Six Short Stories From The Roskilde Music Festival

Last year I wrote up my experiences as a first timer at the Roskilde Music festival. The festival is world famous, not only for its size, but for it’s unique and quirky atmosphere.  The experience was rich and deeply enjoyable in no small part due to the people I had with me.  So, this year, I recruited Juan Martinez, a close friend and periodic consultant for VirtualWayfarer. I gave him free reign and set him loose on Roskilde with the charge of recording, documenting, and then coming up with a creative look at the festival. What follows is “Obi” Juan’s insights into the festival as a long-time festival veteran and one of my de-facto tour guides.

The Orange Feeling (n) defined as: Good friends, good vibes and good times

Six short stories of the Orange Feeling at Roskilde Festival

by Juan David Martinez (flickr | Instagram)

Camp Unknown

My phone rang. It was a lovely Wednesday summer afternoon and our camp aptly named “Camp Unknown” was beginning to start the party in the camping area. We had one day until the music started and the friends who couldn’t be there the entire week started coming in. Beer in hand, we took in the much needed sun, and told stories of festivals’ past. I answered my phone. I heard a soft familiar voice, but seemingly saddened.

It was my friend Andra. She was in tears – the ticket she had bought was fake. The festival had sold out that year and she tried to purchase the ticket via an online website. The frailty in her voice drove a dagger through my heart. Some of our close friends were already at the festival and she was the last person we were waiting for. My heart started racing, and I asked where she was and immediately started running that way.

I told the rest of the camp what had happened, and immediately the party stopped.

Everyone got on their phones and started making calls. Andra was not going to miss her first Roskilde. Not if Camp Unknown could do anything about it. By the time I made it to the ticket booth, it was a ghost town, except her sitting on the grass, crestfallen and drinking a coffee. The raucousness of the camps could be heard in the distance, but in this area, the mood was sullen. The powerlessness I felt made me collapse next to her. I gave her a hug, and she began to vent.

What should have been the famous Roskilde “Orange Feeling” of good friends, good vibes and good times, tasted bitter and acrid. She asked to borrow my phone to call her friends as she had run out of battery. I could hear in her voice, speaking in a foreign language, of the agony. Emotions transcend languages. She handed the phone back to me and it rang again. Our friend Tania excitedly told me she had found a ticket! In fact, she was on her way to meet us, with a volunteer leader who could use an extra hand. I could hear the shouts of joy from our camp in the background.

We both hugged in disbelief and started making our way. Andra ran and hugged the volunteer leader, whom she had never met before, as if he had saved her family from a burning building. Camp Unknown would be complete. The Orange Feeling was back. When we returned to the camp, everyone cheered and the party began in earnest. My heart stopped racing. This was my fourth time at Roskilde Festival, and I learned the Orange Feeling can transcend the music and good times. It was also about being with your friends, and sharing this unique moment in time. Each Roskilde festival I have been a part of has had its own unique identity and memories. None have been the same, and none will ever be repeated.

The following are a few short stories of my experience at Roskilde Festival.

Roskilde by Juan Martinez
The Orange Feeling is a rollercoaster of emotions and sometimes you land on your head. In that case it’s always good to have friends to help.

Balkan Music Madness

The first time I attended Roskilde was in 2010 in the company of my classmates. None of us had been there before and we wandered into unknown territory. We booked a pre-pitched tent and went during the music days. Little did we know the festival had already been going on in full force for a few days by the time we had arrived at the festival grounds. Having never been to a music festival, I had no idea what to expect. Our group was fairly close as we frequently painted the town red together. However, being a music festival was an entirely different beast. After we dropped our bags, the beers came out and we began to enjoy the sunny Thursday afternoon. The camp was relatively restful, which is common in the pre-pitched camps. I joked around with my friends over some beers with no idea what was in store.

The music had started and those in the camp had gone in to enjoy the shows. We were just taking it all in, and eventually mustered the courage to venture into foreign territory – the festival grounds. We were in awe of all the sights, sounds and smells that come with the festival. On the way in, I saw a girl squatting to urinate in plain view, and was taken aback. I laughed it off, but realized in Roskilde almost anything goes. It would not be the last time I saw such a thing. As we walked by the regular camps (where people line up for days before and run to secure a spot) you could clearly see and smell the difference. The camps were a chaotic mess of people partying, tents holding on to dear life and thrash strewn all around. You could feel that the festive atmosphere, despite its outward appearance, was one of good spirits and elation.

