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.

Mike Naert

Mike Naert

Director, Het Depot / Co-owner, Café Sport (1968)

Can you describe what you do?

I’m (Artistic) Director of Het Depot: a music club with a concert hall, a smaller venue, and facilities for musicians to create, rehearse and record their music. Located in front of Leuven Station, we organise around 200 concerts per year. I work primarily in the local music scene, so it’s handy to live just next door with my family above Café Sport, a bar I co-own, while my house on Naamsestraat is being renovated.

How do you perceive Leuven? What would you say is Leuven’s main appeal as a city?

Leuven is a small town but with the feel of a bigger city, thanks to the presence of the University and the people who work or study there. As a result, its citizens are very open-minded and welcoming of other cultures – perhaps more than in similarly-sized cities. The city boasts a busy cultural agenda all year round, as well as rich historical heritage and abundant nature.

Leuven gave me the opportunity to realise my biggest dream: to run a music venue!

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

I first came to Leuven in 1986 to study – and ended up never leaving the town. Leuven gave me the opportunity to realise my biggest dream: to run a music venue! A dream I’ve been working on for two decades now – and I hope Het Depot is providing plenty of fun for Leuven and its inhabitants.

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

Leuven has become a very clean and proper city, which is nice; but it could also do with a little bit more edginess. I would love to see more nightlife, with some forward-thinking bars and clubs taking hold of the city-scape.

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

It’s hard to pick one place: in my eyes, life in Leuven is really defined by its traditional bars, like Café Sport, Leuven Central, Café Allee or Den Delper. A mix of people who love to drink Stella, have a laugh and talk nonsense.

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

Big Bill, of course! He never really recorded his music, but he does truly embody the spirit of Leuven.