Danish Diaries – From the sea to Kapsejlads
Denmark is a land of many facets. How do I know this? By the best way – personal experience! The city of Aarhus has a bite of almost everything for a person who wants to experience it. The classical concert expert, the modern art fan, the research scholar, and any avatar that you would want to explore.
Given that Aarhus is a port city, it is naturally blessed with beautiful beaches. If you tried, you could hop, skip and bike down to the sea shore. Being from the coast myself, the sight of an unending sea with its gentle waves is a source of constant inspiration for me. Nothing can compare to the aroma of the salty air. The beach around Dokk1 to the beautiful beaches of Ballehage, Moesgaard, Aakrogen, Marselisborg and Risskov. What makes, even more better is that according to your taste, you can pick the beach which has a library or deer park or forest close by. Suits my choice of the hour and I always walk out refreshed!
Natural beauty is on one side and on the other hand is the man made one. You need not search far because showcasing that spectacular side is the Aarhus theatre. Being the largest provincial theatre in Denmark, it was constructed in the late 19th century designed by Danish architect Hack Kampmann. The story behind it was quite simple yet fascinating. The nobles and tradesmen of this city realized that to watch a good play or musical, the public had to travel all the way to Copenhagen. This was a long and tiresome journey. Hence, they decided to bring the arts to the people of Aarhus by financing and building a theatre here. The placement of it was highly controversial in the 19th century as it stands squarely opposite to the Domkirke (Central Church). Though it did receive opposition and criticism from the Church, the theatre continued to thrive with the support and love of the people.
Though the structure of the Aarhus theatre is maintained as it is, the theatre is now home to brilliant modern performances. My trip to the theatre included going to the amazing performance of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar in Danish. The enthralling performance by the cast for 2 and half hours showcased the singing ability, stamina and their acting along with stunts. It was a performance that captured emotions and my heart.
From the drama to sports, Aarhus has a lot under its belt. I’m not talking about professional sports but of the competitive spirit in the University. The highlight of the spring season is the annual boat or sailing race known as the Kapsejlads (pronounced cap-sa-lease). The race which began in the year 1991, took place on 28th April this year continuing the tradition. Taking a page from the Oxford and Cambridge annual boat competition, Aarhus University has been hosting this competition for 12 departments within the campus. The rules are simple – a team should consist of 5 members with at least one member from each gender. Each member should cross the university lake in an inflatable boat, drink a beer, rotate 10 times holding the beer as the centre point and come back across the lake.
This competition has an air of party and Hygge (pronounced hyu-gge meaning a cosy or good time) with it. The much-anticipated event has everyone around the lake with some even taking their spot the previous evening to get a good view of the race. The race consists of 3 heats with four teams in each heat. The winner of each heat competes in the final. Before the start of each heat, the teams put up a performance with a theme which is an equally entertaining part of the race. Standing in the crowd of around 25,000 people, trust me, it feels like a huge party. People coming watch the race are not only Aarhus university students but also students from various parts of Denmark. As I am typing this article, the after party of the race is raging outside! The atmosphere here definitely lives to the motto of first work hard and then party hard!
The race, the people, the art are all part of what makes Aarhus a unique place in Denmark and the one that will probably remain close to heart for a long time to come! Vi ses naeste gang!
About the Author:
Athmika Ramachandra is currently continuing her post-graduation studies at Aarhus University, Denmark under student exchange programme of Manipal University Media and Communication Department. Athmika is Gold Medallist in BA from Mangalore University, enjoys photography, listening to music, reading novels and trying out new food. A bitten travel bug Athmika cherishes writing and poetry and she is the granddaughter of Late Padyana Gopalakishna (Pa.Go), Veteran Journalist & Kannada Columnist of yesteryears from Mangalore.