Walhalla Record’s Lieven De Ridder on Antwerp and surroundings

Lieven de Ridder (1965) is a commendable connoisseur of Belgium’s musical heritage, with a predilection for documenting and releasing vinyls of Belgium’s post punk and minimal wave output during the 1980s. One might just call him a godfather of minimal synth in Belgium. This music and film fiend shares with us a couple of his favourite spots in Antwerp and its surroundings, from Michelin-stared pita joints (no, really!) to his top ice cream parlor.

I don’t go out to eat very much, but there is a place called Rio (Museumstraat 2A – 9220 Hamme), which has been here since 1982. I spent all of my youth DJ’ing over there and know the owners. It still exists, but now it’s more a café with good spaghetti. We have good fries or frietkotjes in Hamme. In Moerzeke they have delicious asparagus and potatoes. Of course, nothing compares to my mom’s asparagus, she is the best cook. Along de Schelde are a lot of restaurants where you can eat very good ‘paling in ‘t groen’ (eel and vegetables). In Sint-Niklaas, you can play pool and they have the best ice cream in Belgium at Cremerie François (Ankerstraat 34, 9100 Sint-Niklaas). In Dondermonde they have a medieval cottage with a famous horse, Ros Beiaard, which only comes out once every ten years. I go every time to see it. Hamme is famous for the carnival and although I generally don’t like carnivals, I do go out and dress up for this one, because it’s so well known. I have been visiting Antwerp for many years, a few times a week. I have a lot of friends there. I really like shoarma; there’s a very good one at Finjan, it’s the only pita restaurant with a Michelin star (Graaf van Hoornestraat 1, 2000 Antwerpen). In Mortsel, there is a good and cheap restaurant called De Vlegel (Mechelsesteenweg 22, 2640 Mortsel). It’s not so expensive and the place is huge! Gringos is a good Mexican restaurant on the Ernest Van Dijckkaai (24). The owner is the famous Maryse, she was a DJ in Cinderella in the 80’s. Cinderella was a famous punk and new wave discotheque in Antwerp. It doesn’t exist anymore. When I was young I used to go there sometimes, but I also used to go out in Dendermonde (Koningshof, Ckomilfoo, Zipper), Sint-Niklaas (Number One, Avant Garde, BBC), Temse (Marron), and Ghent (to the discotheques on De Kuiperskaai like The Fash, The Elpee and the Fifty Five, Carrera and Boccaccio). For drinking in Antwerp there is Kleine Hedonist (Sint-Jacobsmarkt 34, 2000 Antwerp) where I organize a lot of parties and concerts. You have Bagger (Kattendijkdok Oostkaai 22, Het Eilandje, 2000 Antwerp) and Chatleroi (Graaf van Hoornestraat 2, 2000 Antwerp). Now I DJ at ReJonG (Koning Albertplein 6 – 9220 Hamme) and Buddha Lounge Hamme (De Ring 1 – 9220 Hamme). If friends are visiting Antwerp, I would take them to the castle, Het Steen (Steenplein 1, 2000 Antwerp) and the Vlaeykensgang, the oldest street in Antwerp. I don’t go shopping much, but for music Coffee and Vinyl (Volkstraat 45, 2000 Antwerp) is always a good place to be, as well as Wally’s Groove World (Lange Nieuwstraat 126 – 2000 Antwerp). I had my own shop, Walhalla Records, but I had to close it. It was cosy, but the location was not so good. I don’t really go to the opera or theater, but more to see films. In Antwerp there is not much choice left, but when I was young, you could choose from 30 or 40 cinemas. We used to go every week in the 70’s. The independent cinemas like Cartoons (Kaasstraat 4 2000 Antwerp) and Cinema Zuid (Waalsekaai 47, 2000 Antwerp) still exist. Go there to see films you cannot see anywhere else. I saw the first Star Wars there in ‘77 when, I was 11 years old. I saw the premiere in Belgium in Cinema Rubens in Antwerp. For going out? I organize a lot of events myself together with my friends Kris Nagels. We have an underground wave community. I was the first in Belgium to organize a minimal synth festival in 2006, with Martial Canterel and Oppenheimer Analysis. Unfortunately, Martin Lloyd died in 2013, so in my next compilation which will be coming out next year, I’ll add a never before released song he made together with Dave Rome, the founder of Survival records in the UK. The last concert I organized at Kleine Hedonists was Whispering Sons. We have been organizing concerts for many years; it started in Bar Tabac until they closed, continued in bar Nadar and when they stopped we moved on to Kleine Hedonist and have been there ever since. The next event is in February, when we’ll have the Liaisons Dangereuses Top 100. It is one of our best parties of the year. An ideal day out in the city? I would go to a record shop, any of the ones I mentioned. I would go drink a cappuccino at Caffènation (Mechelsesteenweg 19 2000 Antwerp). I would stroll around the Schelde, near Radio Centraal, where I have a radio show every Thursday called Wave Frequencies (Ernest Van Dijck Kaai 21- 2000 Antwerp). The area of the Eilandje is not the same as before, but you have discotheques, although they’re mostly for young people. For magazines I like IMS. There is one on the Melkmarkt 17 and another on the Stadsfeestzaal Mier 78 (2000 Antwerp). For Museums, visit the MAS (Hanzestedenplaats 1, 2000 Antwerp), the Fotomuseum (Waalsekaai 47, 2000 Antwerp) and the Modern Art Museum MHKA (Leuvenstraat 32, 2000 Antwerp).