The Leuven Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

We’ve joined forces with Leuven to highlight 100 local people, places and projects that contribute towards making the city what it is today. From artists and architects to producers and professors, these are the driving forces powering Leuven forward one ingenious initiative at a time.

Hans Steenberghs

Hans Steenberghs

DJ, Synik (1996)

Can you describe what you do?

Weekdays, I’m based in Leuven; and if I’m not playing any gigs or working in Café AperO, I’ll head home to Herent during the weekend. I’m currently studying in Brussels, so three days a week I travel by train to the capital. When classes are over, I often visit record stores like The Collector, Caroline Music and Veals & Geeks. Aside from classes, I’ll head to any party, concert or event which I find intriguing. You can find me every Thursday night at the Radio Scorpio studio for a show titled Klankkultuur though, which I host with DJ AliA, DJ Flake, Pieter and Marguerite. I also organise events myself, like Digitaal Materiaal and Jazz in Stadhuis. Leuven’s a small city: there’s not one scene per genre, but rather just one extensive group of people who all enjoy music, deejaying and organising events.

How do you perceive Leuven?

Although Leuven’s a small city, the city’s cultural landscape is really dynamic thanks to the presence of organisations and crews like Tangram Records and ONKRUID, just to name a few. It’s also a young city, and many of its young inhabitants are up to some very cool things – think Fabrik, for one. On the other hand, a major part of the local party-scene, made up of bars and events, sadly don’t always invest in quality. But there’s still plenty on offer, especially in comparison to other similarly sized cities.

A really creative and intuitive atmosphere, there’s more on offer than just student-parties.

What would you say is Leuven’s main appeal as a city? What gives it its edge?

As I said before, the scene is small, yet still very innovative and dynamic. When comparing Leuven’s size to other cities, there’s plenty of great venues, concepts and creative people to be found here. A really creative and intuitive atmosphere, there’s more on offer than just student-parties. Besides that, Leuven is also a cosy place to live in. At every event or party, you’re sure to come across an acquaintance.

How has Leuven contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

Leuven has plenty of hard-working people within the creative industry who really get things done. This inspires me to keep going, too. In my opinion, local creatives often connect with other creatives based in other cities, which always keeps things fresh and interesting.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city? What could it do better?

Leuven has an underground scene which unfortunately is unable to develop sufficiently, because too many people – students in particular – don’t show enough interest in quality DJ’s and concepts. Consequently, some quality concepts are unfortunately forced to relocate to other cities, or quite simply just dry up. Also, there’s no real night-club in Leuven – something which desperately needs to be looked into.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Leuven?

Café AperO, most certainly: a very cosy bar located on Oude Markt. In my opinion, it’s the nicest place to hang out, with different DJs invited to play at least three times a week. Disco, house, funk or jazz – it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s soulful music. The STUKcafé is a great spot to eat and check out concerts – there’s also a jazz night hosted every Sunday evening.

A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth that, to you, encapsulates the spirit of the city?

Apparently there was a little record store in the 1980s, on the first floor of Café AperO, just to provide the resident DJ with a daytime job. Support your local DJs.