Intimacy over grandeur: Antwerp’s Klub Dramatik Festival keeps it cozy


When the summer festivals get bigger and flashier, you can expect a counter movement that’s all about offering a genuine and personal experience. Enter Klub Dramatik, an laid-back event that returns to Antwerp’s Nachtegalenpark on Saturday June 15 for its third edition. There are 3 stages with a whole load of in-demand DJ’s that cover the full spectrum of house music (like Omar S, Funkineven, Young Marco and many more), but the capacity is kept low with the sole purpose of creating an intimate backyard party. With less than 2 weeks to go, we asked founders Jim Van Eupen and Matthieu Bosmans a couple of quick questions.

Did your team have experience with other events before this festival?

Yes, but only a little. One year before our first edition we hosted two parties at Magic in Antwerp. Those went well, but most of all we realized we really enjoyed decorating the event. That got us thinking “maybe we should host our own festival”. This allowed us to start with a clean sheet and carry out everything exactly in the way we envisioned it. Because of its budgetary limitations, we wouldn’t be able to do the same thing in a club.

Although this is only your third edition, could you tell us how Klub Dramatik has evolved since its inception?

I think we definitely grew musically. After our first edition we were quickly labelled as a ‘disco festival’, even though we booked only one act (Detroit Swindle) that really played a lot of it. That said, it was a killer set and we’re grateful they are partly responsible for putting our festival on the map. However, this made us realize we had to book more diverse line-ups. By building 3 stages, we’re able to showcase each little corner within the greater realm of house music now: Detroit techno, Italo disco, acid, breaks, New Beat, tropical and – yes – disco. Every stage really has its own identity based on the kind of energy the artists stand for. This approach of widening the selection has proven to be our roadmap for editions in the future. Adding extra stages and representing more styles is what we want to do.

If we would raise the capacity at each stage, we wouldn’t be able to offer what our festival is all about

In a country that already has a pretty saturated festival market, why did you decide to put up a new one of your own?

We don’t really see that as an obstacle. This is our passion, so there’s no other way than continuing what we started. In Antwerp, the open air and festival landscape isn’t as saturated as in other parts of the country, thus there is definitely margin for growth. Additionally, it feels like people are becoming less interested in the major festivals, in favour of smaller, cosier events. That plays in our advantage.

Is that what makes your festival stand out from the pack?

That very same cosiness and friendly atmosphere. We don’t make bombastic constructions and we never will. We always design and build our stages and dancefloors ourselves in a way that it almost feels like you’re walking in a colourful backyard on the countryside. This makes the artists approachable. Dancing with maximum amount of 1000 people to the sound of guys like Omar S, Antal or Optimo from only a short distance is a unique experience. If we would raise the capacity at each stage, we wouldn’t be able to offer what our festival is all about. In the future, would will only grow horizontally, not in size.

What are the biggest hurdles and frustrations that you need to overcome when organizing a festival like this?

Trying to make clear to everyone that the production costs of an event like this are no laughing matter (laughs).

What were the most satisfying moments on last year’s edition?

If we can make our visitors happy for 12 hours and the artists feel comfortable and play killer sets, we’ve achieved our goal. That’s what we do it for.

Lastly, which names on the lineup are you happiest with?

That’s a question we’re not able to answer. It’s always the intention to create an overall picture that makes perfect sense. The challenging part is to book the perfect build-up on the balanced lineup, not just booking a big name. In that sense, everyone in the team has a big responsibility, although we’re confident this edition will be one to remember once again.

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