Scene Report

Brussels

Always been curious about scenes in other cities outside your own little cocoon? We assumed you were! As much as we can, we’ll feed your hunger for insights and secrets in the Scene Report. There are thousands of ways we could look at Brussels. This time we’re taking you across the city built on a swamp through the eyes of Bledarte, a collective of women of colour that wants to put the spotlight on minorities through art and culture. These women are DJs, promoters, speakers on social and racial matters; they’re directors, photographers and even fashion designers. But above all, they’re six hybrid identities with different opinions and tastes, all call  Brussels home, and all have an unconditional love for this city.

Text by Bledarte Collective
Photos by Imane Azizi & Femi Kidjo

You can go from one neighbourhood to another in a few minutes and cross all kinds of invisible borders

Brussels is a bit like the first love you never forget: it’s not necessarily the biggest city or the most beautiful, but it is the most charming. You can go from one neighbourhood to another in a few minutes and cross all kinds of invisible borders. A lot of different scenes coexist: those that have always existed but which the media neglects, those that created themselves and draw attention and all the new ones coming up.

We spend most of our time at the basketball court in Dansaert. Stuck between the 5-blocs and the Dansaert neighbourhood, this place is a meeting point for all kinds of people, which is a real representation of Brussels. We can stay there for hours drinking litres of Capri-Sun and getting something to eat at Midi-Minuit, the snack bar on the corner. All that with music from Brussels in the background like Moka Boka, Tawsen or Youth Panda.

Just by crossing the street you’ll find one of the city’s best cultural meeting points, founded by Rachida Aziz: Le Space. It’s incredible that a place so little can host so many types of events, like open-mics, conferences, workshops and exhibitions.

A few steps from there, you come across the Beursschouwburg where the H E 4 R T B R O K E N parties take place – although not as often as we’d like. The Bledarte girls can’t get off the dancefloor while Liyo and Steff are behind the decks.

When we’re in more of a hip-hop mood, events organised by Lowkey Radio are really worth going to. We should also mention the Merhaba Funky Party for queer people of colour and their friends, with authentic DJs giving us the best raï, oriental and Arabic pop tracks for a queerly safe night. Sometimes we like to end our night at the Garnet’s smoking a hookah with Tiw-Tiw playing in the background.

A lot of different scenes coexist: those that have always existed but which the media neglects, those that created themselves and draw attention and all the new ones coming up

We can also rely on the Leaving Living Dakota collective to party. Founded by Wu-Tangu and Golce Dabbana, this collective organises parties inviting artists from Brussels and beyond such as Miss Beurette, Jardin, Moesha 13, Buga, MIMI or Kurama. Their goal is to create artistic connections throughout Europe by organising exhibitions and they also have their own monthly radio show, on The Word Radio.

We also feel very close, in terms of values, to the recently founded music label 2240Hz, founded by a hardworking and ambitious group of friends. They already signed four artists that can satisfy any kind of musical taste: urban pop, hardcore rap, R&B, soul, Afrotrap/zouk ect. Check them out.

It’s nearly impossible to talk about Brussels without mentioning Saint-Gilles, which is the commune of the moment. We love it here because of the rapper Aze2dine and the La Petite Epicerie, the best place to buy organic food and receive pure, genuine love from the owner.

La Petite Epicerie: the best place to buy organic food and receive pure, genuine love from the owner

The best way to discover Brussels is with the help of Collectif Mémoire Coloniale et Luttes Contre les Discriminations. They organise guided walking tours around Brussels in order to decolonise the city by informing us about the colonial history of Brussels. Everyone in Brussels should do one at least once. The capital city of our country is full of inspiring icons who tackle real societal problems such as Aïchatou Ouattara (afrofemnnista.com) and Latifa Elmcabeni (comité des parents contre les violences policières à Saint-Gilles).

Revolt and creativity go hand-in-hand with art. That’s maybe why we found so many talented artists in our city. In no particular order of preference, here they are: Izaya Mod, Amalyah; Summer Santana, G.A.N, Genesis Addiction, Clara! Mika Oki, Gan Gah,…

The brussels rap scene is expanding at an incredible rate. On the Flemish side, we have Jay MNG, who is doing great right now. In the South of Brussels, we feel obliged to mention Mc Django and 6zone. Our latest coup de coeurs are the boys from 34a and Shisen. And a producer currently owning the game  is BBL, the man behind many famous rappers’ songs. In a different style you have Sunrise Dealer, Aoru The Juicemaker and Loumana who should be followed closely.

What do we wish for the future of Brussels? More initiatives coming from minorities so that everyone has his/her place in the art world, music and the nightlife scene, which needs to be reclaimed from the elite.

What do we wish for the future of Brussels? More initiatives coming from minorities

The Essentials

  • Listening: Hip Hop/R&B, Mi Gyal – Hamza, Frank – Mood (Prod. by Glodi-San), Dawdaw – Tiw-Tiw, Bonaventure’s new ep “Mentor”
  • Festivals: Bledarte Zone Festival, Couleur Café
  • Venues: Beursschouwburg, Botanique, Le Space
  • Record Shops: Pêle-Mêle, Second Hand markets
  • Labels and promoters: 2240Hz, Leaving Living Dakota, Topnotch België, H E 4 R T B R O K E N
  • Bands: Tawsen, 34a, Jay MNG
  • Food: Summum, Snack Mimoza, Makifornia, Msemmen with nutella and grilled almonds