Friday, 11 May 2007
Carousing in Antwerp
Small photo: The dumpbrothers, big photos: Petrol nightclub
Carousing - what they do best in Antwerp. Wherever you go this (spring) time of year you will find people carousing, often where you least expect it. Drinking, drugs, singing, dancing, playing music, dressing up and staying up late seem to be generally well thought of by most if not all of the popluation (including Neo Nazis, Jews and Muslims of various persuasions), [I didn't actually witness any neo nazis carousing but I'm guessing].
So how to get in on it? Actually you could probably just wander around, any time of day except maybe 6am-12am and you'd happen upon something. But if time's short as it often is for the intrepid expat, having to get back to work on Monday, then here's some hints. I'll start with where you probably want to be at the end of the night and work backwards.
Scheld'apen and Petrol - two reasons you want a bike, unless you're a keen late-night walker. To find them go along the river until you pass over a big freeway that goes under the river (everything goes under the river, there's no bridges in Antwerp) keep going a short way and you'll get to Petrol and Scheld'apen, follow someone to find the entrance.
Scheld'apen is your ferally kind of place basically a small old building that is a bar, surrounded by a kind of vacant lot with nice trees and some outdoor stages. Probably not so good in inclement weather for this reason. The night we were there they even made food, although the dish was called 'wok' which is disturbing to an Australian, I didn't try it. We saw the dumpbrothers play there (see photos above), and there were about 300 enthusiastic people in the audience, so I think they might be the house act.
Petrol is a big shed with an asphalt floor. The decor isn't bad (see photos) but it seems to have really good acts! (Why don't we get these in Melbourne, there's only 450,000 people here). The night we were there it was a special one-off night called Microob (not sure if it is a regular event or one off). It was some kind of showcase of local talent. There was a really good DJ mixing up all kinds of stuff, I think it was the one called TWENTYSOMETHING but he doesn't have a myspace - damn! One band we saw which was quite good was sukilove, they have a webpage which is quite cute and you can hear their music:
Apart from that, just wander the streets in the old centre at night to see plenty of carousing in little bars. We were almost home Sunday night, when we passed by a tiny bar, half filled with a band consisting of a drummer with one drum and a cymbal, a bassist and a very drunk singer with keyboard (who sung loud enough not to need a microphone). Add to this a few tables and some very drunk customers carousing as much as was possible in the space, of various ages and degrees of eccentricity (judging by appearances). One had a little dog with him, a lady accosted another couple who were leaving, apparently accusing them of taking something from her handbag. Buying a drink didn't seem to be possible, instead were given Cava, the Catalonian Champagne which is the latest craze all over (I prefer it to Champagne myself, doesn't have the spew-aroma). Apparently the band had been walking past and asked if they could play, being as it was not a typical venue. After a while we left, the singer just got too drunk and stared at his keyboard telling everyone to wait a minute when they complained and two british tourists came in, one slapping his knee and insisting we sit on it.
Antwerp bands: since leaving Antwerp, I have been lucky enough to see two Antwerp bands play here in Nijmegen. DAAU (Die Anarchistische Abendunterhaltung - The Anarchic evening entertainment) are pretty good - you can listen to their music here:
They played this song:
This one on their website is good, it is with a singer called An Pierlé who seems cool, although I never heard of her:
The lost pussy
They do a mean static. I saw them would you believe at a place formerly known as the Open Air Bible Museum. Recently renamed as Museum Park Orientalis. Wierder and wierder but wait.... forthcoming: 12 Adventures in Nijmegen.