Once in the festival grounds, we watched a few shows and made our way around to gain our bearings. There were plenty of bands whose grandiose and massive sounds would shake the ground like Muse, Prodigy and Meshuggah. However, one band stole my heart. After a afternoon full of beers and loud music, we stumbled onto the Arena stage. Walking into the venue, a German/Bukovinan artist named Shantel was on the stage with his Gypsy brass band.

If you have never heard Balkan/Gypsy music, do yourself a favor and go on YouTube or Spotify right now. I’ll wait. For me this type of music will put a smile so big on your face you might hurt yourself. The music is a mix of dance beats, horns and positive vibes. Such energy is hard to resists, and my friends and I danced and danced, and even when fatigue started rearing it’s ugly head, we danced some more into the early hours of the morning. When the show ended, I was covered in sweat and with a permanent smile. I knew then, this would be an amazing festival. Roskilde would indeed provide the good friends, good vibes and good times I had heard about.

Roskilde by Juan Martinez
Beer always helps, but beer bongs helps even more.

Friday I’m in Love

I had met a beautiful blonde named Line in 2011, but due to my travel-heavy job I was never able to pursue her or attend the festival that year. We had lost touch over the year, and I was disappointed as I thought she was one of the most beautiful girls I had ever met. I decided to give it one last try, seeing how so much time had passed. I figured she had forgotten me, but at this point I had nothing to lose.

Surprisingly, she responded positively and we agreed to meet for coffee and a stroll around the canals in Christianhavn. Line’s radiant bluish green eyes could not hide behind her sunglasses. Her short blonde hair blew coolly in the breeze with an air of elegance and mystique. I had always had a thing for blondes, and a short haired blonde really made me feel like I was thirteen again, nervous and awkward. Despite that, we had a pleasant conversation and connected really well. We ended up talking about Roskilde Festival and she convinced me to go. But where would I stay? She would be in the pre-pitched camp with a friend, so I would have to find a way.

I would be by myself.

The Orange Feeling would not be denied as a week later I ended getting to know a friend’s boyfriend, Kim, and his friends at a party. They were a great group and quickly sold me on the idea of going with them. They had been going every year for 15 years, and told me tales of their previous festivals. I was nervous, as I was the only non-Dane in the camp and worried about feeling out of place. My worries were squashed immediately the day I arrived. Kim welcomed me with a fresh beer, and I knew I was on my way to the Orange Feeling.

Thursday evening The Cure took the stage. They seemed to go on forever, and as midnight rolled around, they started playing their hits. The crowd surged with energy. Throughout the concert, I was standing close to Line, occasionally flirting and sharing lingering gazes. At this point I built the courage to put my arms around her and kissed the nape of her neck. Her hair had a flowery scent that belied the fact she had been at a music festival.

When “Lovesong” started playing, I started singing along into her ear. (Although I have a terrible singing voice, she seemed to appreciate the serenade). It almost felt like this moment was the instant you would later recall as the moment you fell in love with someone. Music is a powerful stimulant. Mid-song, I mustered the courage to go in for a kiss. The hair in the back of my hair stood up as I moved in. The kiss seemed to transcend space and time as I lost all perception of everything around me. All I could feel was her embrace and the taste of her lips. As cliché as that sounds, that’s one of the experiences that can define your Roskilde Festival experience. Going with a special someone or meeting someone who takes your breath away, even if it’s for a brief moment. That is the magic of Roskilde.

Sadly, Line and I would only end up dating for a brief period, but I will always remember that magical kiss, the taste of her lips and smell of her perfume. That moment stands out and has stayed with me, even more than our brief courtship.

Roskilde by Juan Martinez
That special moment when Orange Feelings are in sync, and you’re lost in that special someone’s gaze.

Dr. Strangelove

The summer of 2013 came around and once again I signed up with Kim and company. This year, would not be one of romance, as the girl I was dating at the time was not the festival type. I asked my good friend Kenneth to join so I would have a partner in crime. We went a day earlier to enjoy the camp parties and to hang out with the camp crew and get to know them better since the last year I spent most of my time with Line.

