My Copenhagen | Like Danny Kaye, just a little bit more distorted

Like an insane Andersen, Thomas Dalvang Fleurquin makes people love the city’s ugly ducklings for what they are

As part of our summer coverage, we've met with six Copenhageners to ask them what they love about our fair city. In our fourth installment, we chat with Thomas Fleurquin, the man behind Distortion and a co-founder of The Copenhagen Post.

If you haven’t been in Copenhagen for the past decade or so, you might not recognise the city. It has gone from a European backwater to a must-visit for gastronomy geeks and is constantly scoring high marks for its liveability. But if you ask Thomas Fleurquin, one of the city’s most prominent cultural figures, the only thing that has changed is how the world sees the Danish capital.

“I was in love with the city when I first arrived – the size, the biking and the fact that it was an underestimated city internationally,” Fleurquin says, remembering his first experience with Copenhagen in the ‘90s. “It had just as much to offer as Barcelona and Amsterdam, but no-one knew anything about it.”

That, to put it mildly, has changed. Copenhagen is finally living up to the potential Fleurquin saw 15 years ago. And he has made his own significant contribution to that development, most notably with the Copenhagen Distortion festival. Since being held for the first time in 1998, Distortion has grown, from a one-night event that had hardly more attendees than could fit in a bar, to a five-day celebration that draws hundreds of thousands out on the streets and into the clubs.

And yet, in the prime of ‘his’ city and ‘his’ festival, Fleurquin is feeling less excited. But it’s not Copenhagen’s fault.

“Copenhagen hasn’t changed, it’s me that has gotten older and more pragmatic. I still have the same interest for the city and it’s development – enthusiasm just changes from age 24 to age 39, I guess.”

Copenhagen is hitting its peak in many ways, but Fleurquin still sees potential for his city. He is a sucker for the run-down areas near the city center that were once industrial sites.

“I love that there are places like that, so central and yet so deserted, and bubbling with potential,” Fleurquin said.

He has a special fondness for Refshaleøen island, which until recently was a shipyard. This June, Distortion hosted its closing party there, and the area is sprawling with activity.

“It’s kind of like being into a certain kind of music or subculture and feeling it has a lot of energy and will develop. It’s magical. That magic will disappear, unfortunately, but that’s what makes it real."

5 of my favourite things about Copenhagen

Where would you take someone visiting Copenhagen for the first time?

Tivoli and Louisiana fully deserve their landmark status. Then I would take them to Carlsberg – not the Visitors Centre – but the botanical garden and the Bryghus area, and Refshaleøen, including the forest that has grown up on a toxic waste site. I love these historic areas with an industrial feel that are in a transition period. And I don’t want to sound like a pretentious geek, but the architecture, both in Carlsberg and Refshaleøen, is like music to my eyes.

When in Copenhagen don't miss

… a ride through the city by bike. Being able to get around a city so easily by bike is unique. 

Where do you go for physical activity?

My running route goes up through Carlsberg botanical garden, through Søndermarken park and down again through Frederiksberg. But I would also strongly recommend Refshaleøen, if you’re staying in Christianshavn or central Copenhagen.

Where do you go for peace and quiet?

 

I would go to one of the hidden rooms of our building complex on Studiestræde Lane. We have a secret backyard, I keep a solitary office around the back, and up under the roof with the pigeons is also a mysterious secret spot. I am a city rat, fascinated by old buildings, old stones, old windows. It’s freezing in the winter though! More accessible places for solitude include Assistens Cemetery and the garden with a fountain behind the Royal Library – and the surrounding area, with Tøjhusmuseet and Christiansborg also has a magical charm.

 

Where would you take a visitor to eat out?

 

Spiseloppen, Granola, Atlas, Shawarma no.1, Noma. I eat lunch on the first floor of Shawarma no.1 almost every day.

 

Bio

 

Thomas Fleurquin, 39,

Eventmaker 

 

Thomas Fleurquin is originally from France, but his mother is Danish. After spending a few semesters at the University of Copenhagen in the early ‘90s, he returned to the city in 1998 to co-found The Copenhagen Post. He also started the Copenhagen Distortion festival, where he is ‘chef d’orchestra’. When he is not frantically working to pull together the biggest yearly event in Copenhagen, he spends time in his Vesterbro neighbourhood with his wife and four kids.




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