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Noemia Colonna

Sweet hugs: Krammeholdet at work

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Are Danes afraid of getting to close to each other? Not at Roskilde Festival, a Brazilian first timer finds.

As soon as I moved to Copenhagen two years ago, I was advised not to break the golden rule that every self-respecting Dane makes a point on to preserve: Do not surpass the limit of intimacy. In other words, do not touch a Dane. At most, you can get a handshake, but be careful not to squeeze too much. The Danes has another notion of socializing that highly differs from our Latin one. No touching, and no invading their intimate line.

Break old patterns

But at Roskilde Festival 2014 I ran into a project that contradicts all the codes of conduct I learned back home in Copenhagen. Of course, it had to be at this festival; a space that allows you to break old patterns and create new ones. A group of volunteers makes up Krammeholdet, the Hugging Team, who’s offering free hugs to other volunteers, as a reward and incentive for the good work done. You can be hugged in the street or get a hug on demand. By email, a colleague can book a hug to another or to an entire team.

To better understand the process of all this, I decided to follow Mette and Louise, two lovely Danish volunteer huggers who are also cousins. Friendly and carefully, the two volunteers approach their fellow volunteers, offering them a hug. At first people are shocked, then they surrender. And at this point I confess: I was touched by seeing the natural capacity of human beings to give in to the healing touch provided by intimate contact called “hug”, even when their social code says no.

Photo by: Ivone Lopes
Photo by: Ivone Lopes

“You thought of me!”

R.I.P. Krammeholdet, long live the Cake Team
Krammeholdet was put to rest in 2014. At Roskilde Festival 2015 Kageholdet, the Cake Team, has taken over the job spreading good vibes among the volunteers with freshly baked cakes (as well as the occasional hug).

I asked some of the freshly hugged volunteers how they felt about it. “At first I was startled, then suspicious, but ultimately I was grateful,” a young volunteer gatekeeper of the handicap camping says. “I liked it. It was weird at first, but then enjoyable”, another one says, while checking volunteers wristbands.

Louise, a 45 year-old woman, who is volunteering for the first time as a “professional” hugger at Roskilde Festival 2014, tells me that the great thing about her job is seeing people asking to be hugged. “It’s like they’re getting a Christmas gift. When we hug volunteers working in isolated areas such as the fence keepers, they say “that’s good, you thought of me!”

Seeing Mette and Louise so comfortable in this role, which to my foreign eyes would be something quite hard to see – a Danish hugging and being hugged by a stranger – I was forced to revise my opinion. Social codes may impose limits for the intimate barrier, but nobody can resist to the healing power of a warm hug.

 

Food for Thought – meet a German volunteer

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Roskilde Festival is not just for Danes. It’s an international festival with guests from all over the world. Some of them even come to be volunteers. Our reporter Noemia from Brazil asked Mareika from Germany how she ended up as a volunteer at RF14.

As soon as I saw Mareika running around up and down and so concentrated in the middle of all that profusion of colors, smells, textures and flavors, I decided to talk to her. I really needed to find out what moved that read haired girl with freckled skin in volunteering at the kitchen of FoodJam, a restaurant with a do-it-yourself concept, located at the City Centre East Area at Roskilde Festival.

Mareika, a 21-year-old girl, is German and studies Nutrition and Health at the University of Copenhagen. That is the reason why she decided to work with food in order to put into practice her knowledge on this field. It is her first time at Roskilde and she is sure that it will not be the last.

“The first thing I thought when I applied for this job was that this was a unique opportunity to enjoy the festival while putting into practice my knowledge of nutrition”, she says.

“If I had not been able to volunteer, I would not have come. Even though I could afford a ticket, I wanted to be a volunteer”, she confides.

