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.

Jimmy Dewit

Jimmy Dewit

DJ & selector, DJ Bobby Ewing (1971)

Can you describe what you do?

I’m a DJ, music producer and record selector. I DJ at parties, festivals, clubs either by myself (under the handle DJ Bobby Ewing) or with my long-time school buddies Frank Somers and Adriaan Van den Hoof, as Discobar Galaxie. I also create and write music for films and television in my studio in Linden, near Leuven. Finally, I travel all over Flanders with my rock’n’roll soulmate Jan Delvaux as Belpop Bonanza, our stand-up/rockumentary theatre show centred around the wonder years of Belgian pop-music.

At a younger stage in life, we were also very much part of the Oude Markt-scene with its multitude of bars, cafés and clubs, where we would visit frequently or DJ on a weekly – sometimes even daily – basis. Nowadays, I have the pleasure of working closely with cultural organisations like 30CC or Het Depot.

How do you perceive Leuven?

Leuven is a very cosy village under the guise of a city: it’s a relatively small place, where you meet the same people all the time – yet it has all the things a metropole has to offer, like architecture, shops, culture, and a great university.

An interesting point to make is that despite the largely international crowd present, the older generation of local inhabitants tend to be easily upset and sometimes even a bit narrow-minded – rather reminiscent of villagers – which makes for an odd yet intriguing combination.

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

Its beauty lies in the combination of a city and a village. It’s not too big, and it’s a great place to visit on weekends; whilst simultaneously containing the edgy appeal of a larger city. Furthermore, it’s a centrally located hub, which makes it easy to take trips to neighbouring cities.

My love for vinyl and records stems from our family business: during the 70s, my father installed juke-boxes in cafés all over Leuven, so I spent most of my youth between crates and crates of used vinyl singles.

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

I would say I’m the product of a very Leuven-based family: my maternal grandparents were the original founders and owners of In Den Vetten Os, one of Leuven’s oldest cafés – it’s still up and running to this day. On my father’s side, my grandfather was for many years the president of De Jaartallen van Leuven, a beautiful and unique world heritage tradition found here in Leuven, which was incidentally approved by UNESCO! Every September, the Speciale Kinderdag Arthur Dewit – an event named after its founder (my grandfather) is hosted, where children with disabilities are invited at the Leuven Kermis fair. Furthermore, my love for vinyl and records stems from our family business: during the 70s, my father installed juke-boxes in cafés all over Leuven, so I spent most of my youth between crates and crates of used vinyl singles.

Leuven is also firmly rooted within my musical career timeline. Oude Markt is where I was first inspired to start DJing, where plans for world domination through music came to life, and where the first Discobar Galaxie parties held at Rumba & Co. were thrown. For a long time, our only objective in life was to perform at the then-prestigious Marktrock festival. Since then, I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve played there – on top of that, we’ve also played many more shows all over Belgium. In 2006, I was appointed as a cultural ambassador for Leuven, becoming the first ever City DJ in the world. Come to think of it, most of the people I still work with closely today, I met in a bar once upon a time in Leuven – even my beloved wife!

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

Despite being a city with such great historical content, our “tourist train” could definitely be improved. Currently, it’s a solar-powered, ecologically-approved vehicle which makes a beautiful tour around the city – but it still remains a rather ugly, transparent box, reminding me of a ‘70s Lego train. One would expect to see plastic animals in there, rather than humans!

If you had to take an out-of-towner to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?

In true village-style, everything happens around Saint Peter’s Church – specifically, Grote Markt and our beautiful Town Hall. A mere hundred metres further, you’ll come across the miracle that is Oude Markt with all its cafés. Then look towards Parijsstraat/Pensstraat/Mechelsestraat: some of the cosiest streets in the world. All within a stone’s throw from each other.

Fun fact: there’s a bench located on Grote Markt dedicated to our late friend Jos “Jokke” Kerkhofs, musician and co-founder of the historically legendary Marktrock festival. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a sunset!