Even though French exile Camille Loiseau (1991) has only been living in the Belgian capital for a mere four years, she’s managed to get quite a firm grasp of the city’s ins and outs when it comes to music and night-life. Taking us on a tour of Brussels, she reveals some of the city’s best kept secrets, whether in electronic music, garage or French DIY pop.
I’m originally from Metz, France. During my studies I had the habit of moving around from city to city, year after year. I never managed to settle down somewhere. I didn’t want to, either. I came to Brussels four years ago, for a masters in journalism at ULB University, with the same idea of leaving as soon as the year was over. But I immediately felt right at home here, even more so than in France. So I figured, why leave? Even though I didn’t know anyone when I just arrived, and mostly went to concerts by myself, I quickly encountered many like-minded people. It all went pretty naturally. I wrote my thesis on independent record labels, and some of their founders have shaped the way I experience the city. People like Christof Hars from Humpty Dumpty Records, Vincent Faidherbe from Cheap Satanism, and lastly Didier Gosset, the founder of Black Basset. I don’t know if he’s aware of this, and I’m sure he’s going to laugh when he reads this, but he’s like an adoptive father to me. He introduced me to so many people, and showed me tons of places to go in Brussels. Café Central (Borgwal 14), for example. It’s a second home to me. Every Thursday there are concerts taking place, always experimental, often with analog synths and unexpected accompanying visuals. And then there are the many venues along the canal in the north of the city: Magasin 4 (Avenue du Port / Havenlaan 51B), Barlok (Avenue du Port / Havenlaan 53) and Allée du Kaai (Avenue du Port / Havenlaan 49). It’s an unusual area, in which you can easily feel cut off from civilisation, making it easy to stay around until the early hours.
There used to be a place called Rumsteek, which I really loved, with concerts taking place every Sunday in an attic somewhere in Anderlecht. Now the team behind Rumsteek opened up NGHE médiathèque (Rue des Mariniers / Schipperstraat 6) in Molenbeek, boasting a great programmation, as well. For electronic music there’s Épicerie Moderne (Rue des Chapeliers / Hoedenmakersstraat 30), which I find a nicer alternative to Bonnefooi when in need of a good after party. And I shouldn’t forget to mention the Holger and Catclub parties. Always in a different, unexpected venue, they’re undoubtfully surprising. But the best spot for music in Brussels is, hands down, the Beursschouwburg (Rue Auguste Ortsstraat 20-28). It’s a running gag amongst my friends, because I’m always there, yet I can’t even pronounce the name of the venue. Its great team, visual identity and programmation make this one a true bastion for culture in Brussels.
I’m much less into food than into music, but I recommend Knees to Chin (rue de Flandre / Vlaamsesteenweg 28) and Chicago (Rue de Flandre / Vlaamsesteenweg 45), both in the city centre. Where I live, close to the Parvis de St-Gilles / Sint-Gillis Voorplein, I like to go to Brasserie de l’Union (Parvis de Saint-Gilles / Sint-Gillisvoorplein 55) for soup when I’m too lazy to cook. Every Thursday evening there’s a market on the square with a guy selling the best Greek food. For records I recommend Pêle Mêle (Bd. Lemonnier / Lemonnierlaan 55). I used to work there so I know the staff, and they always have little gems that you can get for a steal. Veals & Geeks (Rue des Grands Carmes / Lievevrouwbroersstraat 8A) is pretty good too, mostly for their garage selection.
I’ve been trying to avoid the big chain stores when it comes to clothing, opting for second hand clothing in stead, and for this Think Twice (Rue du Vieux Marché aux Grains / Oude Graanmarkt 57), Docks Caviar (Rue de flandre / Vlaamsesteenweg 70, 72) and Episode (Rue de la Violette / Violetstraat 28) are always a good bet.