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Why Sydney Sucks and/or How I Got a Free Ticket to a Danish Music Festival


Photo by Peter Erichsen (Hi-res)

Sydney, you have a problem. No it's not your unfortunate proximity to the beach, or your regrettable aversion to perfect weather or your ill-fated preference for well-balanced, perfectly proportioned, slightly crude women. All that — in case you're not familiar with the concept of sarcasm — is about as far from a problem as any normal man can fathom. You've got a lot going for you. No, your problem is your government, and more particularly, their policies on public demonstrations of the tent poles of communism: camaraderie, brotherhood and solidarity, aka, hanging out with your mates drinking a few beers.

Think about it, when is the last time you actually hung out on the street and drank in a public area? I already know the answer and it involves the words "When I" and also the words "was sixteen". Which is fine, except for the fact that you're almost 29 and are thinking about buying a place and getting your lady friend pregnant at the current minute. Which is also fine, except for the fact that the city/town/commune you live in won't allow you a few minutes of refuge from the life that seems to be passing you by, by allowing you the luxury of drinking a harmless beer wherever the fuck you choose to do so. I'm talking about adults drinking adult drinks having adult conversations and maybe mooning a grandma out on her afternoon shopping run.

Compare and contrast this with Europe, and for the purposes of this article, the two cities I have the most personal experience with: Berlin and Copenhagen. Berlin's hedonistic reputation obviously proceeds it. Case in point: while out at a small club with a few vague acquaintances on Friday night, one of them — a girl, couldn't be older than 21, only three weeks in to an internship at an International NGO here in Berlin — developed a fascination with a doorway coming off one of the main rooms that appeared to be guarded by a man squatting in it. Her logical conclusion? Obviously it was the orgy room, because all clubs in Berlin obviously have orgy rooms and everyone has sex and takes fistfuls of drugs and stays up for 96 hours straight every weekend. In this particular case it turned out the room was simply for storage and very few (none) illicit activities were taking place in there. And while there's plenty of partying going on, it's mostly full of normal people living their otherwise normal lives. But the point is that you don't need me to tell you about Berlin as you've already invented all of the fantastical things that happen here on a daily basis.

Copenhagen on the other hand is a much more interesting case study in how a modern society can function. The city itself is void of the extreme xenophobia that runs rampant in other parts of the country, and in fact expanding on that, is void of almost all of the other negative elements that make life shit: traffic, noise, pollution and a ban on enjoying life. In it's place: oceans of bicycles, peaceful green surrounds, beautiful intelligent and educated people and an annual summer festival calendar that is without hyperbole the best in the world.

The highlight of the season is undoubtedly Distortion, a five day festival that takes over the entire city with live bands, DJs and street parties the nature of which would be nigh on unachievable in almost any other city on earth, and unfathomable to even attempt in Sydney. An entirely different suburb of town is shut down each afternoon to make way for the thousands of people milling about, dancing and chatting with their friends in the sunshine. Alcohol is sold freely in the streets as part of the festival, and no attempts are made to blockade areas or perform overzealous bag checks. Police presence is rarely noticed, and when you do they always look bored, or sometimes even entertained and smiling, perhaps even enjoying being out amongst the masses. Incidents or threats of violence or antisocial behaviour are essentially non-existent. In fact there's a distinct lack of that particular brand of dick-head that almost invariably makes a night out in Sydney an uncomfortable experience at best and a painful one at worst. The festival's overwhelming strength is the positive mental attitude it is able to inspire in all those it touches. The impressive line-up of DJs (which I will freely admit I know nothing about) manage to get the cool kids excited, and bands that sing in exotic foreign languages — as impressive a feat as it is to organise such a thing — is monumentally overshadowed by the infectious good mood that permeates every corner of the city for the duration of the party.

I've been living here in Berlin for almost a year now, and for the most part am happy with my decision to move from Copenhagen, a place I'd been for three and a half years and was ready for a change from. But if I said I didn't miss the place, the people and their perfectly balanced approach to life, I'd be lying. And it's for that reason I've enthusiastically jumped at any chance I've had to return. And it's why I'll be hopping a flight on Wednesday to partake in Distortion again this year, and would recommend to anyone with the time and means to make sure they do the same. And while I'm there I'll pour out a little Danish beer on to the pavement in memory of a town called Sydney, so filled with promise and potential and energy, but that — in the opinions of a few boring politicians — seemingly can't be trusted to behave itself.

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Comments

aleaf

Well done. Sydney certainly has its great great aspects. The truth is (as a new to sydney from overseas) that peple here drink to get DRUNK! Its not europe, or Portland where people drink good beer, and enjoy the vibe. People here get drunk, puke, and fight, and yell. rather than drinking, laughing, singing and dancing. Too many macho comacho Aussie guys for all of this to happen here. If we want freedom we have to take responsibility. If we want want to drink outside in the sun, and dance and sing, we can't tolerate dickheads getting smashed and fighting and yelling. Its up to the kids in this community to define the culture, and to create a community that would lead to these things being possible. Its not the government's fault, it's ours. Otherwise we will spend the rest of our youth flyig to copenhagen, berlin, NY, CA, and taking trains to new castle (summer vibes, totally autumn, etc., where they seem to be able to pull of a festival every few month now (way to go folks) because the sydney kids just won't support it.
maybe you all think this is some sort of rant. Go to a festival sober at some point in the next year, and look around. Its the real deal. Sydney kids are ridiculous. They don't dance, they don't sing, they drink way too much, and they miss out on the feeling, and bonding that this article is so perfectly asking for.

9 years ago

Remmy

Everyone knows Sydney sucks... They drink to numb the pain.... :)

9 years ago

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