Watch our documentary about today’s techno scene in Belgium ahead of the much-anticipated reopening of our nightclubs this weekend.
Belgium and techno; the love story is well documented (check out our Bonzai documentary if you haven't already). But as the world we live in changes faster than a gabber track, it's a great moment to take a moment and reflect on the current state of the techno scene in our country. With contributions from promoters Kompass, Fuse, Ampere, Rave Rebels, C12, VOLTAGE, and Hangar, as well as Charlotte de Witte, Phara, Emily Jeanne, Marco Bailey, Kr!z, Sara Dziri, Milo Spijkers, Border One, Crevette Records and N.E.W.S. Records, this documentary is a testimony to the resilience, diversity and strength of the Belgian techno scene.
To answer why techno continues to have such appeal is not easy. “Techno is dark, repetitive and melancholic”, says Charlotte de Witte. But techno also equals “letting go and entering a different world”, according to Fuse and VOLTAGE Festival promoter Steven Van Belle. Marco Bailey summarized techno’s main appeal efficiently in just one word: “energy!”
With such an essential role in the genre's history, it shouldn't surprise you that the Belgian techno scene has never been more active. “Techno is part of the Belgian DNA”, explains Stefaan Vandenberghe of N.E.W.S. Records. This explains the enthusiasm on our dance floors across the club scene. While cities like London or Berlin are still ahead of us in many respects, “there are not many places in the world where the club scene is better”, says C12 promoter Tom Brus. And it looks like the offer of techno events in our country is growing every day. “Whether you are looking for a cozy party or a big rave, there’s something for every type of fan, every weekend”, adds Phara.
Techno is part of the Belgian DNA.
That revival can be attributed to various recent developments, the most important of which is the democratization of music production combined with – quite simply – the internet. “Finding and buying your music used to be a very labour-intensive activity”, explains veteran Marco Bailey. But nowadays, “you can find any track ID right here, right now”, adds Michiel Claus from Crevette Records. Studio gear has also become much more affordable over the years, resulting in a new generation of young producers taking the genre to new places.
One of the main concerns within the techno scene is the alleged over-commercialization of the genre. Does techno really work on huge festival stages (as is more and more the case), or should it only be experienced in dark underground raves? "What even is underground?" asks Milo Spijkers. “The thin line between mainstream and underground has become blurry”. “In its essence, it’s still very much underground music”, says Olivier Ramoudt from Rave Rebels. “But what’s wrong with bringing the music to the masses?” “Now that the portal has been opened, the important thing is that new fans dig a little deeper than just the festival anthems”, explains Ampere’s Joachim Marynen.
Today's generation of promoters is extremely cooperative and welcoming towards new players.
That said, there's still a lot of work to do, unfortunately. “Women are still very much underrepresented in the Belgian techno scene”, explains Emily Jeanne. “But the main techno artists in our country are female”, adds DJ-promoter Sara Dziri. “That gives the impression we have a very inclusive scene, but one only has to look at the number of women on event lineups to see we still have a long way to go.”
In conclusion, though, there's a lot to be optimistic about. After all, we're a small country with hundreds of clubs, events and festivals dedicated to techno. "Today's generation of promoters is extremely cooperative and welcoming towards new players", says Jens Grieten of Kompass. "Belgian ravers have plenty of choices every weekend, " concludes Steven Van Belle. "All that competition will just lead to a healthier scene". So if there’s one message to take away from this video, it’s that there has never been a better time to be a techno fan in Belgium. We hope to see you on the dancefloors of our beloved rave temples from this weekend onwards. After all, we have a legacy to protect.