ORANGE TOGETHER AT ROSKILDE FESTIVAL – Serious matters for the party people!

Roskilde Festival – a temporary city of joy, music, art and all that belongs to a festival this size. Roskilde Festival (RF) is kind of unique: in it‘s way to bring music and art projects together, but also in many aspects of festival organisation and taking care. As many know, RF is a non profit organisation – spending al it‘s profits for special projects. Another aspect of being „social“: initialising projects for and with the festival guests. The Orange Together Game is an example for that „social responsibility“. We talked to Christina Bilde, spokeswoman of the festival. Interview by Martin Hannig , pics by (c): Stiig Hougesen (by courtesy of Roskilde Festival) Christina, what does Social Responsibility means to you?

Christina: It is what we are, because we are non profit, arranged by a society with a non profit purpose. Automatically our core values are with social responsibility. And we make a difference by putting the focus even on social issues outside the festival. How can you fill up the word social responsibility with life? And get contact to the people in that way?

Christina: In different ways. We learn something from our experiences. You have to do it in a special way when you have a festival like ours. For many years we‘ve been working with initiatives that were symbolic and easy to go to. But we‘ve also found out that experiencing the free and expanding spirit of RF means that people are very open minded here and taking care of each other. It creates another kind of sensibility and thus we can take care of more serious matters and have conversations about that. Thats why we work with a very symbolic fun attitude towards this issues, but also with a serious aspect in it. Is it hard to transport your serious issues? On the one hand you got the people in a party mood in the camp. on the other your serious aspects. Does it fit in any way?

Christina: It fits very well, but you have to know what you are doing. You always have to consider the context. If you have an issue you find important it‘s not enough to go talk to the already interested people you find. When you want to get in contact to the people wo are not engaged you have to create some kind of icebreaking. That can be a contest or a game. This year we developed a playing card… I just had the chance to take a look at it. It was in danish but I can imagine what it‘s all about.

Christina: We call it „Orange Together“ – exploring lols lust love and limits. RF is a safe place. People feel comfortable and safe, wild and loving and caring. There‘s a lot of partying and drinking. In general it‘s just sa very nice place. But we do experience some challenges with sexual harrassment and sexism- we‘ve been aware of this for some years. We tried to find out in which areas its more visible and tried to find out what can we do. We‘ve been recommended as RF to have a clear statement about this. When people were crossing other people limits, they excused themselves by saying „come down, this is RF“. It‘s important for us to take a stand, but also to hold on to the free spirit of RF as a positive thing. So we‘ve created this card game. It was inspired by a game called Cards Against Humanity. We have one card with questions relating to some kind of social dilemmas, and the other cards are answers. Some anwers are absurd, some serious or dialogue seeking. The dilemmas we created are dilemmas you recognize from RF and other festive settings. Like „how do you show a girl that you like her“ or more seroius: „is it ok to say no when you‘ve said yes“. The point is, there are no right or wrong answers. These answers at one point could push you into a conversation about limits and finding out about setting your own limits. Or even more important: how can we together create an awareness of where our limits are. Limits can change, they are individual. The may develope from one situation to another. What we know: young people at least in Denmark by using social media are very used to discus sex and porn. But the more intimate matters, when you feel insecure – that‘s a more difficult conversation to have. The cards were created to start that conversation. We have 120 volunteers going out representing 6 different organisations like for example Amnesty International or Sex & Society. They are going out all over the camping area. That‘s quite much!

Christina: We have never had so many people working with one specific issue around the entire camping area,  also in the volunteer camps. We try to get the knowledge what peoples concerns are. If we get it, we can use it as a festival, but we can also use it outside the festival. And that is where the social responsibility comes in! This is where we can make a difference, not just for ourselves but actually outside. We‘ve had a lot of awareness from other organisatins and from other festivals. We hope we find out if the card game needs to be changed a bit, and then maybe we can work with it outside, for instance in schools. So this can turn out to be a mind changer also in the educational area! But what can you say about the feedback here at RF?

Christina: It‘s been very well appreciated in the camps, and also the organisations say it worked very well. The camps really wanna play and really wanna talk about it! That‘s interesting because I guess it‘s hard to get into the party peoples minds with this issue….

Christina: The thing is: they don‘t party all the time. When they wake up, they are kind of tired, and there‘s a certain kind of sensitivity and a special open mindedness. That means you can have this kind of conversations. It‘s very much possible when you do it in the right way. Almost every one said: we need this kind of conversation. It‘s important for us to talk about! I hope we found one key – not the only one – to start the conversation. Has the whole idea of putting this into RF been influenced by the #metoo debate last year?

Christina: I would say yes and no. We have been working on this for 4 years. Last year we collected enough knowledge to get the project started. We had questionaires and social workers talking to our guests. We had the police going round every day and some more. Also our safety guards learned more how to react in that kind of siuations. Knowing that if you meet someone who has been sexually herrassed or had a sexistic experience, how to help them or where to go to. I am not talking about the really serious situations – that‘s another area, we know how to handle that as well. Ok it‘s not white, not black, it‘s the grey area…

Christina: Yes in the grey area. And because it‘s a grey area we had to learn how do you help them to get in the right direction to the people who can really help them. So we‘ve been doing this for 4 years, and now we have the card game. But the #metoo debate I think it helps to get the conversation started. The young people at RF tend to be like first movers to the rest of the society. They would have talked about this anyway. I believe that the #metoo movement pushed the necessary conversations. What I heard last festival this is a specific problem of nightlife and partying. Metoo has proven that this is not true – it‘s a problem everywhere. So it‘s a thing that relates to society in general…

Christina: Yes and it‘s a bigger thing than most people thought! Especially outside in everyday life, in the workplaces. So you put this issue which is a general problem into this festival area, where people are not used to talk about these things. I guess talking about some problems someone has experienced before others is a very sensible job…

Christina: We already knew that is very sensible to talk about. Poeple who had these experiences were very ashamed. Even if it wasn‘t very serious, they felt ashamed and guilty. It was taboo for them to talk about it. Metoo movement has shown how many people actually walked around with these experiences not really daring to talk about it, because they were afraid of being pushed out of the community. One could say that putting these issues on the table you may be ahead in the festival market, and one could see it as a marketing vehicle to compete in the festival market. Or is it just because you are RF?

Christina: It‘s because we are who we are. When you say it‘s fahionable to discus these tings – that‘s not our thing. This is just the way we‘ve always been. The ambition of wanting to make a mark, to change the world, that‘s kind of how we are and always have been. With the position we have and the size we have especially in Denmark , but also in northern europe, we can make that difference! That responsibility we do wanna have! And that is because of – hey this is RF!