dwars continues to sharpen its already razor-sharp tongue to mercilessly lick the spine of books, movies, series, games, music, theatre, hair products and rubber ducks. On the this week's menu: the concert of Dominik Eulberg in Antwerp's techno church Café d'Anvers through the eyes of Erasmusstudent Florian.
I had only been in beautiful Antwerp for two days when I got money for the first time from those indoor ATMs at Ossenmarkt, where I saw a concert poster announcing Dominik Eulberg. It is the one electronic musician and DJ I prefer to all the others and whom I have already seen three times back in Austria. Every time it was kick-ass. The music might not seem so special when you listen to his albums, but they are intertwined with Eulberg's elaboration on all kind of birds in between the tracks, as he is also an ornithologist. You can see this on his website.
It is, however, on the second, third and fourth re-run that you will start to discover all the intricacies and fineness in the albums, similar to acts such as Jon Hopkins or Pantha du Prince. It won’t come as a surprise that immediately I knew I had to go there, at all costs, be it alone or together with a friend. Luckily, the show was not in the far feature, but already on my third weekend in town, on the 24th of February to be exact, and that way I had found the ideal starting point to discover the electronic scene here in Antwerp. This blog will cover my experiences in and with the Antwerp nightlife at irregular intervals.
For me, being an Erasmus student from Vienna, it is obvious to compare everything here with my experiences from back home. Sometimes this makes sense, sometimes not at all – in any case I want to be here with open eyes and a free mind. As it is my second student exchange already (after Kraków back in 2016, which is also a superb party city), I am kind of saturated with the Erasmus parties, though they can be great fun and for sure are the easiest way to get to know your fellow exchangers. However, I am much more interested in local life and want to go where you Belgians go.
After numerous nights mainly spent in the bars around the Ossenmarkt and the first two weeks passing really quickly, February 24th came almost in the blink of an eye. After some hours of pre-drinking at a friend’s place, we arrived in the club at about 1 o’clock. Eulberg’s set was from 3 to 5, so there was still some time to check out the place and get our dancing shoes on. First surprise, for us not knowing our way around too well yet: the club is directly in the red-light district. Turns out that not only in Vienna some of the best clubs and bars are located in shady, lets-say, neighborhoods. Still surprising though, that the girls are behind glass facades. Back in Austria, prostitution is much more hidden, and initiating contact rarely happens out on the streets any more, even less so in window displays. I’m not quite sure what to make of it, whether it is better that it's more visible here, as it (sadly) is a substantial part of society. Awareness about the issue for sure is important, but on the other hand, there must also be kids and families living around there. So I have mixed feelings about this.
Second surprise: Cafe d’Anvers looks like a church, feels like a church and actually is located in a church, which was built in the 16th century and since 1989 works as Café d’Anvers. When entering, you have to make your way around the wardrobe, toilets and bar, before coming into the club’s heart, or, more accurately: the church’s nave. With its high ceiling, a mix of century-old brickwalls and industrial elements such as huge wind turbines and a well-sized, well-crowded dancefloor already at this time, this place was better than I even hoped for and different than all clubs I’ve been to.
Perfectly on time at 3am, Eulberg appeared on stage and after some subtle, fade out of Nicki Moreno (who delivered a decent, even if not spectacular minimal techno set at too-low volume), the actual holy mass started. Our priest didn’t waste any time, pushed the tempo and sound volume to new heights and started a kick-ass techno set. The club was decently filled at this time, but luckily there was still enough space to dance. People went crazy, the lights and turbine-ventilation began firing (wind sometimes too strong and chilly), and the DJ and the people were at the same wavelength from the very first beats and baselines, which rarely happens. In his set, Eulberg modestly, but sophistically mixed some of his own music into other tracks, in addition to well-placed changes of speed and rhythm. He got the club dancing within a blink of an eye. It was a pleasant surprise to see that this rather unknown DJ manages to fill a 800-people-club some 300km away from his homebase in Western Germany. I did know that almost everybody in the Netherlands is into techno, but I didn’t know that the music is that popular here as well.
I will certainly come back to this church, as it not only offers a massive sound system, but also a nice mix of people, neither them nor the place being too posh or too fucked-up (in general, I prefer grungy clubs, as they usually are the more exciting ones). One guy even helped me out at the toilet, when I didn’t have cash to pay and a bouncer was already approaching me to make me pay or leave (in a friendly way though). I will certainly bring some coins next time, as well as fresh energy, as this sublime techno-cathedral might manage to make me believe again.