TheCommon: Antwerp’s new home for techno fans

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After an unfortunate opening weekend right before the pandemic, the new nightclub is eager to shake off the bad vibes with a season filled with quality techno.

Opening your brand nightclub right before the start of a 20-month mandatory lockdown is total nightmare material for event promoters. Luckily, Robin de Beukelaar and Thomas Hellemans’ enthusiasm can take a hit. Housed in the IKON event space, TheCommon is a brand new nightclub dedicated to proper techno. In anticipation of the real opening weekend (the last one didn’t count) on October 1, we spoke to the promoter duo about the false start, nightlife in the Diamond City and the aspirations of a brand new nightclub – something you don’t often hear about these days.

Let’s start with a recap. What exactly is TheCommon, and what is its relation to IKON?

“TheCommon is a new nightclub in the IKON building. We converted the old 'salle noire' into a raw techno room twice a month since IKON has become an event space rather than a traditional nightclub. The room already had a Funktion One sound system and a dancefloor shaped like a big round pit. It’s the perfect place for a night of proper techno.”

You opened your doors in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 crisis. How did that feel? And how have you dealt with that setback in the meantime?

“I know the crisis hit the whole scene pretty hard, but it couldn't have come at a worse time for us. We had just spent a few months preparing everything and were finally ready to roll. In the end, we were glad to have hosted at least two very successful events, which is a good sign for the future. Hopefully, we can have a similar start on the weekend of October 1!"

We have a Funktion One sound system and a dancefloor shaped like a big round pit: the perfect place for a night of proper techno.

How did you manage financially during this whole time?

“As far as bookings go, we're fortunate to be able to rebook most of our confirmed artists for the new season without too many problems. As a result, the line-up looks even better than before, if I can say so myself. Furthermore, IKON has been a solid and successful club for years, so we could lean on them for a large part. Fortunately, both Thomas and I have a regular day job, which was a lifesaver.”

How do you want to distinguish TheCommon from the rest of the nightlife in Antwerp and beyond? Which audience do you want to appeal to?

“Initially, we wanted to fill up a hole in the local nightlife scene. Year by year, we’ve witnessed nightclubs attract fewer and fewer crowds. Despite other great clubs with their strengths, there was still a void for us. Antwerp has many strong event concepts without a fixed location, but we wanted to offer a fixed location where techno fans from the area could feel at home. With the line-up we have planned, we secretly hope people from much further will come to pay a visit too. We’re only a stone's throw away from The Netherlands, so we expect some customers from there too.”

Antwerp has many strong event concepts without a fixed location, but we wanted to offer a fixed location where techno fans from the area could feel at home.

What’s the meaning behind your name, TheCommon?

“The common area used to be a place where everyone in the neighbourhood could gather to celebrate together. That's how we like to see our club, where everyone of all backgrounds, sex, orientation or religion is welcome to come together and share a good time. We are proud to actively create and maintain a safe space in Antwerp’s nightlife, which will be reflected in our line-up. It’s a shame we have to mention that we are a safe space explicitly. Everyone should be able to feel at home at any techno event. After all, this is what the whole scene is about.”

You are working hard on the reopening and have to focus on October. What can we expect?

“We are ready! It’s also inspiring to see our newly formed crew come together in person. We'll start with a reopening weekend, and we have something extraordinary planned for November. You'll hear more about that very soon! All in all, expect a smashing nightclub where everyone with the right mindset feels welcome. We hope that the people who knew the club venue from previous years won't feel lost, although that might be the intention (laughs)!”