In the camp we met two characters, Eddi and Emil. Eddi was a cross between a rocker and a madman. To top it off his alter ego, Dr. Strangelove, consisted of a doctor’s outfit, covered in fake blood. He struck me more as a malevolent doctor, hellbent on treating his patients with shots of alcohol, than one who follows the Hippocratic oath. Emil was more of the silent type, more serious but with a mischievous streak. He would be a yin to Eddi’s yang. Funnily enough, Emil would end up having the craziest adventures that year. (Sorry I can’t give away those details… I swore a vow of secrecy).

Both guys were essentially campless, and had asked Kim and Co. if they could pitch a tent in their camp. In the spirit of Roskilde, they agreed and they became part of the camp. That’s how I met some of the people I would end up camping with the next two years with. Funny how you can make friends in such a scenario, but that’s the Orange Feeling.

This festival was different. I made the effort to go a day earlier to catch some camp parties. Stumbling from camp to camp taking in the parties is a unique experience. The vibes you get from people are so warm you would think Scandinavia temporarily became a Latin country. Being of dark complexion (I’m Colombian), I always get puzzled looks on why I am in Denmark. I have never really practiced my response, but I find it almost endearing how Danes can be so curious why someone from so far away would visit their tiny country.

Why wouldn’t anybody want to enjoy this? When you have a guy like Dr. Strangelove giving random strangers shots of alcohol, who’d want to miss that?! Most importantly, you never know what friends you will make on a random summer evening at Roskilde.

Around 22:30 on Saturday, the mighty Metallica took the Orange Stage with the theme from the “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” We had a group of 10+ crazy metal heads, some old friends and some new, and we were about to go insane. That concert really stuck out for me. Metallica always delivers something special in Denmark due to Lars (the drummer) being a Dane. The sheer energy and brute force really elevates you to another plane. We head banged and sang along through a blistering two hour set.

By the time the concert ended, I felt 10 years younger, and into the camp parties we went. The last thing I remember was seeing the sunrise, which in Denmark, at that time of the year, is usually around 5 in the morning. Exhausted from an amazing evening, I stumbled back into the tent and faded to black.

Roskilde by Juan Martinez
You never know what friends you will make at Roskilde. Having an Octo-beer bong and plenty of condoms doesn’t hurt either.

Start Me Up

The final whistle sounded, Brazil had defeated Colombia 2-1 to advance to the semi-finals in the 2014 World Cup. I was devastated. My team had journeyed farther than ever in its history and they/we were now going home. My friends Andra and Kevin hugged me and tried to cheer me up.

We had ventured into Roskilde City center to watch the game at an Irish pub as they were not showing it at the Festival that year. We sacrificed catching the Rob Zombie show with the rest of our camp to watch the game. I walked into the festival deflated, but with my yellow Colombian national team jersey still beaming proud. Random strangers saw my jersey and came up and hugged me and told me we did a great job. I lost count of how many hugs I received that night. It felt strange to have so many random strangers come up and hug you, but in a way it was telling of the Roskilde Festival vibe.

I convinced my friends to go watch a Colombian/European band called La Chiva Gantiva which would be playing later that evening to elevate our spirits. The atmosphere at the show was electric, my sullen mood lifted and I danced for an hour, lost in the music, forgetting what had happened earlier. Funny how in the scope of 2 hours I went through the entire gamut of emotions at Roskilde Festival, from sadness and defeat, to love and elation. It’s an experience that is truly unique, and every edition I’ve been to of this great festival has seen its unique slice of memories.

The next day the Rolling Stones took the stage, and somehow we got managed to get into the pit without waiting in the queue. Watching one of the greatest bands of all time take the stage and being surrounded by great friends is an experience that can only be described as The Orange Feeling. Despite being dinosaurs, the Stones can really give the younger bands a run for their money. Mick’s dance moves were contagious and my friends and I gyrated to emulate the master. This festival saw the drama with Andra’s fake ticket, Colombia’s defeat to Brazil and now we had peaked in a way I did not image. What a rollercoaster!!

Roskilde by Juan Martinez
Despite the roller coaster of emotions that Roskilde Festival can be, bubbles will always cheer someone up.

Let It Be

We stood looking onwards to the hill that lay in front of us. We had just walked out of the festival grounds after hearing the sonic assault from Lamb of God. It was time to head back to the camps and party some more. I had angel wings on with LED lights on them that made it seem as if I was an electric angel of death. A makeshift sword fitted with LED lights was at my side. My friends and I decided to escalate our festival experience by wearing costumes this year and we definitely went in the right direction. I was surrounded by two other angels and Waldo. What a sight that must’ve been!

