Tag Archives: Culture

‘Smukfest’: Did the Danes find a way to have it all in one festival?

banner

Have the free-spirited Danes done it? To hold a festival where children run around collecting bottles with a smile during the daytime, and a Danish a rapper lights up a joint on stage without no one doing so much as raising an eyebrow – despite it being illegal in Denmark. And by night the festival is taken over by techno music, luring the crowd into mosh pit madness.

Pandeia presents to you Skanderborg Festival, or Smukefest, held in the middle of Skanderborg’s most beautiful woods; a festival where people can charge their phones, forget them overnight, and still find them laying there the morning after.

20140806_201655

Smukfest is Denmark’s next biggest festival, run completely non-profit by 12,633 volunteers who all work for “fighting against loneliness”, as they state on their website

55 % of the guests are locals from Jylland, but despite being mainly for Danes, Pandeia took a look at this unique event that is undoubtedly the most beautiful festival in Denmark – living up to its name.

Being very well-organized with limited ticket sale, the biggest perk of Smukfest is that you don’t end up spending all your time queuing.

The scenes are arranged in the midst of trees with lights hanging in between, creating a cozy and relaxed atmosphere. ‘Hygge’ is a Danish word that translates very badly to English – the best attempt is to translate it to ‘cozy’ and Skanderborg festival is the definition of cozy.

Despite all the coziness, there are plenty of attractive and exchiting concerts to attend. A vast number of musicians play every year well known names as 50 Cent, Bastille, Skrillex, and Go Go Berlin filled the scenes of Smukfest.

Some guests don’t book their tickets just for the music, but rather for the purpose of enjoying the atmosphere and having a great time with other guests. Plenty of guests come year after year, and even whole families attend together.

banner?Politeness and comfort dominated the ambiance; I was never pushed aside by the crowd, kid you not. Only that one time I thought it would be a good idea to stand upfront for Skrillex performance, an electronic dance DJ, in the middle of a mosh pit, that I was pushed back and forth. Needless to say it was a bad idea; I am not even 160 cm tall. The sweat and jumping didn’t seem to bother the teenagers who enjoyed it to the fullest, well along with my grown up friend who dived in too.

If the mosh pit wasn’t for you,during the daytime you could listen to more relaxed music from various Nordic countries, some of Denmark’s biggest rappers and pop bands, as well as some international ones too.

Nevertheless, Smukfest was not perfect. 50 cent, the biggest name performing at the festival, was a complete disappointment for many of the guests. “He just wasn’t good” was a common reply when asked about his concerts.

He entered the big stage with a golden chain and cab, looking ready to entertain, but ended up disappointing the crowd with a dull and powerless performance.

20140806_201647It seemed for a while like the concerts would turn out alright when he sang the lyrics “I am a V.I.P.,” sprayed water over the audience, and the performance slowly picked up the pace. When he finally sang “Candy Shop”, the crowd leaped in excitement.

It did the trick and worked up the crowd for a while.

The end was a mystery to all, as 50 Cent left the stage his band kept on playing well-known songs from different bands, like “We will rock you” with Queen, and as the crowd was left to party on its own (which was not a problem to it), it was left to wonder if 50 Cent had gone to bed.

Considering a bad choice of one artist, or perhaps just a bad night for 50 Cent, was the only downside of the festival that offered this variety of music, you should not miss out on this festival if you plan to visit Denmark in 2015.

Do we recommend this for non-Danes? Yes for sure, but be prepared to listen to a lot of Danish music – don’t worry you will be glanced away by the magic of the festival, kindness of people and well, let’s face it, the amount of consumed beer; the Danes know how to drink their beer – and become very friendly when with a drink in hand.

20140808_121522

If you have an unfulfilled craving to experience a Danish festival – that has it all – without exhausting yourself with queues or impoliteness, Smukfest is the one to go to. Families, young people, children, teenagers, too drunk and yet friendly people – it has it all. The Danes certainly managed to host a festival that has it all.

Take look here at the website for music for next year.

 

 

New Hamburg: Life of the Veddel

Veddel 4

Ever since I decided to go abroad, I have been often reminded by how little everyone knows about the world, myself included. We are bound by an obnoxious bubble of self-proclaimed self-righteousness and assumption of knowledge of worldly events; however, this bubble gets popped upon collision with communities we might know very little about.

