With Club Focus, we guide the spotlights on to some of the nation’s most interesting dancefloors. Whether they focus on house, techno, hip-hop or all of them – a good nightclub is rated not on genres, but on the quality of the clubbing experience it offers the regulars as well as the first timers. A meticulously placed soundsystem, a consistently strong programming and thoughtful interior design are just a few of the things that help to bring in crowds every weekend, building not only a dedicated clientele, but a solid reputation as well.
If you’re a loyal Red Bull Elektropedia enthousiast, you have surely seen many posts about Labyrinth Club while scrolling through your newsfeed. We’re gonna be honest; with massive house and techno lineups every weekend it’s hard not to be seduced by them. But this club has more to offer: a top shelf soundsystem, a loyal crowd, an open air location during summer and – for the first time this summer - a brand new festival in Croatia: Labyrinth Open. Since their move from Antwerp to Hasselt, we can’t help but feel this place has become the best version of itself. So, allow us to present you this special interview with one of the very best clubs this country has to offer. We’ll let Labyrinth associates David Gorez and Sam Deliaert do the talking…
Hi guys! You probably had to answer this question many times already, but why did you move from Antwerp to Hasselt?
"Back in Antwerp, the venue was located in an older part of town with mostly empty warehouses. The neighbourhood was part of a big urbanisation project which brought in a lot of new people. They took residence in many of these renovated warehouses and then complaints about noise disturbance started rolling in, which were then issued to the local authorities. Labyrinth Club had to turn the volume down, and therefore could no longer provide a perfect sound experience to its visitors. It became clear the club was in need of a new location."
It seems to us that you are actually way more at ease in Hasselt. What has changed in comparison to the old venue?
"We definitely made a good move going to Hasselt, yes. There was no dedicated techno club in the area before so the local people took us in with open arms. What’s different about the new venue is that we don’t actually have any neighbours anymore, so there’s no more stress about noise or disturbances. This results in a very comfortable and ‘feel-at-home’ atmosphere with mind-blowing vibes on the dancefloor."
How is the crowd in Hasselt? Are most of your patrons from this region? Or do you get many fans from elsewhere in the country?
"The crowd in Hasselt is really amazing and supports us enthusiastically, week after week. Most of our visitors come from the province of Limburg, but we do see quite some people from everywhere in Belgium. Even from France or the Netherlands when we have bigger names lined up."
What do you think of the club scene in Limburg (and Belgium) at the moment?
"It’s very much alive and kicking. People are down to party all night and they have the right attitude while doing it. We’re blessed to be a part of it!"
Which ingredients are absolutely essential for a nightclub in this age, according to you?
"Good music on a powerful sound system and a great crowd are the main ingredients, but there’s much more you need to take into account. It’s not hard to have a great night, but if you want to keep your audience interested, it’s more complex. We aim to create an overall experience and having a great crew helps to achieve this. It’s the people that make the club."
How is the resident situation? You seem to be giving playing opportunities to a lot of the local talent – more than other clubs.
"We’re blessed to have quite a few residents from our own agency that we can rely on. They each have their own sound so we always have proper support acts to choose from. However, we think it’s also important to give local talent a chance to play in a proper club setting. We are happy to offer them this platform, as most of our own acts started the same way."
In July the whole family is moving to Croatia for Labyrinth Open. A welcome vacation or hellish workweek in disguise?
"We can’t help but think of the white sandy beaches and the sunny weather, even if it involves a lot of work, we will manage. We’re sure there will be plenty of opportunities to decompress!"
What are you looking forward to the most in Croatia?
"We hope to surpass our own expectations and it’s already starting to look like that, to be honest. Our main priority was to get the attention of our Belgian fanbase and getting them to come down for an epic extended weekend with the best house and techno has to offer. But now it seems we’ve caught the interest of the local people in and around Croatia as well. We’ve received dozens of questions, requests and proposals. It actually feels like the Hasselt homecoming all over again!"
What have been your most cherished moments at the club (back in Belgium) so far?
"It’s hard to name a few. We had a lot of very successful nights, but these spontaneously come to mind: the sold out opening night with Maya Jane Coles, when Richie Hawtin dropped by for his PLAYdifferently showcase… This party sold out in 2 hours, something we had never experienced before. Furthermore, the Extrema Outdoor after parties were pretty memorable, with an incredible amount of headliners all playing on one night. Extrema Noir (held at Labyrinth Club, red.) was an impressive change of gears too – it was the first time we hosted two rooms! Additionally, the Stephan Bodzin live performance was one for the books - and let’s not forget the all-nighter by Amelie Lens playing for a packed club, with a line of 200 unfortunate people outside."
The Labyrinth brand is expanding. You’re also managing its own booking office. Do you feel like a club is obliged to try to offer more than just club nights?
"It’s all about differentiating the brand and exporting it all over Belgium and beyond our borders. Our position on the market is getting stronger and that gives us a greater impact, which in return is better for the club as that makes it a little easier to book the artists you want. But this realization only came to mind in retrospect – everything happened very naturally, without a plan. We just felt like we could use more organisation while repeatedly working with the same artists."
What are you guys working on at this very moment?
"We are focussing on Labyrinth Open for now, the first names are out but we’re already moving fast to release the second phase. Other than that we’re working hard to maintain quality nights at our club. For the moment that’s enough. Before we take on new projects we might need to look for more people first!"
*Header by Nachtschaduw