Christiana

Posted by jswt | Posted in Audio, Denmark - Copenhagen, General | Posted on 31-10-2009

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(Note: Recommended listening for this post is the Raz ohara and the Odd Orchestra mix called Oddpod from Allez-Allez that I listened to while watching sunset.)

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Friday afternoon after finishing up some work, I strapped on the headphones and wandered off into Copenhagen… I’d heard about the Christiania area, and pointed myself in that direction.

Essentially, Christiana is a part of Copenhagen that exists unto itself as a free republic. Back in the early 70s, squatters took over an abandonded military base right near the downtown core and turned it into their own commune with it’s own tenets and laws. They’ve got europe’s largest organic food store, some really cool restaurants and bars, a unique bike company, and amazingly beautiful trails with houses tucked along lakefronts. And of course, there’s the bustling open air hash market in the centre of town that gets the majority of attention.

When Christiana started having problems with hard drugs and junkies, as a community they dealt with it: they told the junkies and hard drug dealers that they either had to quit or take it out of town. Since then, they’ve successfully limited the drug problem in town and created a thriving soft drug market. Interestingly enough, when the recently elected conservative government tried to crack down on and reduce the Christiana soft drug market, it caused an unexpected ripple effect. Where once everything was concentrated in one area, the market spread across the city, and where it was once soft-drug dealers working alongside eachother, it changed the market to biker and middle eastern gangs who dealt whatever would turn a profit without consideration for the damage. As these gangs have started battling for turf, there’s an incredibly violent gang war sweeping the city that has so far been unstoppable by the police, the damage from which would have been strongly reduced if they’d just let the hippies be.

But, the drug issue aside, Christiana is an amazing place if you look beyond Pusher Street. It reminds me a lot of the gulf island communities or places in the interior of BC where the freaks and the freethinkers disappear into safe havens and do their own thing. It might be a bit of a sore point for the Danish government, but everyone here seems to be kind of respectful of it – it’s kind of spoken about like it’s admired, and that the rest of the city understands that want for living outside the norm and is cool to see other people doing it. It’s like they all wish they had that anarchist spirit inside them, and are happy that people are resisting amongst them.

I didn’t take any pictures from Christiana as I know Pusher Street has a heavily enforced no camera policy and I didn’t want to be out of line taking pictures around the rest of the area, but I found a set on Flickr that are along the lines of what I saw and can give you a little taste of the vibe:



I left Christiana around 4:20 on a Friday afternoon, and was walking past a church with a giant belltower and a spiral staircase leading up the spire, so I cast aside better judgement and enjoyed an amazing sunset from far above the city skyline.


Came back to the hotel, knocked off a few hours of work, and then went out for a lovely late night tapas dinner with a few fine folk, en route to which we passed by this shoe store which had the most deliciously trashy onomatopoeia in untranslated form.

Went for a bit of a wander to see the chaos that ensues from what the local brewery has turned into a defacto holiday: The night of the year that Carlsberg released their CHRISTMAS BEER! Yes, the entire city was going mental and getting completely loaded thanks to a rather creative, patriotic and well purposed marketing effort. Smart.

Earlyish to bed to get up early for the Tivoli tour…

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