50. Celebrate murdering kittens

Before you judge me as a terrible person – I had no idea!

The week before last were a host of different events, all on different days, related to a holiday called Festelavn. While Wikipedia tells me it is meant to be the Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday, there was a Saturday night party at my college, a Tuesday night party at the Student bar on the main campus, another party at one of the other college and a Friday night party at the School of Business, among many others. In fact, I’m not even 100% sure I got those dates all correct, there were that many.

Originally we were told that Festelavn was Denmark’s Halloween, and the first few Danes I asked about it seemed to have no idea what they were actually celebrating/dressing up for. Wikipedia describes it as ‘Carnival in Denmark’ and the Friday night party was Mardi Gras themed (complete with beads being handed out). Was it Mardi Gras? Was it Halloween? Was it something else altogether? I didn’t know. But costume parties are always fun, why not give it a go!

Apparently the meaning has been murky since Denmark defected from Catholicism and became a Protestant nation. Anyhow, I found myself at the Tuesday night celebration and part way through the night we were all moved in to another room where we played a ‘game’ were a small barrel full of lollies was hung from the roof and everyone took turns at whacking the barrel once each until it burst and the lollies came out – much like a pinada. Some strategic placement in the line and clever aim and I managed to pull off the winning strike, but the victory was bittersweet when I learned what the barrel was all about.

Apparently back in the day they would put a black kitten in the barrel and beat it until the kitten was no longer alive. Sick. Supposedly warding off evil, whilst conveniently forgetting they were being evil themselves or something.

Last time I participate in any kind of celebration without a Wikipedia search at the very least!

I didn’t take my camera unfortunately, but as a consolotion prize here is a rather hilarious sad-cat-with-first-world-problems meme.

49. Get on the Vengabus

***Update to include more puns, as requested***

The Vengaboys were back in town and they like, they like to party. The kept calling out to me, like my Uncle John from Jamaica and we spent the night together, together in one room. The music was boom boom boom booming, the crowd jumped up and down and I was still singing Shalala Lala in the morning.

Serious excitement.

When I saw that the Studenterlauget/ Student Association was putting on a 90s party, I assumed it was going to be your regular old student party with a dress up theme. How wrong was I! In Scandinavia, when they party like its 1999, they pull out the big guns.

Time for some shots!Luckily one of my friends bought the lineup of the Club K (as in Klubben, the student bar) 90s party to my attention nice and early, as it was a sell out gig. Starting with S.O.A.P. – performers of the classic 90s tune ‘This is How We Party,’ followed by DJ Sash, a Danish duo previously unknown to me called Diskofil and finally, the headliner: The Vengaboys! I actually didn’t believe it when I was first told they would be playing on campus.

Obviously too busy making sure I didn't miss any front row action to even look at my own camera...Rumours were flying around that it would sell out, so I got one of the 1500 tickets nice and early. Others, unfortunately were not so lucky. There was a great deal of excitement as we put our lip liner and loud shirts on – we could barely contain ourselves on the bus ride in! Unfortunately our excitement was slightely dampened by a giant line at the door, followed by another giant line for coat check, causing us to miss S.O.A.P. Once we finally got in, DJ Sash kindly informed us we were going back to 1997 and it was all go from there!

No time for mixers. We had raving to do.In another Danish display of non-PC drinking, the drink deal of the day was 10 shots for 100DKK (about $20) which come in little test tubes with lids so you can stash them in your handbag. Perfect for disco ravers.

Sash clearly hasn't aged a bit.After an excellent performance of every classic song of the entire decade from a somewhat ageing DJ Sash, Diskofil made an entrance. Diskofil is a Danish dance music cover band who famously ran in to a bit of strife with Los del Rios when they recorded a Danish version of The Macarena which they called ‘Margarine’. In response they rerecorded a slightly modified version called ‘Disko Karina.’ On Friday night only two out of the original five were there, but as strange as they were, they seemed to be quite a hit with the Danes! Sadly no songs in English, so I couldn’t sing along to anything. The bizarre costuming and disco beats were entertainment enough though.

Not too sure what this guy was all about...

At last, after a 30min wait (in which we acquired more shots and positioned ourselves in the front row, centre stage) the stars of the night came out! When I first heard they were going to be playing, my initial thought was ‘what could be more hilarious than washed up 90s pop stars trying to fit in Driving the Vengabusto their skimpy old costumes and perform their eurotrash hits?’ I was suprised to see, however, that although 15 years has gone by they could still squeeze in to their costumes (just) and seemed to remember their dance moves. They whipped out all of their hits and I was amazed at how many of the words I remembered. I cringed at the Cowboy guy’s discoball jockstrap whilst belting out ‘Shalala Lala’, ‘Uncle John from Jamaica’ and ‘We’re Going to Ibiza.’ I didn’t know where to look when the Sailor guy pulled a Moose on the lead singer during ‘Boom Boom Boom Boom,’ and they went up multiple points when they confirmed to the crowd that they were the “Queens of Eurotrash.” Glad they can laugh at themselves too. All in all a brilliant performance and an epic blast from the past! And of course yet another reason why University in Denmark is awesome.

