I finally come to the spontaneous realization that my stroll has been transmuted into something entirely different and less easy to explain. Together with a bunch of Koreans, Freddy and I are walking back down Langgade Street, through Pusher Street to The Jazz Club where Freddy gets us in at a handsome group rate. I pay for Zo as he had already bought my novel. Something for something. He is going to take me and the fruit of my spirit along with him back to his buddhist world and in exchange I take him and his little pipe with me into The Jazz Club.
At the far end of the club there are free chairs. I happen to sit next to a couple of Portuguese women in their late twenties. The orchestra is already blasting. We get fresh supplies of beers and Havanas. The women are curious and want to know all sorts of things; not just who we are but also about Christiania. It seems they never heard about the place before. They were sauntering around the City and passersby told them not to miss Christiania. And here they are listening to jazz. I did not feel like giving them the full lowdown on the history of squatter town Christiania. I have shared these details once too often. But I gave them just a little bit to appease their – it seemed – insatiable curiosity about “the phenomenon.” They had never never, they said, imagined that such a place existed in Europe.
“Nope, but hey, look around. What you see and hear is real. It’s happening. Listen to that sax step-dancing and sniffing rhythmically up and down, around and about entering into cracks in our skulls and stopping up our mouths…” I said this hoping the Portuguese girls would let me listen for just a minute: “Hear that hammond organ heaving its great old sighs and being pummeled by the drums.” Freddy is feeding the Koreans more Havanas and I am falling deeper and deeper into a groove that reminds me of long ago. I am swigging the Christiania beers.
One Portuguese woman is in the loo and the other studies my face. Or at least this is the feeling I get. I close my eyes and muse. This is exactly how it used to be and what used to happen, back when I lived here. Something in the close-knit community dynamic of Christiania stimulates the instinct for spontaneity which is the charm and joy of life. You decide to take a half-hour stroll before bedtime, run into a familiar face in front of The Moonfisher bar, go for one beer in The Flee Music Hall, meet a couple of girlfriends out on the town and return home three days later unshaven, hungry, and with dog shit under your shoes. Above all, this week of housesitting is magnificent because it is breaking up my everyday routine and paving the way for new adventures. Here are the two Portuguese women together again. They, for their part, obviously count themselves lucky that they have come across The Jazz Club and met a bunch of Koreans and locals like us. If I wanted to I might just charm myself into the graces of one of them. Who knows? Even if I am not the young wagon-hippie that I used to be. As it is right now I have never known better days. The way they rant and rave about how “crazy” and “great” Christiania is, and the way they seem to associate me with the place. Well, hell. I just might stand a chance. And… if on top of everything else I let on that I am housesitting a shack with kittens. Whew! If I do that, there is no saying where it would end. But do I want to? No, I say to myself, keep the kittens to yourself. You have already had your change of routine. You don’t really need anymore. Tomorrow is another day and if you don't know what to do with it, I do.
Copyright Per Smidl.
Per Smidl is the author of the forthcoming novel Wagon 537 Christiania.