For Mareika, as for numerous volunteers, volunteering in Roskilde is a way to participate and enjoy the festival at the same time, while collaborating.

inter_vol_foodjam_IvoneLopes
Foto: Ivone Lopes

Danes are open and festive

The girl has been living in Denmark since November last year. She comes from Flensburg, a border city between Denmark and Germany. Her fluency in both languages allows her to be closer to the Danish culture. But despite of this and the similarity between the two cultures, Mareika sees differences and particularities between both while at Roskilde Festival, from the perspective of her volunteer work. With enthusiasm, she tells me:

“In Roskilde, Danes are very, very open and festive and they really care about people. Doesn’t matter if you work for 5 hours and have a lot to do. If it is time to eat, you are just invited to do so. I wouldn’t do this job in Germany, for example, because there would be too much stress. Here it is like everyone has to be happy, and I really like it”, she adds.

Working in 4 shifts of 8 hours each, Mareika is a culinairy adviser, who also does the dishes at the restaurant whose proposal is to teach the Roskilde Festival goers how to prepare their own food. For 50 Dkk, participants have at their disposal fresh and organic ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, fish and seafood. A team of volunteers provide orientations about the preparation. After fed, the participants leave the festival with a new skill: cooking and appreciating the value of a nutritious food.

Washing dishes with a smile

However, rather than see the enthusiasm of the participants on making their own food, is to see the commitment of volunteers helping them on this mission. Mareika confirms my impression:

“That is so nice being one of those people running around, helping people, giving them ideas, telling them what they could do and what they could experience themselves”, she says while washing the dishes.

inter_vol_foodjam_IvoneLopes-2
Foto: Ivone Lopes

As a Brazilian and an international volunteer at Roskilde myself, I get delighted with two things: the delicious food carefully prepared at FoodJam, and the impressions of the German Mareika when she enthusiastically accounts for her first time as a volunteer. Despite belonging to such different cultures, Mareika and I share the same enthusiasm for being first time-volunteer. And we both agree: there should be a restaurant with the same concept as FoodJam not only during Roskilde Festival, but also out there, in the real life. Food for Thought.

De usynlige frivillige

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De er talrige, og de myldrer rundt i landskabet på Roskilde Festival. Smidigt og næsten usynligt smutter de rundt blandt publikum, altid bærende på en stor plasticpose til de glas og dåser, de samler ind efter de 100.000 deltageres 8 dage lange fest.

Mange af pantsamlerne kommer fra etniske minoritetsgrupper, og yder indirekte et stort arbejde for Roskilde Festival. Måske er de ikke klar over det, men når de udfører en vigtig, men socialt stigmatiseret opgave, er de med til at sikre orden på både camping- og festivalpladsen.

Min kollega og jeg satte os på sommerens festival for at følge pantsamlerne rundt i nogle timer. Vi ville blive klogere på, hvordan de håndterer de lange og hårde vagter: mindst 8 timer om dagen på benene, hele tiden bøjet forover for at samle de værdifulde dåser og flasker, som de indleverer ved pantboderne.

Foto: Ivone Lopes
Foto: Ivone Lopes

Ser vi dem?

Det var ikke nogen let opgave, for pantsamlerne er generelt meget sky, og ethvert forsøg på at kontakte dem blev straks afvist. Vi kunne allerhøjest få lov at observere dem på afstand, eller løbe efter dem som to tossede pantsamlerjægere.

De dukker op ud af ingenting, og det er næsten umuligt at følge deres vilde race for at samle mest mulig værdifuld emballage – et hårdt og udmarvende kapløb, der går ud på at dække et stort område, og ofte udføres det uden sikkerhedsudstyr som f.eks. handsker.

Jeg lægger mærke til, at mens flertallet af gæsterne blot ignorerer samlerne, er der andre, der er hjælpsomme, og selv tilbyder den tomme emballage, i stedet for bare at smide den på jorden.

 

Foto: Ivone Lopes
Foto: Ivone Lopes

Ikke meget tid til snak

Endelig, og med noget besvær, lykkes det mig at få en pantsamler i tale. Han er studerende fra Nigeria, og ønsker at være anonym. Roskilde Festival ’14 er hans anden festival som pantsamler.

