La Demence and Fuse: a love story that has been going for over 20 years.

Pictures by Courtesy of La Demence (archives)

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In anticipation of our documentary celebrating Brussels' nightlife institution Fuse, we interviewed Thierry Coppens. Despite his relative obscurity outside the gay nightlife community, this man shares responsibility with Peter Decuypere for the birth of Fuse, and he sells out more parties a year than any other promoter does. To this day, his La Demence event takes place in Fuse every month (with the occasional field trip to other venues like Palais 12), making it – by far – one of the most important gay parties in our country. Time to let everyone know who Thierry Coppens is and what makes these events so appealing.

La Demence has existed even longer than Fuse, so that means you have been throwing parties for more than 23 years already! We don’t know any nightlife event that has been running that long… How do you keep it interesting for yourself?

"My passion has always been to deliver pleasure and fun. As long as the audience keeps telling me that they had a great time, I will stay motivated."

Can you give us a brief history of La Demence?

"It started 28 years ago in the region of Courtrai as a weekly party on Sundays. Two years later, the party moved to Brussels, and it became a monthly party. The rest is history."

Recently, you had a birthday party that lasted for a whopping five consecutive days - one of which was held in Palais 12! How did that go?

"Since about five years, we organize big parties outside of Fuse club as well. For example, we head over to Palais 12 twice a year. Last time, we had over 8000 visitors, from 78 different countries! A good 75% of them came from abroad and stayed for several days, so they wanted to experience the ‘original’ party at Fuse as well. Since we can't fit all of them in the club, we decided to open the venue for 4 nights straight - and yes, they were all packed."

The histories of Fuse and Le Demence are completely intertwined. What's so special about this club?

"Before the venue became Fuse, it was a Latino club called ‘El Disco Rojo’. I had been renting it for some months to organise La Demence, until one day me and Peter Decuypere decided to buy the club and created Fuse together. After some years, Peter left the organization and concentrated on ‘I Love Techno’. I continued on my own until about 10 years ago, when I transmitted Fuse to the current management. That didn’t mean I was going to stop doing La Demence parties though, this has been and always will be my core business."

What’s unique about La Demence compared to other LGBTQ parties?

"Other gay parties tend to attract only a certain part of the community. At La Demence, this community is represented in all its variety. Expect to see all ages and all nationalities. This unique mix creates a real family feeling, without any attitude. The open-mindedness at our events has become our trademark, the very reason of our success, since everyone feels very comfortable."

Which music usually gets played? And which DJs are booked?

"With several rooms and extended opening times, we have slots for at least 10 DJs per night, which allows us to schedule different music genres per level, as well as a solid evolution throughout the night."

From what we picked up in an old interview: did you really pick the name ‘La Demence’ because you opened a French dictionary and you liked the word?

"(laughs) Absolutely! I was going through a dictionary and thought that this word perfectly reflects our party!"

Each summer you organize a cruise in the Mediterranean. Is that a holiday or work for you? Or a bit of both?

"‘THE CRUISE powered by LA DEMENCE’ has been sailing away every year since 2011. It’s a mix of actual traveling - like excursions in the ports, day activities around the pool and, of course, amazing parties. With activities happening 24/7, I wouldn’t call it a holiday for me – and the preparation takes me about 6 months. Let’s say that I split my time fifty-fifty between La Demence and The Cruise."

Were there moments where you felt close to giving up?

"Oh yes, the beginning in Brussels was very hard for both La Demence and Fuse. We were on the verge of bankruptcy many times… But we prevailed!"

Interested in experiencing it for yourself? Head over to www.lademence.com and follow the La Demence Facebook page for updates.

'Red Bull Elektropedia presents Fuse: The History Of Belgium's Premier Techno Club' will be available online February 1.