Yesterday marked my initial contact with Veddel: a fascinating blend of people from 67 different nations, all of whom had left their homelands in pursuit of better life standards. For many immigrants, Germany has been a rather popular destination, despite the fact that the conditions of arrival and integration are not exactly ideal. Nevertheless, between racial discrimination in their home nations, along with religious segregation and prosecution for political activism, Hamburg in particular seemed a safe place to be.

Veddel: A harmonious entanglement

Veddel is a snapshot of a truly multicultural city within a city. Though it is commonly misrepresented in traditional media as being dangerous and high on crime rates, as immigrant communities often perfectly fit the illustrative material for that particular purpose, the island has taken the definition of “parallel societies” to a whole new level. Its residents, with the variety of their backgrounds, spiritual beliefs, education levels, ages and experiences, live together in a harmony most big cities with all the proper infrastructure have been unable to achieve.

Veddel 2

A live example of this polyphony is the Immanuel Church [Deutsche: Immanuelkirche], formerly an Evangelical center of Veddel’s mostly Christian society. Today, the church is a melting point of cultural dialogue, music, film, sports and other activities for the multitude of spiritual beliefs that inhabit Veddel, creating a network of diversity where parents, teachers, members of different religious communities, artists and activists had the space to develop New Hamburg, an initiative that celebrates the cultural richness and diversity of the island.

Along with the fascinating theatre shows, the music and the inspiring performances, New Hamburg Festival, held from the 3rd to the 25th of October, offered a platform for the residents of Veddel to tell their stories.

A larger portion of the population stems from Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia, and other Southern-Eastern European countries, but were born there as part of the Romani communities [also known as Gypsy, despite my distaste for the term] in those nations. Prior to coming to Europe, I had only heard of the word “Gypsy”, yet had never associated it with any specific connotation. Coming from Egypt, the only time I’d ever heard the word was in Disney’s the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, referring to Esmeralda’s character. Whatever I came across yesterday is how I’ll always perceive the Romani community, for as long as I have a memory.

Mapping life across Europe

One of the most intriguing events that took place was a series of presentations given by a few members of the Veddel community, where each one stood in front of a large-scaled map of Europe to illustrate their life stories by placing a pin in each country they lived in, even briefly, then tying a thread, each person with his preferable colour, that connects the dots in a way that ends with them settling in Hamburg. The map ended up being a canvas of intertwined tangles of threads, each thread representing a tale.

20141019_161621

Among the stories was a Romani man who was born and raised in Serbia. Being a journalist and a political activist, he was among the founders of the first political party that represented the Roma community in Serbia, for which he was prosecuted, chased by the police forces in former Yugoslavia in the 1970s, and forced to flee.

“I had to leave; I couldn’t risk taking my family along to face the hardships I knew were about to come.” Waving his hand across different countries in former Yugoslavia, he said, “I had no passport, and I travelled through Hungary and other countries on foot.”

Briefly narrating the story of his continuous abscond and suffering, he told his audience how he ended up in Germany with severe health complications, for which the authorities decided to give him a disability card to legalize his status in Germany.

Centuries-long discrimination

“With no mother nation to stand up for our cause, we are denied citizenship almost everywhere. Veddel has been good to us, but there is such a high unemployment rate, and we are increasingly misunderstood and maligned due to our ethnicity as a minority group.”

Originally migrating from India, to Mid-West Asia, and finally arriving in Europe around 1,000 years ago, the Roma have suffered economic, cultural and political discrimination at the hands of both communist and capitalist, and both democratic and totalitarian societies.20141019_202815

Upon doing more research on their history, some of what I stumbled upon was inhumane, illogical, and rather shocking. Not only are they culturally excluded from their prospective communities, but more-so politically. For example, in 1993, Jozsef Pacai, the mayor of the Slovak village of Medzev said, “I’m no racist, but some Gypsies you would have to shoot.”

Several far-right political groups in Eastern Europe consistently used the idea of ridding of “gypsies” as propaganda for their campaigns. In 2009, the Czech National Party ran advertisements for the European Parliament election calling for a “final solution to the Gypsy problem”. Another far-right party in Slovakia, in 2010, has used the term “Gypsy criminality” in reference to the danger they allegedly form towards the nation state.

Even in Germany, since they are not German nationals, they do not get the right to vote, which makes Veddel untouched by the hands of the authorities, and lacking in infrastructure in many ways.

