Drive-In Concerts and Even Raves Are Becoming the Rage in Europe

If we are to remain social­ly dis­tant in the com­ing months of the pandemic—and near­ly every rep­utable health expert says we should—at least 21st cen­tu­ry tech­nol­o­gy has pre­pared us for life lived in iso­la­tion. If we insist on going out, we may see a 20th cen­tu­ry inno­va­tion become even more pop­u­lar. The dri­ve-in the­ater has returned as a safe venue for movies, con­certs, and even raves, at least in Den­mark, where the city of Aarhus recent­ly staged a dri­ve-in con­cert by singer-song­writer Mads Langer. “500 tick­ets sold out in min­utes,” reports Forbes. “The fol­low­ing day, the stage became a dri­ve-in cin­e­ma” show­ing Star Wars Episode IX. 

The first in a series, the dri­ve-in shows are part of a larg­er trend in Europe. Pro­mot­ers in Lithua­nia have launched sim­i­lar events out­side Vil­nius. And if you’re won­der­ing what a dri­ve-in rave looks like, won­der no more—Germany held the first of many a few days back.

Does it look like a pre­cur­sor to the world of Mad Max: Fury Road? As some com­menters have sug­gest­ed, enough events like these around the world might be just what we need to accel­er­ate deser­ti­fi­ca­tion. But it’s a fun idea, with unde­ni­ably nos­tal­gic built-in brand­ing.

Dri­ve-in the­aters are dis­tinct­ly tied to teenage romances of the 1950s and envi­ron­men­tal­ly mon­strous vehi­cles large enough for very com­fort­able dou­ble dates. Their ori­gins are less roman­tic than the stereo­type. “The first patent­ed dri­ve-in was opened on June 6, 1933 by Richard Holling­shead in New Jer­sey,” notes the New York Film Acad­e­my. “He cre­at­ed it as a solu­tion for peo­ple unable to com­fort­ably fit into small­er movie the­ater seats after cre­at­ing a mini dri­ve-in for his moth­er. Appeal­ing to fam­i­lies, Holling­shead adver­tised his dri­ve-in as a place where ‘The whole fam­i­ly is wel­come, regard­less of how noisy the chil­dren are.’”


It is unlike­ly many par­ents today would sit through a dri­ve-in show with noisy chil­dren, when every­one can stay home with their own pri­vate screen. But for Matt Langer fan Signe Nygaard, a par­ent and for­mer gym­nast, the dri­ve-in made a dream come true. The singer invit­ed her onstage. “A few years ago,” she says, “I was sup­posed to dance at a con­ven­tion where Mads Langer sang live, but I couldn’t because I was preg­nant. Now I final­ly got the chance.” There will be feel­go­od sto­ries in the pan­dem­ic, but I do hope they stayed six feet apart.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Live Per­form­ers Now Stream­ing Shows, from their Homes to Yours: Neil Young, Cold­play, Broad­way Stars, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Operas & More

Free: Austin City Lim­its Opens Up Video Archives Dur­ing COVID-19 Pan­dem­ic

Sooth­ing, Uplift­ing Resources for Par­ents & Care­givers Stressed by the COVID-19 Cri­sis

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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