Back in July, Ghent’s MODUL’AIR was the first to kick off an overdue festival season. This weekend, they are throwing two last parties.
It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to organize one of the first open-air events in the country after a 16-month nightlife drought. As a test event, MODUL’AIR’s first event, on July 25, was a perfect example of what was to come: an avalanche of party people who couldn’t wait to dance together again. Fast forward a few weeks and the Ghent-based event has thrown a dozen other open-air parties, culminating in this nearly sold-out closing weekend with heavy hitters like Folamour, Reinier Zonneveld and Young Marco. We checked in with promoters Gilles De Bruyne and Lars Fiers to see where the future of MODUL’AIR will take us.
How did you manage to host one of the first real parties on July 25?
“As early as January, we started to estimate what the summer of 2021 would look like. After a lost year we thought sitting on terraces with an audience in bubbles was not an option for us. That’s why we started making creative solutions that were realistic, yet cautiously positive. Finally, in April, we aimed to become an official test event. Together with the City of Ghent, we came up with a strong dossier, which was approved by the authorities. Our on-site testing especially was a watertight system that we invested a lot of money and effort in. As a result, we were able to throw a dance event faster than other promoters.”
The biggest challenge was, undoubtedly, the ever-evolving situation and perspective for the event industry.
What was the biggest challenge?
“The biggest challenge was, undoubtedly, the ever-evolving situation and perspective for the event industry. Between January and April, our file was thrown in the bin several times, because new information from the government suddenly made certain strategies, ideas or solutions irrelevant or outright impossible. Sometimes this inconsistency felt like a sledgehammer blow. That said, the corona commissioner's office that we came into contact with before our test event, worked with us constructively, and that has motivated us to go all out this summer.”
What was that feeling like when you saw all those people dancing together again for the first time?
“It was really surreal. When the first event finally took place, we had been working on the project for almost a year already. So it didn't immediately sink in how long people had been looking forward to this moment. The weather was not very good either, and the short notice of going online (we could only communicate 12 days before the event) made the whole preparation quite chaotic. Once we got back into the groove and people started to loosen up, it was truly one of the best memories of this summer.”
When the first event finally took place, we had been working on the project for almost a year already.
What are your plans after this summer?
“We are going to focus on the relaunch of ABSTRKT and Moonday, but next to that we are definitely going to focus on MODUL'AIR. 2022 has already been mapped out, and we have some pretty good ideas, so we are already looking forward to the future.”