“It’s a vicious cycle. Europe complains about us; they dislike that we are nomads, but what makes us nomadic is that we are never accepted into our host countries. We don’t know where to go”, a Montenegrin told me.

Celebrating diversity

Despite their rather traumatic stories, the Veddel community was rather welcoming. Some of the women grilled food in the church’s backyard, offering food at minimal prices for the festival’s guests. Some of them also joined to attend the consequent events of the evening. Children huddled around the fire for warmth, and by the evening, many people, mostly Germans and Veddel locals, gathered inside the church’s café for a welcome from the organizers of New Hamburg, ending with a warm “Our house is your house” [Deutsche: Unser Haus ist dein Haus].

Veddel 3 Veddel 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

The crowd slowly moved into the second part of the evening celebrations: a tour around a big hallway where several people told the stories of people who had immigrated to Veddel many decades ago, in German. I was lucky enough to h
ave a German-speaking friend, translating the stories word by word. Some of them would make us chuckle, others would give us goosebumps, and others would leave the ending open, bringing about some hope for a better future for the people.

A beautiful interruption of the stories tour were a short couple of performances by Rosemary Hardy, an English lady who had volunteered for the New Hamburg initiative as part of the theatre group. Dressed in a colourful Hungarian dress and seated in a chair while knitting, the spotlights would bring the audience’s attention to her strong Soprano voice, as she sang two songs, one of which was Hungarian, and the other was German, titled “Waldeinsamkeit“, which translates to “the feeling of loneliness you get while being in the woods”, reminding me of how many surprises the German language can carry.

Veddel 5What ended the night was an inspiring performance of a girl in her mid-twenties who sang in Albanian to the earthly tunes of her Eastern instrument, leaving her audience astounded after singing around 5 melodies that ranged from melancholic notes to upbeat tunes.

For our readers in Hamburg, I highly encourage you to visit Veddel on Saturday the 25th of the current month to enjoy more performances, especially a Turkish music concert. For more information on the New Hamburg initiave, please visit http://new-hamburg.de.

 

 

Written by Shorouk El Hariry, an Egyptian journalist who studies and lives in Hamburg, Germany. She could be found on Twitter at @shoroukelhariry

A ‘native to native’ guide to surviving Edinburgh Festival

philwirks

AUGUST IN EDINBURGH means one thing: The Festival. For most of Edinburgh’s permanent or recently adopted residents, this month long gathering of Britain’s finest humanities graduates (either in the show or, more probably, behind the bar) is a bit of a double edged rubber sword.

On the one hand, we can drink for about 20 hours of the day like Scottish people were bred to do (all the good hours too, leaving just enough respite for a nap and a fry-up between 5am and 10am). Edinburgh is full of life and sunshine and light entertainment and festivities. Almost everyone can get some sort of part time job, as long as they know how to pour things or juggle fire or cycle short distances with fat tourists strapped to their bikes.

But therein lies the problem. The fat tourists. The busy streets of pushy promoters and dawdling holidaymakers who cause your commute to anywhere to triple in length and hassle. The assumption by everyone that your home city is theirs to enjoy and abuse, like some sort of cultural Centre-Parcs. One minute, your quiet local comprises only of the friends, staff and fellow alcoholics you have chosen to spend your days with – the next, it’s some sort of makeshift jazz venue with a wine list and unexplained 50p surcharges on beer mats and toilet visits.

To help fellow natives struggling to keep emotionally afloat during this exciting but difficult month, we have very kindly come up with some hints and tips on how to not only survive, but thrive, in Edinburgh Festival.  We were going to give a comprehensive list of shortcuts, untouched drinking holes and indications of where you can find cheap ticket sales, but I feel like that might be too obvious. Lets make like a mime artist and think outside the invisible box here.

1) FEEL FREE TO BE A BIT OF A KNOB

martin robertson

Edinburgh Festival is famed for its cultural diversity. The majority of Edinburgh’s August residents are strangers to these parts so will be unsure of our usual social norms. They are also usually self-described liberals who will be far too embarrassed or principled to mention any funny traits you decide to adopt. Take this opportunity to recreate yourself for the month. Try out a new look, practice a hilarious walk or test out your impression of any accent you like for the festival’s entirety. There are enough w*nkers pretending to be something that they’re not that you’ll fit right in.  If you are Scottish,  my personal recommendation would be for you to try faking your own accent in an exaggerated, stereotyped “och-aye-the-noo” way to confuse Edinburgh locals and tourists alike. Textbook Festival Double Bluff.