Jeg spørger ham, om han mener, at hans arbejde bidrager til Roskilde Festival. Han ser mistænksomt på mig, trækker på skuldrene, og svarer så: “Jeg er klar over, at hver enkelt indsamlede dåse gør festivalen lidt renere. Men jeg er her for pengene. Jeg købte et endagesarmbånd for at komme ind, og nu skal jeg nå at have tjent mine udgifter ind, så jeg kan tjene ekstra til mig selv,” fortæller han, mens han hurtigt snupper endnu en øldåse, netop kastet fra en deltager.

 

Foto: Ivone Lopes
Foto: Ivone Lopes

Et nyt blik på en vigtig gruppe deltagere

Efter en lang jagt på pantsamlere beslutter vi os for at nyde en af vores få dage på Roskilde Festival. Mens vi danser fra den ene scene til den anden, støder vi ind i dåser og plasticglas, der flyder ud over jorden.

Men vores attitude er anderledes nu; vores første indskydelse er at lede efter en pantsamler, og vise dem formuerne, der ligger på jorden. Og i mit stille sind takker jeg min redaktør for artikelideen; den korte samtale med den nigerianske pantsamler gav mig en klarere solidaritetsfølelse med alle deltagere på Roskilde Festival. Både de mange frivillige, de glade deltagere, men nu også de ydmyge mænd og kvinder, der hver dag, og uden at blive spurgt, samler dit og mit – vores – affald op.

In Roskilde, at full steam

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In the middle of the dusty landscape of the Roskilde Festival, in the K area, near the lakes, it stands out: A barrel-shaped steam sauna bath invites the festival goers for a refreshment of body and the soul. The service is entirely run by a group of fifteen volunteers. I spoke with two of them to try and understand the process of offering treatment and good vibes to the festival goers; a 25 year-old Polish actress, Nicol Malesa, and a Brazilian motorcycle mechanic, Renato Dias. Yes, in-between the shows on this incredible line-up, there is room to recover from a hard day with a good sauna bath – for free.

As a foreigner and a freshman volunteer at Roskilde, the enthusiasm of Nicol and Renato just intrigues me. After all, the job is not so easy: in temperatures up to 100 degrees centigrade, they need to clean up, lift the fire, prepare the essences and keep order to allow everyone to benefit from the relaxing effects of the sauna. It requires strength, energy and commitment. I wonder, what motivates these people to donate their time and expertise in all this besides the promise of a free ticket?

Fotograf: Ivone lopes
Fotograf: Ivone lopes

All relaxed and naked

In order to understand this, I spoke with Nicol. She tells me she loves the job because it allows her to meet people and talk to them when they are relaxed. The sauna offers the beneficial effects of oils from lavender for relaxation, ginger to prevent flu and eucalyptus to help breathing. “These essential oils bring relief to the body and the soul, both for volunteers and participants of the festival”, she claims. “One day, I spent about 30 minutes talking with a guy and I didn’t realize he was naked. The conversation was so good, we were so relaxed and at ease with each other that being naked didn’t make any difference for us. I call this freedom, my personal meaning of the Roskilde Festival”, Nicole adds.

Freedom that her fellow Renato also seems fully enjoy. Sporting a swimsuit and long dreadlocks, the motorcycle mechanic hurries up to clean the sauna, load firewood, and organize the queue meanwhile delivering smiles and hugs to his work colleagues. They have to fulfill an 8 hour shift each day, which is filled with experiences and stories that only volunteers at Roskilde Festival are able to tell.

Fotograf: Ivone lopes
Fotograf: Ivone lopes

The payment is a smile

This makes me realize that, in fact, the volunteer work’s payment at Roskilde Festival is the feeling of fulfillment. I get it from the broad smile of Nicol and from the tight hug of Renato. This is proof of how much they value their contribution to an entirely nonprofit festival.

Nicol confirms my impression: “I could be payed for not being in the festival. But it is nothing in comparison to the wealth I gain from meeting all the amazing people here. So that is my payment itself”. I agree with you, Nicol. As a volunteer like you in this amazing Danish festival, I’m reaping profits by meeting amazing people like you too.

Fotograf: Ivone lopes
Fotograf: Ivone lopes