut. The idea is that you can go to pee without leaving the party – you just pee on the side of our shack, so you don’t miss any jokes, or so people can pass you drinks and stuff like that. There’s even a small shelf for your drinks too. It’s really convenient.
It seems like there’s a certain type of ingenuity that can really only express itself here.
That’s true. In this whole area of Dream City, you’ll see drunken architecture at its finest. People build crazy stuff out here. Camp Nasty fills the niche role of being the dickheads that are always fucking drunk and stupid, but are really lovely inside. Deep down, all of us are lovely people.
How many people are in your camp?
We are around 20 people as Camp Nasty, but this year we’ve had to downsize a bit due to stupid life choices like careers and having children.
That’s fucked up.
Yeah. People sometimes fuck up like that, but we still love them. No, but we’ve been here for a long time, and we’ll hopefully be here for a lot longer. People have stuff in their life that takes them away from Roskilde, that’s just how it is – but next year, we’ll see them. This year, actually, we’ve really cut down to the old guard.
How would you describe the mentality you have as a part of Camp Nasty?
I try to let go of any strings and attachments that I have back home in my private life. This is my first year without a phone, for example, so I’m completely detached from the outside world, and it feels awesome. I’m never going to bring my phone again, that’s for sure.
What’s that like? I can’t remember the last time I lived a day without my phone.
Me neither! And even when I had my phone here, I always missed people anyway. You make an agreement to meet somewhere, and I show up too late or they show up too late or whatever, and it almost always goes to shit. But this year, I left my phone at home, and I’ve already met up with all of the people I wanted to see. It feels like the universe just sorted everything out for me.
I feel like this is some sort of release valve for your everyday life.
It definitely is for us. The rest of the year you’re just building up anticipation, and then it all explodes here. People tear out all the demons from their closets, just let go, and enjoy. I really think it helps me with the rest of my everyday life – it gives me a perspective, at least, which I carry with me in the outside world.
I understand that Camp Nasty’s got a 12-year jubilee coming up. Can you tell me more about that?
We were coming up to Camp Nasty’s ten-year anniversary and we kept saying we were gonna do something, but then we realised: “Oh shit, that was last year!” And then this is the 11th year and we didn’t plan anything. So next year we’re gonna celebrate our 12-year anniversary instead. People always do the fifth, tenth, 25th year anniversary, but nobody ever does 12. We’re doing 12 and then whatever happens after that. It could be 12 and then 16, or it could be 12 and then 78. We don’t know.
It seems very Camp Nasty to not know.
Yeah. This is a really good example of the core philosophy of our camp: we just don’t care. Why would you stress about having a jubilee on the tenth anniversary, just because everyone else does that? It doesn’t matter at all when you do it. If you wanna celebrate, celebrate! It’s about the feelings, the idea of it. Feelings are very important around here; this whole place was built from feelings. It’s a part of Roskilde’s Orange Feeling: we’re about togetherness, being able to meet people on an equal level, being able to be yourself and express yourself as you like without being shamed, and to have a nice time. To enjoy eight days carefree without any worry from the outside world.
Sounds beautiful. Mikkel, thank you for your time, and party on.