#2: Get Political…

Ever dreamt of owning your own restaurant for a day?

Jani Halinen

Jani Halinen

Fancy popping a few coins into a wicker basket, one that’s tied with a rope and dangling from out of the second-storey window of a Helsinki town-house?

As it’s hoisted up, a queue begins to assemble to your side, and you check the map on your phone, noting the position of the next stop on your route. An exchange above, the basket descends, and delivers to you, a couple flawless slices of chocolate-coated bacon. This, along with over a thousand other eateries spread across cities in thirty countries, will only stay open for business for a few hours, or until their supplies run out. It’s Restaurant Day, an event that occurs four times a year, giving amateur restaurateurs the opportunity to open their doors – or their windows, back gardens, boats even – to adventurous gourmands with an appetite for good, home-made, and diverse cooking.

Started in 2011 in Finland, the intensely popular concept has expanded quickly, with events now taking place in over 200 cities each Restaurant Day. Since they are run completely according to their organisers’ tastes; restaurants’ fare and styles range from the professional or near professional, with multi-course meals and deluxe preparations, to casual distributions of baked goods and street foods. Likewise, their locations vary, with some restaurants popping up outdoors, some in businesses, but many more still are hosted in the chefs’ own living rooms. Participants serving food, register online where they can publish menu information and opening hours – attendees are able to track them on the Restaurant Day website or with the organization’s mobile app.

On Restaurant Day, all kinds of participants benefit, whether it’s somebody trying their hand at preparing and sharing 100 servings of their favourite family recipe, or the guests who will taste it.

Jani Halinen

Jani Halinen

One notable feature of Restaurant Day is its potential to bring people into shared spaces. In this way, it bends traditional social dynamics, since participants are often welcomed to someone’s home neither as a personal guest, nor as a traditional customer. Laura Myllymäki describes her experience participating in Restaurant Day in Tampere. “Even though the idea of spending time eating cakes in living rooms of people you don’t know might sound awkward at first, it is actually very easy, natural, and fun.” Chatting with other guests may seem matter-of-course, but it doesn’t go unnoticed.

“That’s already something you don’t always do in Finland – start a conversation with a stranger,” says Myllymäki.

Eeva-Maria Soikkanen, who organised a restaurant in Turku on the second-ever Restaurant Day in August 2011, also noted this element of the event. “I love the idea that people are willing to open their homes to people they don’t know. Some places also ‘force’ strangers to talk to each other. That is not a easy thing to do in our culture, so I do see a lot of good effects in this happening.”

Considering this sense of community, most restaurateurs are serving for the fun of it, and not to make a profit. Soikkanen explains, “We didn’t have any purpose to get profit out of having a restaurant and we set prices low. It was just to have an experience and serve food and cakes we thought were delicious.

The prospect of many unique dishes at reasonable prices is enticing, however, and it means that supplies often run out quickly. Sebastian Koskinen visited restaurants in Turku on Restaurant Day in 2011. “The food is made and served super fast. If you don’t get out of your flat early there will be no food for you. But prices are really fair, no complaining about this.”

hugovk

hugovk

The event is hugely popular, and it is advisable to have a well-formed plan of action when you take part, either as a restaurant organiser or as a visitor. Soikkanen, who served a mixture of cakes and savoury dishes in her garden, describes her experience serving on the second Restaurant Day. “We had no idea that the place was going to be crowded. It totally surprised me when the first customers came before the opening and we realised we didn’t know them. By the time we opened, the place was already full. I actually have no idea how many people visited but we had to turn some people away, because there wasn’t enough space or food. We sold out everything in a few hours.”

The event provides a grass-roots opportunity for would-be restaurateurs to try their hand at the food-industry game, and works as a venue for concocting dishes that are largely unavailable to the community otherwise. “Especially if you want to try something a little bit different in a field of food (especially vegetarian and vegan, or have a pop-up restaurant) it’s too much work and bureaucracy to do so,” explains Soikkanen. The event is also significant of a social thrust that favours independent effort. Myllymäki says, “The concept of Restaurant Day is a good illustration of how young urban people in Finland don’t just wait for something to be organised for them. Instead, they organise their own events and make them look like they themselves look.”

