“It’s a festival. The whole point is to be drunk and obnoxious”
a friend told me after we returned from Gagnef Festival to the reality of urban Stockholm. Of course I felt the difference between the flush of the festival and the more settled / stable life (or whatever you may call that life) back in the city, too – but I had difficulties with this formulation.
What was the flush, the intoxication that I experienced at Gagnef Festival? It was not the fact that one could be drunk for three days in a row. No, it was definitely more. Much more. Trying to grasp the feeling I shared with other happy Gagnef visitors I can say that it was composed by a variety of different ingredients. First of all, hell yeah – we had stunning weather! It was non-stop sunshine (well of course at night the sun wasn’t burning on your sweaty skin anymore but to be honest it was “dark” for the maximum of 3 hours I would say). No rain drops, just beautiful sunshine which made it perfect bathing weather. The magic of the river and seriously the whole Swedish landscape of Dalarna in general makes the place where the Skankaloss Festival (just referred to as Gagnef festival as it is located in Gagnef) an enchanted place. Sure, through my German eyes there might always be a touch of Bullerby-Syndrom that paints the Swedish landscape in even prettier colours but for real: it is gorgeous in that area!
As most of Gagnef’s party guests come from the big cities Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö they can all experience the beautiful way by train or car to the festival where you see nothing but woods, fields, sparkling rivers, flowers, some midsummer poles and wooden horses. It has a touch of a summer camp where all the city kids can hang out in nature for a weekend and just let go of the day-to-day business.
The festival areal is a place not too small and not too big – with a million things to discover. One of the main stages in built in front of the river so you see the water dancing and sparkling behind the bands while you can dance on the stairs of a wooden amphitheater. The other stages are a hidden cave that was covered in pink smoke the first time I found it and a arena that feels like the ring of a circus where all the wild ponies are getting ready to show their most beautiful steps. In various places at the water where people can jump in the water or in the fields and bushes sit DJs and produce various kinds of music. Different artists, such as Stine Marie Jacobsen (who we also interviewed for SlashMuse Magazine) or Martin Olsson and Linn Granlund participated with inspiring art work and you can find a sauna as well as great food such as Oysters or Jamaican Cuisine, which makes the Skankaloss Festival a complete little cosmos.
If you want to take a break from the different kinds of music, from which Ryley Walker, Tami Tamaki and Zhala were clearly our highlights, you can participate in the Tennis tournament “Gagnef Open”, watch the long board competition or the skaters at the half pipe on the festival areal.
All these aspects make Gagnef such a magical place – it’s the holistic world that is created. People with weak nerves and a giant hangover should better not go to the long board competition as it simply takes your breath away every time they speed around the corner, a shy person will perhaps not enjoy the sauna as much as I can guarantee you to make new friends there who will convince you to jump naked on the big wooden swing that catapults you into the fresh cold river – but hej it’s only once a year and maybe the whole point of a festival is not to be drunk and obnoxious but just to be courageous and free. Gagnef is a great place for that! Our favorite Swedish Festival.
John, Stockholm, 2012
graphic design / photo / film