Copenhagen – Calm & Chaos

Urban planners everywhere have been taking note of Copenhagen. Rapid Urbanization requires that the time to execute on modeling after this city’s infrastructural logic is yesterday. The keys are walkability, bikability, and green space. The sidewalks, bike lanes, and roads are designed for optimal fluid motion of people (and pets!). And while the city is dense, its chain of many parks, and its dedication to green space even within residential courtyards nourish an idyllic pace. There is a Danish idiom ‘Hygge’, which is intended to encapsulate various states of living well and thus contentment & happiness…cozy, warm, inviting, chill, genuine. Search #hygge on Twitter to unpack this term. Copenhagen’s urban plan reflects this authentic Danish ethical value.

Frederiksberg Park, Copenhagen
Frederiksberg Park, Copenhagen

Despite this rather pastoral sentiment, the Danes know how to revel in the moment. DISTORTION is an annual festival that happens in the first week of June. It is massive. It is focused on EDM, and the party never stops over the course of 5 days. This year, it started in Nørrebro, migrated every day to other parts of the city, and ended up in Refshaleøen for a big bang on day 4. Of course, the 5th day was the Hygge. Put on some good headphones and watch this year’s official aftermovie below.

Even in the midst of chaotic revelry, a consistent Danish characteristic that I adored was how pleasantly polite they were. Equally pleasant is how nearly every one was very easy on the eyes. So, it would be hard to deduce, for example, that when a Dane gives you a generous compliment that they are just fishing for some in return. One would have to probe, à la Regina George “So you agree? You think you’re really pretty?”, to make that mistake.

So whether I was asking a Dane for directions, or chatting with a one over beer, or dancing with one on the streets, or helping an elderly one on the bus, or one was slapping me with a $120 fine for mistakenly riding the train with an expired ticket, the Danes were just simply charming. Copenhagen is a a rare city that made me feel very much at home. And this feeling is presumably an appropriate candidate for inclusion into the hygge taxonomy.

There is a neo-Darwinian theory which posits that evolution happens on the cusp between order and chaos. Viewed in this way, the Danes seems to have figured out how to strike a balance for a highly civilized way of living well.

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