Matti Mattila

Matti Mattila

On Restaurant Day, all kinds of participants benefit, whether it’s somebody trying their hand at preparing and sharing 100 servings of their favourite family recipe, or the guests who will taste it. Says Koskinen, “it’s a really nice way to meet new people, build reputation, train cooking skills, and build trust. There is no better way to socialize than by eating – or cooking – together.”

The next Restaurant Day will take place on August 17. Register or find more information at Restaurantday.org

 

 

 

 

Zoë Robertson is a writer currently based in Aarhus, Denmark. She is studying a Masters in Journalism, Media, and Globalization.

 

That’s why vegans go to Iceland

 

LollyKnit

 

While in most European countries veganism is widespread, in Iceland it is just starting to be accepted as a lifestyle. But what can be learnt from the vegans themselves? 

Harpa Sif Arnarsdóttir, a 27-year old Master student in public administration and Sæunn Ingibjörg Marinósdóttir who is head of trading for health and organics at Samkaup. Both of them have been vegans for three years and believe a change of attitudes is taking place in Iceland towards veganism. Icelanders have increasingly turned to them for advice on the vegan lifestyle instead of judging them, which was the norm until now. Looking ahead they are positive about the future and believe Iceland has the potential to become a centre of organic farming.

What does it mean to be a vegan?

M: Veganism is a vegeterian who eats no animal products, no dairy, eggs and honey and tries to minimise the harm and suffering for the animal.

A: It varies how far people go with this, vegans are people who don’t wear fur, leather or wool or use cosmetics that have been tested on animals or contain animal products. Whoever identifies themselves a vegan tries to avoid animal products as much as possible – you do your best, but animal products are hidden everywhere and sometimes it takes an expert to spot them.

How is the general attitude toward veganism in Iceland?

M: It has changed a lot in the past one to two years. People didn’t even know what veganism was before. The reactions were a little harsh but it has changed and today people are getting more curious.

A: We think of raising awareness about it in a positive way, but sometimes it can be hard when people are disrespectful towards it. It is such a far-fetched concept to some people, the vegan lifestyle, some feel that it is diminishing to their own traditions, the christmas tradition for example when most people eat meat. In the beginning people made a lot of fun of it and said I was crazy. It felt a little like people were waiting and looking forward to see me fail but as time passed and people saw this was possible and their attitude changed.

What needs to happen for this to become more acceptable in Iceland? 

M: It is necessary to inform people. First of all, there is no need for everybody to become vegetarians but it is necessary for people to increase the amount of vegetables in their diet, that’s certain. There are also the moral thoughts, you ask yourself if it is for ethical reasons you don’t eat dogs but eat chicken. Last but not least the United Nations are in order to turn around negative impacts on the earth by pushing people to reduce meat consumption and increase the consumption of vegetables.

A: Vegetarianism and veganism are becoming more popular in Iceland, people are coming to us and asking for advice.

What do you consider the biggest misconception about veganism?

A: I have a very good story about that. In the cafeteria at my workplace there was once a discussion about someone who was a vegetarian and how this person along with all the other vegetarians were grey in colour, weak looking and losing their hair. The discussion went on how that particular person had lost all spark of life from her eyes. I sat still and listened while the discussion went on for half an hour. At the end of the discussion I said I was a vegan and asked if I was missing the spark in my eyes? The whole room was in shock, everybody apologised to me although I didn’t take it personally. I don’t know where this stereotype comes from, but whenever people get ill people say it’s just the flu but when a vegetarian becomes ill it is said to be because of a lack of nutrition.

People also think this is a lot of hassle and expensive but that is a big misunderstanding. This is cheaper than most other diets and not more complicated than other cooking. And the claim that we don’t get enough proteins or nutrition is a big misconception.

M: People also think this is a lot of hassle and expensive but that is a big misunderstanding. This is cheaper than most other diets and not more complicated than other cooking. And the claim that we don’t get enough proteins or nutrition is a big misconception. The diet doesn’t become less diverse, there are so many options with vegetarian diet. People tend to look at the typical dish showing the percentage of food you should eat and expecting that when the meat is taken away, there is a hole they believe won’t be filled.

