‘Stand By Me’ Roskilde Festival 2019

This year, Roskilde’s theme is: solidarity, inspired by young people fighting for a better world for us to live in. We asked some women for stories about when another person’s solidarity meant the world to them, big or small.

Written by Lucy Coulson

Photos by Sonia Ziegler

There’s something special about the girls’ line for the bathroom. There’s a certain sense of  camaraderie; a we’re-all-in-this-together type of feeling that’s honestly quite moving. One of the best moments is waking up from a night out and finding the girl who was next to you in the queue for the toilet on your Instagram feed — those precious moments when strangers become allies, or sometimes even friends.

Often, though, this type of female solidarity moves beyond the alcohol-induced sharing of a comb, or picking toilet paper off a stranger’s shoe. Sometimes this solidarity means bigger things: like calling out a gross guy who briefly seemed to forget touching someone else’s ass is both immoral and illegal, or offering someone who’s alone to share your cab home. But sometimes it does simply mean creating a human shield so that drunk girl can pee in peaceful solitude. Whatever its form, solidarity among women is not only important, it’s critical.

Because after all, only women’s solidarity can end women’s suffering. And as the official theme for this year’s Roskilde Festival is solidarity, we thought it would be a good chance to discuss and celebrate all types of women’s solidarity — the little ones (like handing out a tampon to a stranger) and the bigger ones (supporting women’s pro-choice movements).

And what better place to find the most candid examples of women’s solidarity than Roskilde Festival. This contagious sense of unity can be found almost everywhere you look: the queues for the toilets, the women’s showers, the mosh pits and the on-the-go makeshift pee-stations — girls are standing up for girls. And it makes us damn proud.

We had a walk around the festival and asked a bunch of girls for their best solidarity stories. Here’s what they told us:

Thea, 21: “I recently talked to one of my friends about this theme and we talked about how often we experience being out at night and or alone and walking home – and it’s not even a big deal that you can just go over to some girls and ask if it’s okay if you just stand there for a second or whatever. It’s always fine. People are always welcoming and happy to help –  in a nice, not creepy way. Or even at this festival, you can feel so empowered by the female artists. Take Cardi B for example, she represents this female movement and yesterday during her performance, she was shouting ‘are there any powerful women in this crowd?!’. And all the girls were just screaming. All my girlfriends have no voice today because they were shouting so much. It’s so nice to feel part of that community.”

Clara, 20: “Yesterday I was walking alone and a man was like “hey sweetie” and tried to start a conversation with me. He wasn’t doing anything totally over the line, but I still felt a bit uncomfortable. Then my friend came past and just grabbed me by the arm and pulled me away. Friends do that; girls and boys. It’s not just girls standing up for girls it’s everyone standing up for everyone.”

Mie, 53: “Girls are good listeners. We had some deep talks last night. We were sitting in the middle of this big and loud festival having some really important and deep conversations. About love. And broken love. And broken bridges. And we helped each other that way. That’s something us females do well — you can, of course, also talk with a man but it’s different. Mental support is just as important as the rest.”

Caroline, 22: “At Roskilde a few years back I had a really shitty day so got drunk as fuck. As soon as we hit the festival area I needed to pee, and of course, I didn’t have any paper. All of a sudden, this girl came out of nowhere and asked if I needed some. She was an angel that came from the sky. For her to give that without me even asking… I was drunk so I got really emotional. It sounds stupid but that stuff means a lot. That was a bonding female moment for me.“

Marianne, 52  and Mette, 47: “We are good people. If anyone comes here who needs anything, they get it… if we have it. I think when people are at a festival like Roskilde they think ‘we’re here, we’re looking out for each other’. It’s a big family. We are here, we’ve all bought tickets, we all need each other to have a good experience.”

Mette: “But there will always be some bad people who mess it up for everyone else. Always. When we met people who are asses, we just go up to them and say “stop it, stop it right now”. When we are two or three girls who are saying that, people back off.”

Marianne: “Yesterday at the concert, there was a very big, very drunk man who came and burst through the tent, disrupting everyone repeatedly — until a guy stopped him and told him “enough is enough – go away”. He didn’t listen, so he took him and pushed him out. Everyone was cheering and thanking him. That was solidarity to me.”

Lea, 27: “I’ve had times where I’ve needed a tampon. Once, I just banged on the toilet wall and asked if anyone has a tampon, and then girls went as far as passing a tampon underneath the toilet stalls, two whole rows away. It’s so nice to be part of this ‘we’re all in this together’ vibe. You’ve gotta help each other out when you can.”

Jessica, 27: “It wasn’t at Roskilde, but back in Germany I went to a disco and it turns out someone spiked my drink. I was barely conscious but lucky for me, there was a feminist punk behind the bar who was looking out for me. He stood up for me and stopped the guys who were trying to hit on me. I couldn’t remember anything for 10 hours. He saved my life. It was a rock club, and in those clubs everyone cares for each other and everyone has your back. After that incident, they stuck posters on the toilets with a code word for women to report things like drink-spikings to the staff.”

Josefine, 29: “My friend was buying some food and getting harassed by a group of guys who kept asking for her number or if they could take her home. One guy was particularly bad and as she started to walk away from him, he grabbed her ass so aggressively. She was wearing a skirt. She was in too much shock to react but told me what he did. So when we walked past them again, I spat on him and his pizza. I might have also called him a pig. Us girls have to stand up for each other in those situations because a lot of the time, the person who has been harassed or attacked cannot react quickly enough. So whether it’s a friend or stranger, girl or boy, if you see someone experiencing something similar, it’s your duty to stick up for them and let the other person know it’s not okay. And of course make sure the victim is okay, too.”

Annette, 23: “The first day we arrived at the festival I was alone with the tent. As you can see [points at really big tent], it’s a really big tent. I was struggling a bit and a guy asked if I needed help — and came and helped me. I felt the Roskilde spirit there.”

So although we set out to hear about the solidarity as a result of girl power, we stumbled into something a little different: a kind of solidarity between everyone. The kind of team spirit that comes from everyone sharing the same goal. Girls helping girls. Girls helping boys. Boys helping girls. Boys helping boys. People helping people. Because in the end, women’s solidarity also requires support from our male allies — and vise versa. We’re all in this together. Which is more than evident at this one-of-a-kind festival.