What about Danish social outings?

Posted: January 31, 2011 in Categorized
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Last Monday, I went to Sam’s Karaoke Bar with some of my international friends.  Sam’s Bar is a very fun place to hang out and actually has a variety of songs, spanning multiple genres of music and even different languages, like Danish (or course), Spanish, etc.  Well, as usual people pick songs that are favorable and that most people know.  So some of my friends and I started off the night with the Black Eyed Peas, “I Got a Feeling”, which is a great song to get people involved.  There weren’t many people in Sam’s Bar as we were there around 10:30ish.  Later, I decided to sing Elton John’s Circle of Life for my first song and it was okay but I swear I don’t remember that song being that long.

Well the night was generally low-key until about midnight, when a huge group of students, walked in, very loud and speaking what was so recognizable as AMERICAN ENGLISH.  Before long, the place was filled with North Face jackets, one guy had on an American Flag shirt, excessive amounts of shoutouts, saying “That’s my boy” or “dude” and “like” after every word…  I felt like I was in an American movie or something! Next, as I was with other Danes and international students, for some reason many of the American students did not assume I was from the states.  So I was usually approached throughout the night with questions like, “Do you like American music or American culture?”  Then when I hesitated to answer, one guy proceeded to try to speak Danish.  This was one of the first times, I’ve heard a non-native Danish speaker, speak Danish and this is not to make fun of the American guy but I can empathize with how the Danes must feel when they are used to hearing their language a certain way and then an outsider says something that to us isn’t a subtle linguistic and phonetic difference, but that makes all the difference in Danish!

As I flash back to studying abroad in Denmark, 3 years ago, I tried to put this into perspective.  I tried to understand how Americans might be perceived or how we might project our identity.  This was such an interesting experience for me, because I have actually only hung out with Danes since I’ve been in Denmark.  I noticed how the group dynamics were just structured quite differently.  When favorable songs were sung or played, I immediately noticed most of the Americans grinding on each other.  Interestingly enough, I know it exists in Denmark but I have not been to many Danish parties where all they do is grind on each other.  This isn’t to say that all Americans just grind on each other, but I noticed in my experience, that most Danes have tended to focus on dancing in a more reserved fashion.  Also, if it’s not in a “reserved” style of dancing, it’s dancing with not such a focus on “dirty-dancing” that can be found in most American parties (of course, it’s always depending on context). I guess you could say, most Danes dance with and not on each other as much as I’ve witnessed at some American parties.  Also, as soon as the American students walked into the bar they bought big bottles of Vodka or the more expensive alcohol, whereas, I’ve experienced Danes mostly drinking beer (which is cheaper) and maybe a cocktail here and there.

At the Danish parties that I’ve attended, the Danes actually focus on socializing.  We sometimes sit and chat about many topics, ranging from politics to pop culture.  I’ve had some of my best heart to hearts or intercultural learning experiences at bars or parties.  I remember having a discussion about if the Nordic healthcare systems are any better than the U.S. health system.  Yes, this was at a party and it was totally acceptable!  Everyone usually has so much to say and have been quite opinionated.  But this isn’t to say that we just sit around at Danish parties and talk, it’s definitely all about having fun because Danish parties are VERY long!  I know back at my college we’d usually start the party at maybe 10pm and end the party around maybe 1-3AM at the latest.  But in Denmark the parties that I’ve attended usually have begun approx 6-8PM with a hyggeligt (cosy) dinner.  Then, the real party starts after midnight, which means the parties can tend to end as late as 6AM, sometimes!

I hope this isn’t much of a surprise, but most Danish parties are filled with copious amounts of alcohol but even then most Danes drink responsibly.  I have not witnessed ONE person drinking so much that they’ve passed out or puked all over the place as most college parties have tended to be about (in my experience).  Well, the running joke is that since most Danes tend to start drinking around 14+, most are mature by the time they reach the university level, anyway.  🙂

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