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Still distorted after all these years

Now one of the country's largest events, Distortion is making a few changes to help it adapt to its popularity

Outlandish as it ever was, but this year just a little more thought through (Photo: Peter Stanners)

May 29, 2013

by Elias Thorsson

The week every partygoer has spent all year waiting for, and every grumpy old man spends all year dreading is upon us. Distortion is here. 

For those not familiar with Distortion, it is a five-day, mobile party held each year in the first week of June since 1998. Officially known as Copenhagen Distortion, the festival began as a way to focus on club music, but has in recent years become better known for its wild street parties often held in outlandish locations, including aboard a disused factory fishing ship.

For those familiar with Distortion, there are a couple of changes this year. Most notably, it will be steering clear of the city centre.

“To tell the truth, hosting three street parties was just proving too expensive,” Sigurd Hartkorn Plaetner, a Distortion spokesperson, said about the reason for the decision. “It costs about a million kroner per day to host the parties and we felt that the city centre party was the most crowded.” 

Distortion’s street parties remain free, but organisers encourage those attending to purchase a 100 kroner bracelet to help defray the cost of holding them. Those who purchase the bracelet get a free beer at a Friday harbour party and free S-train rides during the week. 

After facing criticism from City Hall and residents for problems with noise and litter, Distortion’s organisers have in recent years sought to take a more professional approach to what has become one of the country’s largest festivals attracting as many as 100,000 people to some events.

What hasn’t changed, though, is the philosophy behind the idea of holding parties in outdoor urban locations. 

“Each year we try to challenge people’s conception of the city. If you live in Copenhagen it is so easy to become too accustomed to the city and start moving on autopilot without experiencing it,” said Plaetner. “So we wanted to see what happens if you took the small town concept of the harbour festival and mixed it with the big city street-party.”  

It can be hard to navigate the massive festival, so Plaetner also has some recommendations for those overwhelmed by Distortion.

Thursday’s main party will be held in collaboration with UK-based label Phantasy Sounds and held at an old parking garage at Langebro Bridge. “The venue has never been used for a party before, until now it has just been used by Charlie the car mechanic,” Plaesner said. Earlier in the day residents of Istegade in Vesterbro are asked to tune their radios to 102.3 FM and crank their music out into the street for a collective ghetto blaster party.

On Friday, the main event will be held on the waterfront at Refshaleøen. There you can meet a brigade of crazy Germans driving fire trucks, go to a gay party and see big art installations.

“Then of course there is the final party on Saturday,” said Plaetner, which also takes place at Refshaleøen and will offer up music and DJs from 4pm until about 10am. 

In the interest of full disclosure, Distortion’s founder, Thomas Dalvang Fleurquin, was also one of the founders of The Copenhagen Post.

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