It’s safe to say Antwerp’s nightlife hasn’t been this vibrant in many years. After recently waving goodbye to Klub Goud (twice!), seeing Magic transform into Kelly Palmer and witnessing creative space CONTRAIR pop up, a new, funky sister has docked. HAVN Dam - a church armed with a Funktion One Soundsystem, anyone? - is the latest brainchild of Vice City’s Tim Vandewalle and Arno Lemmens. We sat down in the confession booth to have a chat about the space and their very first celebration.
Hi Tim and Arno! HAVN Dam looks like an intriguing location. Can you tell us a little bit more about the history of the church?
"Absolutely. It's an old Norwegian Church that was built between 1863 and 1865. It was originally constructed to bring comfort to Norwegian seamen who suffered from homesickness. The priest would speak to them in their own language, find them a place to stay and provide them with Norwegian newspapers. We choose the name HAVN Dam because, in the early days, the only way to reach the church was by boat."
Where does your description and baseline “De schoonste madam van 't stad” stem from?
"Well, the “madam” was inspired by a myth about the first priest of the church, Sigvald Skavlan. “De Schoonste madam van’t stad” , then, literally translates as “the prettiest lady in town", simply referring to how elegant and stylish the building is. After all, it’s a piece of history which needs to be honoured intact and with respect, just like a lady or for many people, their music."
How did you manage to find the place?
"After our previous Vice City homebase Piaf closed it books last November, we couldn't seem to find an Antwerp spot that would be a perfect fit for our nights. After a few weeks of location hunting, Tim walked by the church and noticed people lugging chairs and tables outside. Without hesitation, he walked in, asked for the person in charge and had a serious chat. The rest is history."
Is HAVN Dam a temporary space?
"HAVN Dam is meant to stay, and it's definitely not a pop-up. 2017 will be a test year for us, no doubt, but if things work out well we’re here to stay for many more years to come."
What sort of events are you planning? What kind of music will we hear in the church?
"We’ll both focus on managing our own productions and working with external promotors that we believe in. At HAVN Dam we will provide Antwerp with house, funk, soul, afro, (old school) electro and deeper electronic explorations that fit the church. Apart from the music genre, the promotor’s ethics and the guest of honor are very important to us. We like to pride ourselves for doing this for the love of music and nothing else. This Saturday, we’ve invited one of our biggest heroes alive to headline the opening event. Sadar Bahar’s a Chicago native who has been an local underground legend since the ‘80s. He hosted the ‘Soul In The Hole’ parties, where he asked people to bring their favourite soul record. Sadar would play them in between records from his own collection. His music and his personal aura combined make him the perfect fit for our first party!
We also would like to add that we will have a strictly no camera policy at our events. All phones will be taped at the entrance and we hope that people will respect this choice. Too often we wonder why people are constantly on their phone and not realizing how much more beautiful it can be to fully live in the moment and enjoy the environment, people and music they are surrounded by to the fullest."
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Full event schedule coming soon, already announced: