- ▶ Chapter One - What is Fuse -
- ▶ Chapter Two - That’s it -
- ▶ Chapter Three - The world is waiting -
- ▶ Chapter Four - You have to do Fuse -
- ▶ Chapter Five - The people behind it -
- ▶ Chapter Six - Give it to me -
- ▶ Chapter Seven - There is no other bullshit about it -
The roots of Fuse are found in the unlikely provincial town of Kuurne. It’s here that Peter Decuypere had a successful run with his nightclub: ‘55’. Although these were great times to remember, this place proved to be too small for this man’s ambitions. Co-promoter Thierry Coppens, who organized the gay club night La Demence (read all about La Demence here), had a little more patience, but he too pulled the plug eventually, as it became clear this town did not match their vision. As he was looking for a new location for his events, Thierry’s mother pointed him towards ‘El Disco Rojo’, a Spanish discotheque that used to be a movie theatre, right in the heart of the Marolles neighborhood of Brussels. Soon enough, Coppens was throwing hugely popular weekly nights here. Looking to see what the fuss was about, Decuypere paid a visit to his old friend and immediately fell in love with the design of this charming club. Eager to divide the Saturday and Sunday nights between them, they went for it. Not much later, they bought the space, and on Saturday April 16, 1994, ‘Fuse’ was born.
Armed with an infectious enthusiasm and high hopes for the future, the duo quickly realized the city wasn’t keen on this new phenomenon of a ‘techno club’. For the first few months, barely any patrons visited Fuse, mostly because the sound of electronic dance music was still widely considered as something ‘weird’ and ‘dangerous’. Business wasn’t good, as the team was hemorrhaging money on a monthly basis, leading to dire financial situations. “On a certain evening, we decided to pull the plug”, says Decuypere. “We realized we tried our best, but things couldn’t go on like this anymore”. That night, after that decision was made, the duo stumbled upon an unexpected sight: a filled dancefloor. Decuypere continues: “not that it was a complete turnaround, but the fact that we had a good amount of customers - many of which were female, by the way - gave us the little bit of hope we needed to follow through”. It was very close, but Fuse almost never survived its first year.
Things started to look better. As more artists got booked, word got around the DJ-industry. “People were talking about this exciting new club”, says Laurent Garnier. After Decuypere had spent months going back and forth to Paris in order to convince the French techno maestro to play his club, the growing reputation turned out to be the decisive argument. Garnier finally caved and came over, but so did names like Richie Hawtin, Derrick May, Carl Cox, Aphex Twin, The Orb and Sven Väth. “Everyone wanted to play here”, adds Dave Clarke. Even though booking major techno acts took a lot of hustle, these lineups marked a new beginning for Fuse. However, international artists weren’t the only ingredient that made these lineups special. Local selectors like Trish Van Eynde, Pierre and Deg proved to be excellent residents DJs.
Finally, both business and reputation were going up.
In the early years, Fuse already had its two floors: upstairs for house music and downstairs for techno. “Many people would go up because they preferred the familiar sounding house beats over the pounding techno beats”, explains Pierre. “At a certain point, we decided to close the upper floor, so we could concentrate on the main room and techno music”. And it worked! Soon enough, the club became a true refuge for a diverse and ever-growing group of ravers. (head over to this link for Pierre's list of 25 of the most iconic Fuse tracks)
At a certain point, there wasn’t much room left to grow. Coppens continues: “Peter was somebody that didn’t want to continue a project once there was no challenge left – as was the case in the ‘55’ - or later with ‘I Love Techno’”. “Nobody dared to contradict me”, says Decuypere, “which was an unhealthy situation”. And so it became clear he wanted out.
Coppens enjoyed hosting his La Demence nights, but didn’t want to take over Decuypere’s responsibilities, so he started looking for someone that could do just that. “This place was an open community – a club where the bouncers wouldn’t give you any trouble if you didn’t give them enough tips”, says Olivier ‘Nick’ Ramoudt. “Fuse was ‘right’ on so many different levels, I felt the urge to get involved”. It turned out to be a perfect fit and Fuse found its new art director in 2003.
“There were nights where I had to throw up because I wasn’t sure it would work out”, Ramoudt remembers. “The stress of not knowing how many people would show up could be unbearable”. As the years went by, Coppens became tired of the responsibilities as the sole owner of Fuse. “Thierry offered me to buy the club – something he didn’t have to ask me twice”. As if the pressure on you as an art director wasn’t enough, Ramoudt leveled up as the new owner of Belgium’s premier techno haven.
“Fuse has become a constant success because it didn’t follow trends, something that’s very rare in this day and age”, explains Dave Clarke. “Many have an initial plan, but follow the big bucks as soon as the opportunity passes by. This club just followed its own heart and soul”. “Anyone that has worked here experienced goosebump-moments - and everyone always works hard to recreate those times”, says Decuypere.
“This club has done so much, for such a long time – and it continues to do so today. It’s crazy to realize how they have been able to maintain that standard. That’s why Fuse is ‘the’ techno temple in Belgium”, says DJ and producer Charlotte de Witte. “There is not a single big techno DJ in the world that doesn’t know Fuse”, adds Pure Trax founder Alex Klimow.
“Fuse is a free space that allows people to truly enjoy techno, without having to think about the way you behave, dress or dance. Everyone in here has the same unwritten purpose: enjoying the music. Without ever having to say what we want, our community is instinctively on exactly on the same level”, concludes Ramoudt. Having an institution like this that has lasted for over 20 years is something we, as Belgians, should be proud of. Happy birthday, Fuse!