(An open letter written in response to criticism of the Copenhagen Distortion festival)
Dear Pia Kjærsgaard,
It is great that you have opinions about Distortion – thank you for giving me the attention and the publicity.
I would like to apologise for allowing you, as well as many others, to misinterpret the intention of Distortion. Despite our 15 years of experience as ‘party animals’ and avant-pop enthusiasts, we are actually a very new organisation – not establishing an organising administration until 2008 and not creating the non-profit Distortion Foundation Copenhagen until 2011.
After a successful – in almost every way possible – Distortion 2013 the time has come to ask: “What on Earth is the purpose of this Distortion madness?” Up to now, the answer has been unclear. But the good news, Pia Kjærsgaard, is that there is quite a bit for you at Distortion!
The goal of Distortion is two-fold: on the one hand, we want to celebrate Copenhagen and its spirit. On the other hand, we have a focus on European avant-pop, also known as ‘rave’ or ‘party culture’. A big part of it is about building a cultural, almost spiritual connection between culture-enthusiasts from Copenhagen, Paris and other big cities.
I am half Danish and half French, just like Frederik (the heir apparent of Denmark), and Distortion’s evening shindigs and Final Party deals with this cross-border city culture specific to Europe. That part is not so much your concern. The fact of the matter is that we bring together just under 11,000 people to the Final Party and an additional 10,000 to the nightly activities in Copenhagen. A large number of these people are foreign.
We have fun and don’t leave the taxpayer to foot the bill for it; in collaboration with the city, the police, Copenhageners and 150 partners, we use most of our profits to pay for street parties with the aim of celebrating Copenhagen and the Danish mindset.
And these street parties represent the spur-of-the-moment impetus to celebrate and capture the spirit of Copenhagen.
A facet of the festival specific to Denmark is that the typical Dane has such a comfortable standard of living – some would call it sluggish – that he can live without concern and enjoy a greater degree of laissez-faire than people elsewhere.
In other words, the typical Dane is usually in control of his anal-retentive side. When anxious and insecure, sometimes this anal-retentiveness side takes over their modest and open-minded behaviour.
You and I can agree that it is peculiar how the intellectual classes around the world, and especially in Copenhagen, want to represent ‘the people’ and ‘minorities’, concurrent with their disapproval of different facets in Danish mainstream culture.
But back to people’s anal-retentiveness: you should be proud, Pia Kjærsgaard, about the lack of anal-retentiveness in your country – and that is what we want to celebrate by holding Distortion’s street parties. Our proclaimed goal is that EVERYBODY CAN TAKE PART!
Did you know, Pia Kjærsgaard, that only four or five street parties are organised by Distortion each day, and that the approximately 25-35 others are organised by ‘street hosts’ – something you or anyone else can become? We take care of the permits and the safety – and we clean up after everyone goes home. That is our job at the Distortion street parties.
I apologise for it being mainly trendy DJ-culture enthusiasts who know about Distortion’s possibilities – I admit that the street parties feature too much house and techno.
On that note, I would like to make an offer: Pia Kjærsgaard, do you fancy being a ‘street host’ at Distortion 2014? It would be fantastic if you or some of your friends could organise an event celebrating quaint ‘dansktop’ music with the associated checked tablecloths, the melodious accordions and the Danish flag. I am dead serious.
The beauty of allowing ‘everybody to take part’ is that it opens up the possibility of a diverse audience of people. That is something an otherwise well-educated journalist writing for the newspaper Information has not quite understood.
With her head a little too far up her own over-educated derriere, she starts fairly by namedropping Dracula Lewis – showing that she obviously knows something about the music hierarchy, but in so doing she insinuates that pop artists like Medina and Jokeren aren’t worthy of partying to. That is a horrible view on life – snobbish and elitist.
The beauty in music and in art is being abused by that type of people in order to distance themselves from ‘ordinary’ people, like a tacky VIP club with a provincial dress code.
No, Pia Kjærsgaard and elitist culture enthusiasts, Distortion’s street festivity is intended as a celebration of the people – all people. The possibility of creating an ultra-democratic party, at street level, with an unseen degree of freedom, is something all Danes should be proud of.
It has emerged in the spirit of Copenhagen, of Denmark’s open-minded outlook – and it is unique on a global scale. That is what the Distortion street parties should be about.
Note: Pia Kjærsgaard has since declined the author’s request to be a street host.
The author is the founder of Copenhagen Distortion and a co-founder of The Copenhagen Post.