Aarhus is known as the City of Smiles. It is the European Cultural Capital of the year. It is pretty and polite. But what happens in the basements, behind closed doors, under the radar? Is Aarhus also for the freaks, the geeks and the controversial?

My name is Emilie. Through a series of articles, I am going to dive into the secret life of Aarhus. I am going to immerse myself in alternative settings – both familiar and unfamiliar. My mission is simple: I want to explore the alternatives to everything ‘normal’. I will take you on a trip into the darkest, coldest, loudest, warmest and most thrashed places of our city. Hopefully, the city will intrigue you.

I am pushing my way through a crowd of people wearing glow sticks and wife beaters. I already covered my face with UV-paint and I am wearing a set of flashing leg cuffs. I am going to a psytrance event at the harbour in Aarhus. I recently discovered this community. The community doesn’t seem either secret or closed, since this event has been majorly hyped on Facebook, but it still took some research to actually find its existence. And now I am finally here.

Just like entering an airport, we are advised to empty our pockets and bags. They are checking for drugs. A policeman is observing over the crowd and the doormen follow our every move. I can already feel the bass pumping through my chest even before I enter. I can’t help but to notice how the people attending this event resemble each other. There is a very specific way of acting, looking and talking. I don’t necessarily feel at home but still the sense of community draws me in. I walk in feeling like I just got invited into a different world.

Inside the venue people light up like fairytale creatures. A veil of blacklight covers everything in sight and makes all colors stand out mesmerizingly. From the ceiling, heavy fabrics with glowing patterns cover the crowd of people jumping and moving to the monotone music. The expressions of the moves are strikingly different from person to person – especially considering how similar people appear. Everybody seems as if they are hypnotized or in a heavy state of meditation – all facilitated by this beautiful, electronic sound.

I go for a cigarette as the DJ changes the music into something even heavier. This is a nice time for a break, I think. I have been dancing for 4 hours and even though it is past the normal closing hours for Aarhus’ regular disco’s, the dance floor is even more crowded than when we arrived.

It might seem like a paradox, considering the extreme volume and heaviness of the music, but I can’t help but think that people come here to get a break, and to let go through movement. And to feel a connection to other people through music. While disconnecting with the rest of the world.

As I walk out of the entrance, I leave behind the oversized glow stick that a sweaty half-naked guy gave to me. I step out, breathing in the shivering November, cold air, feeling like I just spend a night in a magical, secret place.

All photos are taken by Emilie

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