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.
For this first episode, we travel to la Cité Ardente aka Liège, in the Eastern corners of the country – a city that caught the attention of the nightlife scene during the past few years with great initiatives like Festival Les Ardentes, Reflektor club – or Le Cadran. The latter, which has been running for 4 years now, has a regular appointment with our weekly Party Top 15, catching the eyes of many with its stellar line-ups. Those who visited usually return with great stories, so we felt like it was time to have a word with the people responsible for such spectacular nightlife moments.
Âme, KiNK, Floating Points, Kollektiv Turmstrasse, Magda, Recondite – those are just some of the names that honoured the DJ-booth at Le Cadran this season. Needless to say it gathered a stellar reputation as a club that takes itself seriously. Tatiana De Wind, who started working here since last summer says that’s all due to the hard work of Mathieu Fonsny, the artistic director (who also manages the bookings for Dour Festival and plays DJ sets under the name of Surfing Leons). “Le Cadran had a strong reputation since its inception. It’s thanks to smart bookings like Carl Cox, Nicolas Jaar, Mister Oizo and Green Velvet he managed to put Liège back on the map of the Belgian nightlife scene”.
So if it’s on the map, do people travel further and further to reach the club? “More and more people from outside the city, even Flanders, are visiting Le Cadran”, explains Fonsny. But the local crowds cannot be underestimated and that’s due to the recent resurgence of qualitative music initiatives. De Wind: “The cultural nightlife scene in Liège is extremely exciting for a small city. The limitless creativity of local talents and the good relations between the different venues is definitely a contributing factor”. When asked what sets the Liège crowd apart from the rest, enthusiasm seems to be the most important distinction. “In Brussels clubbers might make a move when they like the music, whereas here they totally express themselves. The crowd is always on fire, that's sick”.
When Le Cadran opened its doors on the iconic date 12/12/2012, just over four years ago, it was managed by the iconic house hero Maxime Firket aka Compuphonic. Fonsny took over in 2015. “I’m just continuing the job that Maxime started so fantastically well. He never went full commercial and always tried to “educate” the club goers. It’s definitely an interesting challenge for us now”. “Good management is clearly a key ingredient to make a nightclub work successfully while still maintaining credibility with the electronic music community”, adds De Wind. “Well, plus a good sound-system, friendly and capable staff and a communication strategy that puts the costumer first”.
With so many top shelf artists passing by, it’s interesting to hear which nights led to the best memories so far. “Seeing people go wild on the Recondite live set! Afterwards he told me it must have been one of the best crowds in his career so far. And the same goes for KiNK. So yes, the enthusiasm of the crowd is what makes this space so special” underlines De Wind.
So what’s next for Le Cadran? A whole lot apparently, explains De Wind. “We are working for several music festivals in Wallonia, not exclusively focused on music. We are diversifying our activities to become a multidisciplinary event-management company”. A development that will light the curiosity of many in the local music scene, no doubt.
With a decent portion of the world’s leading house and techno artists that already passed by the Liège venue, which 3 acts are still topping Fonsny’s wishlist? “Disclosure, Jamie xx and Laurent Garnier”. But upon asking if those names are in the pipeline for 2017 we only get a smile. “We’ll just keep going, we’ll continue to work hard and offer the best line-ups”. So not a single sneak peek into next year’s agenda? “Ok, Boris Brejcha is coming down in March”!
Rendez-vous à Liège soon, Le Cadran has our backs.