Unfortunately with the rapid dance routines, flashy lighting and smoke everywhere it was incredibly difficult to get good photos, but here’s the best of:

Also, a quick search of their website confirms they have recently played at the Hooters Pyongyang opening party, Berlusconi’s Girlfriend’s Sweet Sixteen Party in Milan, the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, the Vatican Kids Choice Awards and a Mixed Nudist Colony in Khartoum, Sudan. Definitely all real events.

29. Go “Klubben”

A few weeks before I left I was emailed a program of ‘Introductory Week’ – the mandatory Orientation Week program at Aarhus School of Business. I received the email at work (it was, er, definitely during my lunchbreak and definitely not on the work server) and like most things I found hilarious, shared it with the other two interns. We worked with contracts, you see, so everything seems funny in comparison.

The bit that we giggled at was the event called ‘Klubben’ as we thought that was the organisers being cute and translating ‘Clubbing.’ It turns out that Klubben is the name of the student bar at the School of Business (owned and run by the Business Students’ Association, Studenterlauget), which hosts riotous parties every Thursday night. Reminiscent of Pint night at Re:Fuel at Otago University, everyone is there on a Thursday and the place really goes off. It is much more like a nightclub though, with DJs rather than miscellaneous bands. It has a very cool setup inside too – the DJ plays out of an old school bus!

Apparently the University is clamping down on the Thursday night parties and this is the last semester they will be allowed. The main reason for it is the recent (and reading between the lines, very political) merger which has seen the Aarhus School of Business become part of Aarhus University. It has also resulted in some restructuring of the faculties and leads to just a little bit of student-association-confusion. I am a member of both the main University students’ association and the School of Business students’ association. Both of them own gyms, bars and provide various other services around campus. Unsurprisingly, the School of Business has the most profitable and commercial association, with a huge annual turnover, loads more corporate sponsors and a much more commercial structure (i.e. a board, rather than a council/executive although the board is still elected). The members of the board that I have come across were masters students, and love to suit up. Neither the Studenterhus (main campus students’ association) or Studenterlauget (School of Business students’ association) are particularly political, as the political arm is completely separate again. The Student Council is the political arm, which lobbies the University and local council on housing conditions (all too familiar coming from Dunedin) and suchlike. The Studenterhus is actually just run by 5 full time employees and 200+ volunteers as a not-for-profit service based organisation, rather than any kind of elected group. The sport groups are also separate bodies. Very confusing. To be quite honest I don’t even know who I am technically playing volleyball for as I think the sports groups are mid-merge.

The Thursday night party night issue is supposedly due to the fact that every other faculty holds what is called a ‘Friday Bar’ on, you guessed it, a Friday. Friday bars are a bit of an institution, and each department holds one that anyone can attend, each with its own theme/drink specials/defining characteristics. Some have live music of various genres, others are known for their cocktails and others are popular for their gender imbalances. I.e. apparently there is a high chance you won’t pay for a drink if you are a female at the Maths department Friday bar. Klubben (meaning club) is the only faculty that only allows members (unless you pay a cover charge, and are with a member) hence being quite contentious.

As far as Universities meddling in the drinking culture, it appears the Danes are a great deal less PC when it comes to drinking than New Zealand, with the issue seemingly centring on competing with other faculties and excluding other students, rather than midweek drinking!

13. Drink Danish Beer

As part of Introductory Week, we had a number of presentations from all the various groups on campus. One of them, the Studenterlauget (School of Business students’ association), gave a presentation on their various activities, many of which happen at their bar. At the end they had a quiz and were asking for volunteers. Naturally my hand shot up without even thinking! Good thing I paid attention because I won a bunch of beer vouchers.

Later that afternoon we were at the bar, Klubben, (means club, very creative) and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try my first Danish beer! They had Tuborg on tap, which was lucky because I had previously witnessed a fiery debate between two Danes over whether Tuborg or Carlsberg was better, and the resolution at the end was Tuborg (despite them apparently being made by the same people). Our lecture on Danish culture and mannerisms had explained that Danes don’t like to leave an issue unresolved or have too much conflict/tension so it was a good thing they had answered the Tuborg-Carlsberg conundrum for me. One of the German guys, however, was incredibly scathing over the fact that Danish Beer has next to no head and seems quite flat. It in fact became quite the topic of conversation (and confusion as I learned that ‘head’ must be an Australia-New Zealand term).

Another interesting fact I have learned is that it is really common for Danes to drive over the border to Germany to by beer there as it is far cheaper. Although from Aarhus it is a pretty significant drive, so I was advised I would be better off taking a trailer and filling that up. Very Boardwalk Empire.