It’s always good news when the opening of a new nightlife venue is announced. From Saturday September 23 onwards, Antwerp can count Bar Helder amongst its many nightlife options. Situated in the former recruitment building of the harbor with its huge windows that look upon the quays - right next to Club Vaag -, this spot has to be one of the most beautiful venues in town. However, this place will do things differently. In anticipation of the big night we sat down with Jochem Peeters and Mathijs Maes (aka Studio Brussel’s Konna) to make sure we didn’t miss any details on the new club. Let’s see what they had to say.
So tell us, what’s Bar Helder going to be like?
J: “Bar Helder” kind of flowed out of the ‘Helder’ parties Mathijs did last year. These ran really well and the name stuck with us. Other than that that’s where the connections stop. It’s one thing to do a party every now and then, it’s another to do three every week."
M: "This venue will be focusing more on the lighter side of music, compared to the heavy stuff that’s more and more prevalent in clubs around Belgium. We feel like this is what has been missing from the club scene lately. This place will stay relaxed – no frills."
J: "Exactly. Everything needs to stay accessible, without making compromises in quality. Only proper and trustworthy event partners and artists."
It’s “Bar” Helder, so will it be an actual bar as well?
J: "Yes, that’s the whole point, although we won’t be open every day. We open the doors early on Wednesdays and Fridays, so people can come and have a few drinks before the party starts instead of immediately entering a heavy club atmosphere. It’s also a very cost-effective way to go out because you’ll be able to get in for free before 11pm. On Saturdays we open late and skip the bar session, that day will be the fixed club night."
Any hints about how you have designed the venue?J: "People may know this place as the former Velvet Lounge. Although we’ll change things drastically. A new sound system, a slick interior, a different bar, a wider dancefloor – but the huge windows will stay, obviously. But no worries, they will be colour-shaded so not too much light will be able to get in."
You have mentioned you will work with external promoters. What’s the balance between nights of your own and guest parties going to be like?
M: "On Wednesdays we will host “Planeet Helder” with free entrance, aiming on a younger crowd that’s looking for a night out with quality music. Unfortunately, most nightlife options students have throughout the week are not very alternative. Every week we will ‘visit’ another place on this planet. So for example: when it’s a New York City night, the artists will mainly play NYC house and hip-hop. The first edition of this concept will shine a light on Tokyo."
J: "On the weekend days we’ll be doing our own club nights – or we’ll invite some quality concepts, like for example Soul Bones, The Love Below, Hitjes for Bitches, All Eyes On Hip Hop and a whole bunch more. And when it comes to bookings we want to put local artists and DJs in the spotlight, over big international bookings. Again, we want to keep things simple, open and accessible. We are happy to give a chance to young and local promoters."
Are there any other clubs you look to for inspiration?
J: "A club like De School in Amsterdam has been an inspiration to us. Not because of their music and lineups per se, but because they are able to offer so much more than just the club experience. (De School also runs a bar, restaurant and various non-nightlife events like art exhibitions, red). Musically we like a place like Disco Dolly, another hub in the Dutch capital."
M: "Yes, they have a zero-attitude approach and provide an eclectic mix of disco, house, afro and any other genre that fits their vibe. That’s something we want to do as well, although in our own way of course – we do our own thing."
J: "On a local level, we love everything Klub Goud and Bar Gloed stood for. Bert Vanlommel (the manager of said venues, ed.) helped us a lot during the preparations. Obviously some people will make a comparison, as our vision and locations have some similarities, but this won’t be a Klub Goud 2.0."
Tell us more about the opening weekend…
J: "We open on Saturday, September 23 with DTM Funk, Red D and our own Konna - a line-up that can bring exactly what we want to offer at this place: house, disco, funk, afro and more."
M: "And after that, DJs like Sixsixsixties, Soul Shakers, Waxist, Ape Drums, Red Greg, Mr Mendel, Faisal, Azer and Black Mamba will pass by our booth. So keep your eyes peeled for more!"
If you are interested in hosting a night at Bar Helder, feel free to send an email with your proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org
More info on the opening night? Head over to the Facebook event page.