<p>(by Tony Webster CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)</p>
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From a military compound to a symbol of autonomy, culture and community. Discover the highlights of Freetown Christiania

Bøssehuset and They Grey Hall
(by Hunter Desportes CC BY 2.0, Flickr)

(by Hunter Desportes CC BY 2.0, Flickr)

The centre part of Christiania unites a wide range of artistic experiences. Following the streets filled with numerous cafés, bars and breweries, one will also find a skateboarding track, flea markets and extraordinary event locations, such as the Christiania Jazz Club. It never gets boring in Christiania since it regularly offers concerts, theatre shows and artists who present their unique work. One particular example of the cultural scene of the commune is Bøssehuset, an autonomous institution in Christiania, which has been the centre of the gay movement since the 70s. In the early 2000s, the organisation of Bøssehuset was transferred to “Dunst”, a collective of homosexual performers, to keep the spirit of the gay movement alive and to secure a democratic administration of the house. Before that, Bøssehuset was a gay theatre, but it was barely used for several years. It functioned mainly as a rehearsal place for gay choirs and Square-Dance groups.

“Dunst” was established by a group of people who wanted to create an alternative to the “Queer scene of Copenhagen” since it was monotonous in their eyes. It was meant to be a sexual-political community for people with diverse sexualities, for loners, punks and everyone who feels uncomfortable in the mainstream. They held open workshops for all kinds of art and music, as well as lots of cabaret shows, parties and events to contribute to the preservation of Christiania. After a few months, however, the group had to leave Bøssehuset because of complaints in the community criticising the noise of the “Dunst parties”. But today, Bøssehuset is still a platform for parties, theatre and variety shows and represents a movement of liberation and tolerance.

Right behind Bøssehuset stands The Grey Hall (“Den Grå Hal”), one of the buildings under monumental protection. Furthermore, these are the Green Hall (“Den Grønne Hal”), the red barrack “Mælkebøtten”, the house of the commander and the old gunpowder store. The Grey Hall – the largest hall in Christiania – was initially built as a riding stable in 1891 but is now used as an event location. Since the commune’s founding in the 70s, it has been Christiania’s heart of art and music and has hosted guests like Bob Dylan and Metallica. Apart from that, The Grey Hall accommodates an annual Christmas market and a celebration for the community on Christmas Eve.

Christiania brought forth a theatre group called “Solvognen” (The Sun Chariot), which played many shows in The Grey Hall and became famous in the 70s and early 80s. One of their famous plays in the heart of Christiania was the production of a huge fake NATO legion with hundreds of participants in 1973. This was connected to the conference of the NATO Council of Ministers in Copenhagen in the same year. The participants were dressed in uniforms and displayed regular military drills, showing the discipline of a soldier. During this event, people struggled to understand if they were real soldiers or if it was a show. It even led to a misunderstanding between the civilian police and actual military police officers when both groups expected the other to be a part of the play. In 1974, “Solvognen” arranged another fictional army of adults and children alike, but instead of military uniforms, they were all dressed as Santa Claus. The army marched through Copenhagen, creating a large parade. Equipped with a giant goose as an equivalent of the Trojan horse, they visited hospitals, schools and public places, spreading happiness and joy. 

But their actions became increasingly disruptive as they invaded the labour court, stock exchange and one of Copenhagen’s big malls. The police tried to stop the process by arresting some participants who stuck to their roles and let the play run its course.

“Solvognen” was only one of many driving forces in Christiania that spread awareness of societal shortcomings. Places like Bøssehuset and The Grey Hall provide a stage and a sanctuary for all those who are fighting for a sense of belonging.


1. The barracks of Bådsmandsstræde

2. Pusher Street

3. Bøssehuset and They Grey Hall

4. Dyssebroen - Along the waterside