Rooftops, towers & crazy crews – Dystop’s interviewed in CPH

Author sophos9 - Last updated: 28.10.2010

October is a kick arse month as we uncover more from the explorers and damn dudes, we have a treat for you. Away from care institutions we have an insight into roof topping in Copenhagen. This month, we have interviewed Dystop, one of the awesome CPH crew and he has somefine places to share with you…

Enjoy the interview and please drop Dystop a comment on his great work!

How are things in CPH today?

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First – thanks for your work with Talkurbex – you’re doing a great job.

Things are good, thanks. New stuff pops up all the time, you just gotta keep your eyes and ears open. I’ve had some great explores lately. Copenhagen has been through decades of urban development, so most of the really old industry stuff is gone, but we always find some new interesting stuff. Despite the economic recession there are still new buildings coming along or old ones, that need repair or are abandoned because the company relocates to save money. Also it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to explore Cph. The city is wide open and we hardly ever get into trouble, or even meet anyone.

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Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m in my 30’s, I live in central Cph with my family. I’ve been exploring on and off for years. And I’m nocturnal – I go out exploring at night, almost exclusively. Lately I’ve been going high – cranes and scaffolds, or trying to find ways up to the roofs. But I’m also into regular exploring – old buildings and mainly industrial stuff.

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As a kid I played in abandoned houses in the neighbourhood, and following the graffiti scene took me around to a lot of huge industrial facilities, back in the late 80s and early 90s when Copenhagen still had old school industrial buildings. At around 16 or 17 I popped my first mansion. Found out years later that people around the world was doing the same thing – and here we are. Now my focus is on the city, the buildings, how it looks from different angles and trying to find places that few people get to.

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What does your crew consist of?

I go by myself 8 times out of 10. But I always enjoy the company of people like Ja-Hatten, Lens Adventurer, Lusker, Zapped and anyone else up for some nocturnal activity. On a larger scale I consider myself a part of the danish urbex crew. We’re about 20 active explorers in the country that find all the good stuff. Really – I consider us the only active explorers in Denmark. If there are other explorers out there as active as us, they must be actual ninjas, because we don’t see them.

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How did your crew come together

Started out with a google map – turned to an invites-only forum. Everyone have different taste so we have the whole urbex thing covered from abandoned farmhouses, military stuff, abandoned industrial stuff and of course roof tops. And it’s always easy to find someone to hook up with, people meet on a regular basis and the whole crew meet for a summer barbecue and Christmas party – of course in abandoned surroundings. It’s a good crowd.

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What equipment do you use?

Canon 450D, Velbon Sherpa Pro carbon tripod, Velbon Mini tripod, Sigma 10-20, Samyang 8mm, Canon f/1.8 50mm, a small single AAA led light, LowePro Fastpack200 bag and recently a small LowePro holster that will just fit camera + one lens. No tools to get in. A beer to celebrate.

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I try to pack light, keep it simple, so the whole experience is as clean as simple as possible. I bring some old Fox mountainbike gloves, a bit of rope for securing bag or camera when it’s windy, slippery, steep or I need the hoist the bag down. And I always wear dark clothes but try not to look like some army guy. Keep it lo pro, so you can look like some guy that’s just lost or got impulsively curious

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You have some stunning rooftopping explores – what attracts you to rooftops?

Thanks man, glad you enjoy. I don’t just run to any roof I see. There has to be some special attraction – a good view, a historic place, big statues or a place I’ve been drawn to since I was a kid – looking for closure, he. As a kid I always wanted to be the one got the highest when we climbed trees – nothing’s changed. I love the sights, the quiet, and the rush you get – it’s like a personal challenge in my head when I see a spot during the day – “Oh there’s a scaffold now – are you up for it?” and then I have to prove myself at night.

I love the challenge – the physical and the mental. Looking for a way up, going and then seeing how far it will take me. I don’t always know where it gets me, but I know for sure I’ll be entertained. Also I’ve come to enjoy how I move, how I have to adjust my speed and movements according to the surroundings so that I don’t get busted. You have to move quietly, and you don’t wanna stay out in the open for too long and you don’t want people down in the street or inside the building to hear you. Get your ninja flow on.

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Also when you go at night, as I do, it’s easier to stay in the city instead of going far out of town. The lack of real old abandoned stuff also turned my head towards the obvious stuff, the thing just over your head. The buildings tell you a story, they’ll be here long after you’re gone, but you’re one of the few that conquered it.

I love the city, not Cph in particular, but the city as a concept. I step out my front door at 3 in the morning, and there’s life, people going out, going home, going to work. It’s a living organism. But funny enough, one of the things I enjoy when I sit in a crane or on a roof, is that it’s so calm and quiet – how I get that little square all by myself and there’s no-one around to disturb me. The city sleeps and I watch. It’s fascinating, kinda like when you stand in line at the supermarket and you start paying attention to the breathing of the person in front of you. You see it’s living organism and you start to create stories about that life in your head. I’m sorry, that sounded eh twisted… But the city is full of life and millions of stories – that just blows my mind.

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Whats the craziest thing you have done?

You’re only as crazy as you last explore, ha. I think urban explorers per definiton are crazy since they don’t obey the simple laws of society. I like that we explorers are a special breed – all over the world there are people that have that great open approach to their surroundings – people that don’t limit themselves to the boundaries set by “normal” society. Why succumb to those rules? Why not be curious and experience something new in everyday surroundings?

I don’t think I’ve done anything really crazy, but there are many memorable explores.

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Climbing into the belly of a massive bull fountain statue in the city hall square at 2 in the morning made me think: “This is just so nuts, what the hell am I doing? How many out there would go – “I bet I could fit in to that thing?”. That experience was really mindblowing because that statue is right in the middle of the biggest square in Cph, it has been there for hundreds of years and will be there for hundreds more – but only few will enter it.

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Off course 110 meter cranes are wild and super intense, but standing in a 20 foot container dressing up in old royal theater costumes with Lens Adventurer in the middle of an old legendary ship yard on a cold winter’s night, is just something extraordinary and we laughed our asses off.
That 8 km bike ride at full speed 40 meters under ground in those heating tunnels is definitely on the top of the list. One crazy night with Ja-hatten for sure!
Oh, yeah, once I dozed off in a crane 60 meters above ground, face down, while looking at the police trying to get me and Ja-hatten down. That was not a good idea but I was so damn tired.

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So many magic moments and that’s basically what we all search for in those empty houses and high above the city, right?

Whats your worst explore and why?

The one that got away. I’ve not had any bad ones, but I’ve gotten disappointed, when a spot wasn’t what I hoped for. And I’ve missed a few golden opportunities that won’t come again, at least for the next 50 years.

What sort of places do you have on your list to explore?
Big stuff, hope to see bigger cranes and bigger buildings here – luckily that’s the way the development on the city goes. Of course the new Metro is gonna be great – I keep repeating myself about that ,like and old man.

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Whats your recommendations for someone that wants to get into rooftop exploration?

Do it tonight, before it’s gone. Be quiet and don’t be stupid. Tread lightly, use both hands. Be curious, Think alternative. Look at Google maps. Empty you cards from you previous explores, so you don’t look like a pro, if somebody checks. Prepare a good story. Hitting cranes and tall buildings will make guards and police think you’re a terrorist, thief or leftwing activist – be aware of that. Dress warmer than you’d expect – cause it can get really cold and windy. Know your limits.

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And thats that, I hope you enjoyed the interview and big thanks to Dystop for sharing his views. You can check out more of Dystops amazing work on his flickr

sophos9

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