A: Many believe it is a diet and it is very important to erase that misunderstanding, it creates a prejudice towards veganism. People are vegetarian for various reasons, some do it for animal welfare and then smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. Then there are others who do it for health reasons and don’t care about the animals. I think most people start for some of these reasons and than feel all the benefits from it. I started for ethical reasons but soon realised how beneficial it was for my health and finally I realised how vital it is for environmental reasons and economically important for the society. Iceland has the opportunity to become the centre of organic farming because we hardly use pesticides and we have enough energy to build up a food industry based on organic production. Sometimes you don’t understand why more people aren’t interested in this and that you can in general receive negative feedback for this.

Do you expect any awakening in this matter?

M: I think it has just begun, I think it is in the air. People have become much more acceptable to this.

A: I have so much faith in this, I have so far not found any counter arguments against being a vegan.

M: There are many vegans who speak of a general better mental well-being after the changes, people become somehow peaceful.

A: I completely agree, there is so much pride and joy that comes from having achieved this, it makes you want to continue and it brings you to some inner peace.

Only the future will tell if Iceland will be the centre of organic farming, it may have a long way to go, but a change is in the air for certain according to these two vegans.

Written by Kristrún Kristinsdóttir

“On good MDMA you feel euphoric and care free. The night just goes upwards.”

Pandeia talks to 22-year old Max, who has done MDMA since he was 17. Photo: James Jin (Flickr)

Pandeia talks to 22-year old Max, who has done MDMA since he was 17. Photo: James Jin (Flickr)

THE FIRST TIME Max tried MDMA he was 17. He was in an empty house, with a bunch of other teenagers and a bag containing around 50 MDMA pills. This was their recipe for fun and when the pills started kicking in they all started dancing around in a pitch-black room with strobe light flashing to the pumping sound of electronic music. Max was living in the moment, forgetting all about his worries, commitments and exams. Later they would sit and chat, smoke cigarettes, listen to music, relax, feeling warm, happy, with butterflies in his stomach.

The now 22 year-old Max belongs to the upper middle class in Brisbane. He takes drugs on weekends after big exams and when he goes to electronic music festivals. According to Max there is a drug culture among his age group.

“Obviously I like to do marijuana. I like to take MDMA or ecstasy on special occasions, if I’m having a big night out or if I go to a festival. At festivals in Australia, drugs are definitely a big thing. A lot of people do drugs there.”

Partying with Emma

MDMA — also known as ‘Emma’, ‘Mandy’ or ‘Molly’ — is a synthetic drug that has the ability to induce euphoria, a sense of intimacy with others, diminished anxiety and sometimes has minor hallucinogenic effects. The main effect is due to the drug’s blockage of serotonin re-uptake in the brain. This causes the brain to be over-whelmed with serotonin  a hormone, which simply makes you happy and euphoric. The drug is illegal in most countries, with some limited exceptions for therapeutic use. It typically comes in crystal form as capsules or pills.

“One pill – two if we’re feeling daring”

On a typical “drug” night, Max and his friends will pre-drink and then take some pills and capsules before they head to Brisbane’s going-out-area Fortitude Valley.

“We’ll take one pill – two if we’re feeling daring and then we’ll go to the valley. On good MDMA you feel euphoric and care free. The night just goes upwards. I get happy, jumpy and chatty, which I like way better than when I’m drunk – then I feel down, tired and droopy.

Max’s reasons for doing drugs, might be surprising to some. Doing drugs is a cheaper solution for him, and it lets him save the memories of the night out.

“I find it’s cheaper to do drugs than to drink. If I go a bar and buy drinks all night, the places I go cost 10 AUD for a drink (around 6.8 euros) – and I have a better time on a pill.”

“Also, I don’t like getting ridiculously drunk to the point where I don’t remember things. With drugs, I can wake up and remember everything. And when it comes down to it, memories are all you really have from a big night out. If you can’t even remember it, then why even bother doing it in the first place.”

A change in the typical drug user

As the Global Drug Survey and the National Drug Survey suggests, it is not the stereotypical junkie on the street that is the most typical drug user in Australia. As the Brisbane Times wrote in an article last year, there has been a demographic change in drug-users in Queensland and in Australia in general. It means that the drug dealers rely mostly on wealthy, functional and educated individuals who use drugs for amusement, stress relief or a good time.

This corresponds to the picture Max paints of the people he does drugs with.

“The general drug culture among my age group is mixed. A lot of people don’t do drugs and even though they’re not openly against it, they disapprove of it. And then there is the other part of the University students who like to party a bit more. I don’t think the majority does drugs, but it’s definitely a big group.

