Copenhagen’s biggest street festival, Distortion, has been growing in scale and popularity since its humble beginnings in 1998, and when it opens tomorrow it will be the kick-starting of no less than 155 block parties and many more club nights across the city. One thing has remained constant over the past 14 editions, however: With Distortion, spontaneity is key and anything can happen.
Imagine a festival along the lines of those impromptu happenings where hundreds of people suddenly converge in one place at the prompt of a text message, and you’ve got the impulsive playfulness of Distortion, a mobile festival that mixes all genres into a celebration of Copenhagen nightlife.
Simply put, Distortion consists of five days of free block parties from 4pm, followed by club nights from 10pm, with admission at affordable prices. Different areas are hit on different days: Wednesday sees Distortion downtown, Thursday in Nørrebro, and Friday in Vesterbro.
That’s the simple explanation, but Distortion is never that simple; not with thousands of people turning up to parties in boats, on buses, or parades. Last year’s festival even saw the party following a tank through Copenhagen’s streets.
Distortion 2011 opens tomorrow with a 90-minute street show in city center’s Studiestræde at 8.30pm, as some 14 musicians/bands and two choirs attempt a live version of a mix tape, with no breaks between numbers. Gang Gang Dance (US) Swedish Jenny Wilson and DK’s own Anders Trentemøller are among those performing.
One of the festival highlights is Thursday evening’s Copenhagen Paint Party, a world record attempt at creating the world’s largest collective painting. Comic duo ‘De Sorte Spejdere’ (the black scouts) endeavour to hold the whole thing together with megaphones and Segways, as a 100-meter-long wall is covered in 1000 liters of paint on Blegdamsvej in Nørrebro.
Photo from Distortion 2010 courtesy of Caroline Bach (Creative Commons).