Documentary: Sexual assaults also at metal festivals

STRG_F editors visited the Wacken Open Air, the Summer Breeze and the Party.San - and discovered: the metal community is not just family.

Florian Dünser


12. Sep 2023

Dark Divas

Metal festivals are a “safe space” for women – and metalheads are one big family: the narrative of the metal community is clear. But is it true? A documentation now published by the research collective Strg_F at least scratches this self-image of the metal community. The Strg_F editors, who visited three German metal festivals this summer - Wacken Open Air, Summer Breeze and Party.San - clearly show that sexual assaults also happen at metal festivals. And all this in front of thousands of eyes in broad daylight – for example while crowd surfing.

Affected women report how they were violently groped in intimate areas while crowd surfing. Artists also talk about similar incidents. Burning Witches frontwoman Laura Guldemond says. “You see people grabbing tits and pussies. That just happens. Because some people are just assholes and think: I won't be found in the crowd anyway. I myself would never crowdsurf in a big crowd.” And Joacim Cans, singer of Hammerfall, reports: “There are a few guys who have their hands everywhere and that’s a no-go. They are taking advantage of the situation. When a girl is crowd surfing, her hands are touching places they shouldn’t be.”

Numbers show: Hardly any differences at mainstream festivals

The problem is not new. Accordingly, such incidents have been known to the festival organizers for years, as entries in the Wacken forum show - or as confirmed by the organizers. “Yes, there is sexual assault. You have that at every event. There are nice people everywhere – and there are assholes everywhere,” says Erik Oßwald from Party.San. And at Wacken Open Air? People there are surprised by the confrontation that sexual assaults also occur there. Accordingly, a total of 16 sexual crimes have been reported at Wacken since 2013, including one rape. In Summer Breeze there were also 16 reports in the same period, including 3 rapes. For comparison: at the Hurricane Festival 22 sexual offenses were reported, including 4 rapes, at the Highfield Festival 5 sexual offenses were reported, including 1 rape. No sexual offenses have been reported at Party.San in the past ten years. At all festivals, however, the number of unreported cases is likely to be considerably higher.

Every attack is one too many

What do these numbers say? Is that a lot or, in relation to the size of the events, “a little”? One thing is clear: every attack is one too many. And metal festivals are not inherently safe spaces for women. We are still convinced that the metal community is a peaceful and extremely colorful and empathetic community. But, as in every community, this does not apply to every individual. Or, as Oßwald from Party.San so aptly says: There are assholes everywhere. Is this the fault of the festival organizers? Of course not. But further measures will be needed to protect women from attacks at mainstream events.

Criticism of the structure of the documentary

The reactions in the metal community to Ctrl_F's post are very mixed. Many voices criticize the negative picture that is outlined - and supposedly puts the entire community in a false light. One of the most famous YouTubers from the metal scene, The Dark Parabolic Knight, also commented on this in a clip that we don't want to withhold from you:

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