“Within my group of friends it’s completely socially acceptable. At least if you have your stuff together and just do it to have a good time”

Personal photo from a party Max attended

Personal photo from a party Max attended

The day after

Max tries not to think too much about side-effects and possible long term damage from his use of drugs.

“I did a bit of online research. I’ve never really worried too much about that stuff. If I can wake up the next day and feel okay, then that’s how I can justify it to myself. You can get a bit down the next day, but personally I don’t really get any side-effects.”

Since MDMA is usually produced illegally, users cannot always be sure of the content in the pills or crystals, and how clean it is. It might be mixed with other synthetic drugs such as ‘speed’ or meth that has different and often unwanted effects. However Max also tries not to worry about the uncertainty of what is in the pills.

“Obviously you never really know what you are taking, but for me the risk of something being really harmful is minuscule. When people get hospitalised or die from drug use, it’s often widely reported and a huge deal. But when you look at the statistics its not a huge risk at all – I’m taking a bigger risk driving my car”

“I’ve never really had any issues with addiction or anything and I wouldn’t say that MDMA is an addictive drug.”

Getting caught

Max gets his drugs through a friend’s brother. This way he mitigates the risk of getting caught by not dealing with drug dealers first hand.

“When I’m out, I don’t worry about getting caught. The bouncers don’t care. Bouncers know that there’s going to be a lot of people on drugs. So as long as you are careful and safe about it they won’t search you.

Online drug sales have, as in Europe, become a way to get your hands on drugs. Max explains that it’s much harder to get drugs in Australia, due to it being an isolated island.

“I’ve never ordered any online but I do know people who’ve ordered from Silk Road — which is now shut down — some who have had success with it, and some who never got what they ordered.”

Queensland’s battle against drugs

According to Max, Australia is quite conservative when it comes to drug-legislation, in comparison to Europe, and the legislation in Queensland reveals that the state is trying hard to fight drugs.

New designer drugs, often legally sold online because their content is new or unknown, are a problem Queensland tries to solve through legislation. In 2013 Queensland altered the Drug Misuse Act that makes it illegal to be in possession of any drug that is ‘dangerous’ – and has a similar pharmacological effect to an illegal and ‘dangerous’ drug.

The state is also trying to make life miserable for the biker gangs as they’re controlling a major part of the drug market by passing controversial anti-bikie laws. Among other things it means that bikers can be searched at all times if there is a suspicion that they belong to a gang.

While much seems to be done on a legislative level, its trickle down effect is yet to be seen amongst young people. It seems for Max, there’s no real reason to stop and until that point comes he’s happy to keep choosing drugs over booze on his nights out.

What do you think? Is MDMA a problem in youth culture? Should more be done to stop its availability? Or is the issue a moral panic in the making?

By Ida Nordland

Nude Protesting

Using nudity in protests as a tactic to attract more attention to your cause might not be for everyone, but it is normal day-to-day business for the women of Femen. Femen is an international women’s movement founded in the Ukraine in 2008, yet currently based in Paris.

The women of Femen have taken control over their own bodies, for the good of protesting against patriarchy and other related subjects. Their internationally well known topless protests have related to sex tourism, sharia rights, religious institutions, sexism, gay rights, political policies and other social, national and international topics. Even thought, Femen claims to be a non-violent movement; their protests are controversial as provocative slogans are painted on their skin. The police regularly detain Femen activists in response to their protests. Besides, some Femen members have been subject of violence, threats and other forms of intimidation. The regular media coverage on Femen shows that this does not stop the movement from exhibitionist protests.

Pandeia has collated a number of pictures of Femen protests in the first half of 2014. It is believed many other protests will follow in the second half of this year. Credits: femen.org

 Femen uses their bodies for non-violent acts of resistance 

Protest against the Olympic games being held in Russia

jjj

Photo: femen.org

Femen Spain protests against the Catholic Church and for the right to abort

Femen Turkey protest against Prime Minister Erdogan and his policy of shutting down Internet resource

Protest photo shoot against child marriages in Iraq

Femen France protests against Front National, an extreme right-win party, launching its campaign for the European elections 

A protest in Paris with Femen activist from all over the word, holding slogans condemning sharia ruling that prevails in certain Middle Eastern countries against girls and women

In a protest Femen demands Putin to take a step back from sovereign Ukraine

 

By Lotte Kamphuis