Is the end in sight for Distortion?

Name change, reduced free entry party zones and disassociation from guests suggest organisers have had enough of the aggro

Distortion, the country’s biggest street festival, has changed its name as part of a bid to distance itself from the huge crowds that have wreaked havoc on districts like Nørrebro and Vesterbro over the last decade.

A little over 10 years ago, the single-day attendances at the early June street parties in those two Copenhagen districts rose from 10,000 to 100,000 in the space of two years, and ever since then Distortion has been under pressure to regulate the noise and pollution they produce.

Accordingly, from 2022 until 2024, the street festival segment of Distortion will be known as Distortion X – and it sounds like the free entry part of the festival is about to get a lot smaller.

“There will still be a free City Party on the street during Distortion week – but there we will avoid the name Distortion and the associated 150 percent uninhibited atmosphere. Not because it has to be boring, but because people over 30 need to be able to endure being there,” explained Distortion organiser and founder Thomas Flerquin, who is 48.

“Then we will stick to intense music experiences on the street, inside a few demarcated music zones under the heading Distortion X … because when you behave like an animal, you are put in a cage – that’s just the way it is.”

Protestations that fall on deaf ears
Some would argue that it has been on the cards for a while. In recent years, there have been signs that the organisers have been growing weary of the mostly teenage crowds, who despite their best efforts very rarely contribute anything to the festival’s bottom line.

More paid entry zones have steadily been introduced, and efforts have been stepped up to make voluntary donations possible. 

Every year, organisers plead with party-goers to watch their behaviour, but to little avail.

Distortion has not been held since 2019 due to the pandemic. Its small summer festival, Karrusel, will take place on Refshaleøen at Disco Skoven from August 26-28

The first ever Distortion was held to raise awareness of In & Out, a Copenhagen Post supplement launched by Fleurquin in 1998. Distortion became a five-day festival in 2000, and Fleurquin went on to edit In & Out until 2008.