It’s a rainy day. Overcast and cold, too. As a result, there are few people out and about, but somehow that doesn’t damper the lively energy of Nørrebro. As I daintily navigate the pools of water that have accumulated on the sidewalk, I catch a whiff of sautéed garlic that is rapidly overpowered by vehicle exhaust. I pass a shawarma restaurant, then a pizza joint, then a sushi place. Bright graffiti catches my eye, made more vivid by the drizzling rain that soaks it. I gaze into storefronts showcasing eclectic clothing styles that I wish I could browse if only I could enter. Perhaps the most interactive part of my exploration is the playground I encounter. Unlike any I’ve seen at home, its aesthetic is accentuated by graffiti-style spray paint. Easily diverted by the colorful playscape, I inspect the artwork and climb the wooden planks. The installation is playful and eccentric––perhaps best encapsulating these known qualities of Nørrebro.
Another feature of the trendy spirit of Nørrebro is conveyed by the storefront of a stylish t-shirt shop, the walls covered in cartoonish figures in an appealing color scheme. Passing by, I pause to stop and examine the outside of the store. I peer in at the t-shirts displayed in the window and realize the colorful graphics on the wall served their purpose well: they caught my attention and drew me in. Except now, ironically, the pandemic prohibits me from going inside.
I loved strolling through the Assistens Cemetery a week ago. I imagine that many of the walkers and runners I saw there are among the same demographic inhabiting the Nørrebro district that I’m touring. I’m fond of how the people here use the cemetery as a gathering place where life is celebrated in the same place that death is mourned, and I equally appreciate their presence and influence in this vibrant neighborhood. I glance at the people who pass me, and while many are indistinguishable from the civilians I’ve seen in central Copenhagen, I notice several individuals who look like myself. Known for its multiculturalism, diversity, left-leaning politics, and acceptance of immigrants, I immediately take a liking to the area and those living in it.
I’m listening to a podcast about Nørrebro as I walk, hearing stories about the neighborhood while I take it in myself. The podcast tells me about the many bikes and cars that traverse The Queen Louise Bridge, a landmark I coincidentally find myself at as the narrator mentions it. As if on cue a group of bikers whizzes by, wheels a blur. I strain to hear the podcast over the humming motors of cars and the gentle chatter that comes in waves as couples brush up against me on the street. A speaker in the podcast criticizes Nørrebro for becoming more tame, more gentrified, more mainstream. And while I take to heart their conviction, it doesn’t curb my enthusiasm as I scope out the area, promising myself that I will soon return.