The air was cool, as it was now getting dark. It was time to escalate. From a distance, we must have looked like aliens exploring a strange new world. We were powered by beer and adrenaline. Behind Dream City, we yelled “charge!” and ran up the small hill like possessed children. The four of us jumping over obstacles and nearly ruining a couple’s intimate moment. At the zenith we saw the beacon from afar. A massive LED light similar to the ones fitted to our costumes seemed to beckon us to enter the camp parties. We knew we had arrived at the mothership. On the second to last day we had an insanely manic festival. For the first time I had been witness to every day of the festival, from the camp run to the final show. We took it all in, overlooking the camps and smiling about all the good times we’ve had so far.

Roskilde by Juan Martinez
Two runaway angels…

Sir Paul McCartney took the stage Saturday night. Although the sound system was acting up, watching a living legend take the stage is a unique experience that Roskilde festival offers in abundance. Last year it was the Stones and before that Springsteen and Prince. However, this was one of the remaining Beatles – this was beyond epic. The first few chords of “Let it Be” started, and suddenly I felt an arm around my shoulders. I wasn’t sure who had reached out to me. I could see from my peripheral vision that a tall blonde had put her arm around me and her head on my shoulder. It was such a disarming moment and, strangely intimate. The tall blonde was, in fact, a random girl attracted to my blinking wings like a moth to a flame.

She offered me some wine, which she promised was Strawberry Fields Forever. I chuckled at her wit, and found her to be really sweet, albeit a bit drunk. We took the sweet melody all in, in an intimate silence, occasionally swaying from left to right or sharing a smile. It felt like a really idiosyncratic moment we shared, suspended in time as Sir Paul sang. Talking, asking for her name, or even flirting would spoil the moment, I thought. I will probably never hear Sir Paul sing “Let it Be” live again, nor will she. Ironically, a few weeks earlier, I had had my heart broken. Hearing Sir Paul sing “Let it Be,” seemed like he was speaking to me and my recent romantic troubles. Now I will remember the mystery girl every time I hear the song and the lesson of Sir Paul.

Roskilde by Juan Martinez
Interesting people are always to be found at Roskilde Festival. This nice gentleman, despite his outward appearances had attended 32(!) Roskilde Festivals. The evidence is evident in the wristbands of festivals past still on his arms Imagine how many Orange Feelings he’s had…

Parting Thoughts

It’s been an interesting journey these past five Roskilde Festivals. Every year a kaleidoscope of people come together for 8 days to share a moment that is gone before you know it. Every person that attends will have a unique experience that is exclusive to him or her. One hundred thirty thousand memories are made every day and night at that festival, and mine are but a few that barely scratch the surface of the gamut of Orange Feelings. Some are laughter, others are first kisses, and some are musical revelations. Each one encapsulates a different facet of the Orange Feeling, and are unique to the individual.

As for me, I am ever grateful for yet another festival surrounded with great friends and good vibes and good times. My voice was coarse from all the laughs and insanely long days for a week after the festival ended. Every year, unique memories are forged. This year was no different.

To my camp mates, I love you and I will see you throughout the year, and again in RF2016.

Roskilde by Juan Martinez
Camp Unknown and some neighbors

In addition to my camp mates, Alex, thank you for another year and for the opportunity to contribute to your site. In keeping with a VirtualWayfarer tradition, I will depart with a travelling boot shots (or in this case really dirty sneakers) overlooking Dream City.

See you in 2016.

Roskilde by Juan Martinez
Travelling Boots shot. Roskilde Edition.

Bonus Video: The Roskilde Run from 2014 for those curious about the insanity that is.

email

Alex Berger

I am a travel blogger and photographer. I also am involved in academic research into the study abroad and backpacker communities.

3 Comments

  1. Incredible experiences in the festival a lot of new friends
    Izy Berry recently posted..Great golfing holidays in Europe

  2. Great Tips, This is a best stories from the Roskilde Festival is an annual music festival held south of Roskilde in Denmark. It is one of the largest music festivals in Europe and the largest in Northern Europe

Leave a comment

Please be polite. We appreciate that. Your email address will not be published and required fields are marked

CommentLuv badge