It’s early on Sunday morning. Damon Albarn is drunk and has to be forcefully removed from his five-hour-long marathon show Africa Express on the Arena Stage. For the few brave souls still standing, reality is setting in – the Roskilde Festival is over. A long week of making friends, going to concerts and having fun, gives way to the real world.
But it also allows for a return to warm beds, cool bedrooms, regular showers. A return to healthy living, vegetables and chamomile tea. And thank Christ for that.
“I’ve probably had like a hundred beers during the week,” says Emil, an incredibly buff guy who is rummaging alone through his camp.
“Back home that would be way too much, but it is just the culture down here. People get drunk and start talking to each other, it loosens people up and the festival wouldn’t be the same without it. Now I’m sounding like an alcoholic, but I don’t think people would be as open without it. It is the Orange Feeling.”
But the downside to drinking is the inevitable and horrifying hangover.
“It is all fun and games when you are drinking at night,” says David. I meet him with his friend Martin who are gearing up for the final push.
“When it’s dark at night it feels like the fun will never end. But then its suddenly 5am, the sun is burning through your tent, loud music is banging next to your head and you realize that you’ve got to cure yet another hangover,” says David, before Martin chimes in.
“But it only takes the ‘three S’s’ to get going again: a shit, shower and a shave. Still, many of us will need a long detox after this. Eat some vegetables, sweat and get cared for by our mothers.”
Outside the festival, sleep would be used to recover from over exertion. But within the heat trap of a polyester cocoon, there is little recovery from the partying in the festival’s camping grounds.
The perilous drinking and dangerously little sleep isn’t helped by a toilet situation that can best be described as ‘alternative’. The heat builds within the blue porta potties, creating a vile odour that spills out a great distance.
“Going to the toilet is pretty bad, but I’ve learned to look straight at the door and not think about it,” says Talulah from the UK. “The toilet graffiti is also pretty cool, the art helps through the pain.”
The smell of human waste is amplified by the rising smell of hot trash. Tins of tuna and toilet paper litter a landscape reminiscent of Mad Max dystopia. It must take months to clean.
“Just look around, it’s fucking horrible, what more can you say?” says Viktor, whose camp appears to be destroyed by a bomb.
“But with it comes this sense of freedom. If I could do this at home and know that somebody would clean after me, then that would be kind of cool. That is if it weren’t for the smell.”
Going to a festival is also expensive and time consuming, and hours are wasted in queues waiting to buy overpriced food and drink.
“I don’t think I’ll look at my bank statement until the next pay day,” says Kristine. “After last year’s festival I realised that I had spent over 3000 kroner just on Jager Bombs.”
Christoffer is standing in line at the Tuborg beer tent and says he spends up to 700 kroner per day at the festival.
“I think the prices could be better. 40 kroner is too much to spend on a beer when you’re a penniless student. Roskilde should remember its audience. A lot of people will be too afraid to look at their bank statements when they get home. The food is really where you get ripped off. I bought a taco with a side of nothing for 50 kroner.”
Ultimately, Roskilde Festival is the truest testament to the endurance and resilience of the human body. A punishing week of overspending, over-drinking and under-sleeping in a post apocalyptic trash world. A hangover for the body, the wallet and the natural world.
But everyone at the festival seems to agree – it was all worth it. M