WHEN IT COMES to the Danish music scene, Pandeia Culture were festival virgins. We approached SPOT Festival, Aarhus with fresh eyes and minimal expectations: excited for what we might see, and open to the potential culture shock of attending the small, Jutland based event as European outsiders.
There were some quite immediately obvious differences to what we had been used to: the crowds were a little better looking, remarkably better dressed, of course, and considerably less drunk than their festival-going UK counterparts. Given what we knew already though, these disparities seemed pretty predictable.
What we were not prepared for, however, was the entirely pervasive, highly surprisingly, completely inexplicable game of musical statues that was played – en masse – at almost every concert we attended. The Danes, it seems, just don’t…dance.
From the opening night event, which was accurately portrayed by Jutland Station’s Katherine Dunn as “a crowd in black leather jackets, barely nodding with the music”, to the bigger shows throughout the weekend, SPOT festival attendees remained at a standstill.
— Pandeia Culture (@pandeiaculture) May 1, 2014
This baffling phenomenon was no reflection of the enthusiasm or talent of the performers, the majority of whom completely owned the stage in a manner that would have most audiences completely losing their sh*t in a dance-filled frenzy. But not the Danes. Broken Beat’s front man Kim Munk even had the unlucky experience of describing the gig’s next song as “a great one to dance to” before continuing to play to a crowd remaining completely motionless.
Concert after concert, we witnessed in awe a stone-like attitude from the audiences – the atmosphere completely unsuited to the rock and roll performances of those occupying the stage and instead reflecting the mild, polite interest a gathering might show to a speech about home energy reduction or a cat fashion show.
This anomaly wasn’t lost on US hip hop artist NOTE (performing at SPOT as part of an collaboration called ‘League of Extraordinary Gentleman’) as he shouted down the mic: “I know you all are white, but lets get some rhythm!” – a remark provocative enough to at least goad the crowd into half-heartedly raising up their hands when they were told to, and awkwardly bobbing their heads with a little more vigour to each track.
Don’t get us wrong – SPOT audiences were appreciative of the gigs they attended in other ways. Cheers were loud, applause was plentiful and we recorded multiple sightings of cracked smiles throughout the weekend. By Saturday evening, there were even rumours of mild swaying and foot stamps at the more popular concerts of Heimatt and Go Go Berlin. There just seemed, in the absence of manic jumping and flailing, a deeper void left unfilled by the distinct lack of ‘devil may care’ disco dancing.
— Katherine Dunn (@katherine_dunn) May 3, 2014
All in all, we were left slightly confused. Performances weren’t necessarily spoiled for us by the nonchalance of our fellow attendees, but we did worry that the festival goers might have dampened spirits for themselves. Somewhere across the North Sea, wires have been crossed on how to behave when an awesome band plays your favourite song live in front of you: we’re just not sure if Danish culture has been lost on us, or if a lively festival atmosphere has been lost on them.
Words and Pictures by Rachel Barr – Pandeia journalist, and keen fan of jumping, spinning and pelvic thrusts.