21: Variations of Limbo
Toxic workplaces, thwarted visas, and other unresolved things
I’ve been thinking a lot about limbo. In Catholic theology, limbo is kind of a place– a borderland between heaven and hell where babies who died before they could be baptized but are otherwise innocent hang out until the Second Coming. For the rest of us, limbo is less a place than a state of being: a period or feeling of uncertainty when there is no resolution in sight. Two years into the pandemic, as some restrictions are lifted, some remain in place, and nobody seems to have a clear sense of whether things are getting better or worse, it’s a state a lot of us are familiar with. But it seems to me that it’s also a state that describes specific things currently happening within Copenhagen’s restaurant industry.
This week, Lisa Lind Dunbar began publishing stories on her Instagram of sexual harassment, groping, unwanted attention, sexist jokes, gender discrimination, poor work conditions and uncompensated or unfairly compensated labor in Copenhagen’s restaurant, bar, and wine worlds. In most cases the names of both the accusers and the accused are omitted, but in at least some, enough details are included to make identities clear to insiders. Dunbar declined my request for an interview, so I can’t shed any light on what she hopes the outcome will be. But from conversations I’ve had with others, it’s become clear that a lot of people are thinking about whether there will be one. It almost feels like the city’s entire hospitality industry is holding its collective breath, as those who have told their stories wonder if anything will happen as a result; those who may have been guilty of bad behavior wonder if they will be exposed for it; and everyone wonders if there’s another shoe about to drop.