The Brussels Bike Hundred

100 portraits, stories and bicycles

We’re teaming up with Bike for Brussels to put together a 100-strong selection of local heroes shaping the city each in their own way. From designers and DJs to performers and publishers, these are the creatives riding Brussels forward.

Pablo Saccomano

Pablo Saccomano, 1983

Handless DJ

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.

I’ve been in Brussels for 15 years now. I recently quit my job as a bar manager at Jane’s and I’ve been travelling quite a lot since then. Right now, I’m mentally preparing to move to Copenhagen in September.

How has Brussels shaped you as an individual as well as your professional activities?

I came to Brussels to finish my master’s degree in French. However, as I was unable to enrol in university upon arrival, I started working in hospitality instead, from dive bars and dodgy 24-hour kitchens to more popular and sophisticated places. It’s also around that time that I joined High Needs Low and developed my DJ project. Horeca has always just been a secondary job, but it did allow me to have flexible working hours and develop management skills, self-confidence and work ethics. On a social level, I had to deal with customers from extremely different backgrounds, from echte Brusseleirs to Eurocrats and everything in between. As far as DJing is concerned, I was lucky to be surrounded by gifted people who trusted and always pushed me to do things my way. Brussels is a human-scale metropolis fuelled by so many talented people. Since Brussels isn’t as saturated as many other major European cities, people tend to share ideas and be more openminded. Its geographical position and multicultural flavour result in a continuous flow of ideas, inspiration and creativity. I’ve gradually earned the trust of promoters, been lucky enough to integrate a great booking agency, play on main stages and get residencies over the last decade. My journey would have looked very different had it not been for the influence of everything that comes with Brussels: the diverse group of people I’ve learned from and exchanged with, and Brussels’ nightlife (or the lack thereof) which inspired a more creative DIY approach.

List three things you like the most about Brussels.

  • Brussels, with its high level of creativity, is very generous in the sense that you’re not only defined by what you do but who you are as an individual too, which means you can easily set your own pace without freaking out or facing major panic attacks. It also allows you to reach a healthy balance between having fun and working hard, and this is something I really like about this city.
  • Another thing is the multicultural approach of the city: there’s enough space for everyone and for everyone to grow. That, to me, is one of Brussels’ major wins.
  • In Brussels, the saying “opposites attract” takes on its full meaning. Look around and you’ll see people of all creeds sharing a pint, or beautiful buildings next to – let’s be honest – ugly ones, creating some sort of harmony. I love the fact that shrimp tomatoes, that nasty 80s shrimp cocktail trend, is still a thing. And I love the fact that, in Brussels, people are more committed to their local breweries than their local politicians.

List three deciding factors that converted you to bicycle use.

I’m actually a fairly recent cyclist. About three years ago, I moved from busy downtown Brussels to live in Jette with Culte Agency’s honcho, Yoann (aka Hubbie), who’s also one half of the techno duo GøldFFinch.

  • On a Sunday morning after playing at Fuse, we passed by a bike market where Yoann found an old Sunn, my ultimate object of desire during my teenage years. It was finally mine! However, I have to admit that I was quite lazy, so I was always relying on public transport or running to catch my appointments. When I quit my job though, I was out of excuses. I geared up, bought a helmet and started to use my bike every day. I’ve since realised that cycling is much more practical and quick. Plus, I no longer rely on the questionable public transport system and taxis. Extra spending money for records!
  • The second reason might be health: I’m not much of a sporty person. For years, my only physical activity was bar service and foot stomping on the dancefloor. I tend to smoke more than I should, and biking is now part of my everyday routine, which limits my chain-smoking and forces me to use my (tiny) muscles. Biking has now become a necessity to kickstart my day, giving me energy and reducing my stress levels. Plus, I sleep way better at night.
  • Finally, I can feel good about not contributing to the death of the planet – no one needs to know that I don’t have a driver’s licence and that I don’t have any other choice.

I love the fact that, in Brussels, people are more committed to their local breweries than their local politicians.

List three favourite bike routes in Brussels.

  • My everyday ride from Simonis to Dansaert through Molenbeek, and then continuing either towards the Marolles or using the new bike lane towards Brussels-South station. This route is fast, steep and passes through different neighbourhoods with their own unique vibe.
  • I don’t mind adding extra kilometres on my way back home following the canal, cutting through Tour & Taxis to get to Belgica. Their park has recently been renovated and you can catch a beautiful sunset, witness families and young people loitering on the grass, without a car in sight.
  • My last one would be a classic Jette sightseeing tour, starting with the Lourdes grotto replica, then Atelier 34zero with a nice beer in WODEK’s garden or the guinguette in the Roi Baudouin Park and then back to Miroir square to have a meal at my favourite Lebanese place in Brussels.

soundcloud.com/handlessdj