Set in a gorgeous little container-village alongside the Scheldt river, just across Bar Helder and Club Vaag, two well-known names in the Belgian nightlife scene have founded an interesting new initiative. ‘Flat A’ is a small multipurpose venue that houses all the necessary professional equipment and services for a proper livestream (think: multiple camera’s, a streaming station, an extensive DJ booth, a well-equipped bar, etc.) that has recently been founded by Vincent Buss (aka veteran DJ Prinz) and Khalid Naciri (aka KHLR from dance music station Radio FG). “It kind of looks like a loft apartment, no? Hence the name!” says Buss with a smile when he welcomes us in for a little peek. We have to admit; it did tick all the boxes as a cosy boutique club that would make a perfect scene for a proper pre- or after-party. Curious to hear more about the exact purpose and possibilities of this new place, we arranged a little meet-up right with one of the bossmen - just minutes before what turned out to be a packed event - to let him explain what this place is all about.
Tell us, what is Flat A exactly?
"Well, we offer a fun alternative way for event promoters to showcase their events by providing a space that can host quality live streams and small private events. Additionally, we also have a set formula per hour for DJs that wish to host a professional livestream for promotional purposes."
How did you end up here?
"Khalid already had permission to use a container in this place already, but at that point, nothing substantially had been done there. I proposed him to work on a new project here together; and so ‘Tibaa On Air’ was born. Every Thursday during the winter months, we would host a livestream, followed by a cosy party for a few hours. This was going well, so the owners presented us another space right next door, one with 3 containers and a large terrace. Thus we started ‘Flat A’, which is a lot bigger – and we are able to offer a wider variety of indoor and outdoor options."
So anyone can give an event here? What kind of events are we talking about? Or who is your target audience?
"Flat A can be anything: a streaming studio, or a place to showcase a live or DJ-set for a limited audience – all the necessary professional gear and services are available here. Like I said, it can be the place for any DJ that wants to host a stream, but it can also be the location for a party promoter who wants to highlight an event later that night by organizing an exclusive pre-party here. A win-win situation for everybody: the event hosts are offered a cool way of promoting their event, fans can witness an exclusive, intimate DJ-set on the spot, or watch a livestream from their laptop screens in anticipation of the big event. On top of that, the night club is sure to have an initial load of customers as soon as they open the doors, because the crowd here will be looking to continue the festivities when we stop around 11PM. Or, you can just organize a small private event here too, with or without the livestream – which can be especially interesting for record labels or artist agencies looking for a way to showcase their roster. Everything is possible, really. We have a limited capacity, but that’s our actually our strength."
Both of you have an extensive track record in the Antwerp nightlife scene. Did you feel like the time had come to switch things up with a new project like this?
"Yeah, more or less. I’ve been DJ-ing for over 22 years already, and I’m currently working in the ticketing business. By staying active in these circles, you have a clear sense for what works and what doesn’t. Over the last months we have been noticing a rise in demand for these kind of professional livestreaming locations, especially with the added possibility to host small events in the same place. That said, I would never invest my blood, sweat and tears in a project if I know it doesn’t have any potential. I’m confident in this place and its possibilities."
Looking around, this whole place looks really cool to be honest: a whole bunch of containers right next to the Scheldt river. Who are your neighbours in the other containers?
"All containers are occupied as pop-up locations for young start-ups and artists. It’s kind of a creative village: there’s a hairdresser, a tattoo shop, a mini gym, a music studio and there’s a collective of graffiti artists right next door. You may also be familiar with Jardim, an open air summer bar with great views which is managed by the same guys as Bar Helder and Club Vaag, which are both located just across the street. It’s just great to be surrounded by such a diversity of different creative initiatives."
All in all, Flat A sounds like a great initiative, but don’t you think there’s an overflow of online radio stations in Belgium since this year?
"It’s true, we have seen the inception of a handful of new internet radio stations in this country, but we want to differentiate ourselves by offering something extra: a professional and attractive location for small events to go along with it. The “event” is always central in our activities, and we don’t have a daily radio roster. In that sense, we are more of a Boiler Room type of initiative and not a traditional radio station. I mean, it can be a radio station if you want it to, but doesn’t need to be one. It can be a lot more than that."
Flat A is located at the container village at Rijnkaai, Antwerp. Visit the website for more information about renting this place for your event.