Going Undergoing | No means yes: Notes from a late night on Skelbækgade

November 24th, 2012

This article is more than 11 years old.

It is past midnight on a weekday and I’m biking home half-drunk through Skelbækgade. A young man is crossing the big intersection close to the train station at the end of the infamous street. There are no cars on the road. He has a guitar strapped to his back and a more than voluptuous black woman in a short skirt and a big jacket fastened tightly to his wrist.

The streetlights cast an orange hue on the odd couple, and for a brief moment the whole scene looks kind of romantic in an urban street-life kind of way. But there is something in the way they move. The young guitar player walks with his weight shifted slightly backwards, like a child opposing the direction dictated by his parents.

The woman seems oblivious. She is dragging him along while chatting in that loud but detached way you sometimes experience when people use their phone on the bus or queuing at the supermarket: like they are the only people in the world, like the receiving end of the telephone is a magic void into which they can channel their thought-stream directly.

Live and unfiltered. It’s impossible to make out the chatter and obvious the guitar player doesn’t care. He is not there to talk. On the other side of the road, there’s a concrete ramp leading to a deserted spot underneath the overpass near the tracks. That’s their destination. The darkness.

Now, there is nothing unusual spotting a hooker with a john on Skelbækgade, but the constellation they’re forming speaks volumes. Why is he feigning resistance at the same time as he is obviously following along? What is he saying with that gesture?

Of course, it could be a lot of things or nothing at all. But it might also be something. It might be a symbolic illustration of the nature of eroticism played out in the slight shift in balance of a human body.

Indulge me here: think back to the last time you were erotically exited − not sexually active − no sex at this point, just excitement. If you think like me, the erotic moment present in your mind is one of undressing rather than total nudity, proximity rather than transgression, ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’. Unbearable tension. Silence. They are all key elements in the mystery of attraction, and they are exactly the kind of playful movements that risk annulment in the vulgarity of the financial contract.

When you purchase something, it’s yours. That’s the deal. When sex becomes a commodity like a phone, a burger or a tiara, you skip the play of eroticism: i.e the secrecy, insecurity and approximation. You shift from play to consumption and bust open the doors to a dimension of lordship and boredom.

I think that’s what the young guitar player instinctively knows as he is crossing the street. I think that his body is responding to the vulgar triviality displayed by his female companion and tilts back in a spasm of erotic desperation, trying to establish some kind of friction, some kind of suspense – a ‘no’ to contrapose the extreme ‘yes’ of the situation.

The couple reaches the ramp and descends into the darkness. I bike on home wondering if, from the point of view of eroticism, moral condemnation always fuels its opposite.

The Pyramids
Legendary US ‘70s band The Pyramids guest the awesome space of Byens Lys at Christiania. This psychedelic mix of African music and American free-jazz is usually hidden away in the underground of San Francisco. This is a rare opportunity!
Fabriksområdet 99, Christiania (right next to Månefiskeren); Sun 9 Dec, 20:00 onwards; tickets 80kr (at the door)

Lotte Rose + Golden Disko Ship
Lotte Rose is a brilliant young artist who lives to explore the dimensions of sound. She uses sound from the everyday and nature to create beautiful pockets of bliss in the matrix – bound to be a good Monday evening!
Ideal Bar at Vega, Enghavevej 40, Cph V; Mon 3 Dec, 20:00; tickets 50kr, include one beer

Ever since he was old enough to put dirt in his mouth, Erik B Duckert has been attracted to the ground level and below. The attraction of the underground, he says, is that: “When you’re looking at a city from its gutters, you see both the faeces and the silk.” His favourite sewers are those of Copenhagen and in particular those of Nørrebro and Amager, but any place where trash is tossed and skirts are worn, he will want to rest his eyes and say his piece.


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