Mechelseplein Feesten 2016
This weekend, an extraordinary festival will take place in our little metropolitan A-town: the Mechelseplein Feesten ("Mechels' Square Fest"). Not only is it a part of our cultural heart, it's also created by people who are born and bred here. It used to be organized by the city itself, but this year Millennials like you and me have taken over and will use the characteristics of the old festival and combine it with our generation's trends. I'm lucky enough to call one of these Millennials - Robin Houben - a good friend, so I've got a scoop on the new organizers of our all-time favorit city festival!
This Is Antwerp: Hi Robin, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I guess you're super busy since the Mechelseplein Feesten are already this weekend. Can you explain what the Mechelseplein Feesten are?
Robin Houben: "I think everyone in Antwerp knows more or less about this festival. It's been around since forever. But fair enough, there was a little break the past couple of years.
It all started out as a goodbye party for Jan Decleir - one of Belgium's most celebrated actors - when he retired from the Studio Herman Teirlinck, a legendary theatre school. At that time, the students performed a show, there was music, dancing and drinks. Lots of drinks! The bars and restaurants on the square loved the party and wanted to transform it into a genuine city festival. After years and years, the festival became a bit too expensive and organizing it became too much of a hassle. But luckily for us, last year, De Studio - the former Studio Herman Teirlinck and now a popular venue - decided to revive this epic event and this year we had the honor of organizing it."
TIA: Sounds like a genuine cultural thing, actually! So how come you decided to get involved?
Robin: "My friend and I have a party-collective called STALKER and we asked De Studio if we could take over this year. Since we've organized a lot of smaller events in De Studio, they gave us their blessing and sh*t got real!
In the past we have successfully organized the Leave Us At Dawn and ZWART events. We also manage the online Nightshop Delivery Service and a music band. And finally we organize a summer camp every year as well.
We've always loved the Mechelseplein square and we know that a lot of locals have experienced many crazy nights on this notorious square. So we decided to take this up a notch and asked the people of the city to work together with us to create a night to remember!"
TIA: I saw you've launched a crowdfund website and a clip. Why are you taking this approach this year?
Robin: "Well, it's fairly simple. Basically, projects like this are more like an expensive hobby and we're kind of broke. Since it's the first time we're organizing this festival, we would be even thrilled to get a break-even. So with the crowdfunding, we're trying to make sure that we won't go bankrupt right after the first edition.
Moreover, it's a neighbourhoud party. So why not include the locals from the start? And it's a win-win, because people actually just pay for their drink coupons up front. It's an amazing initiative made possible by the De Konick city brewery."
TIA: Convince us... Why will this edition be super extra awesome?
Robin: "This year, it'll be simple but efficient: people get together, drink a beer and have a chat in a very relaxed environment. There are plenty of performances and concerts from De Studio and after these shows, you can just chill out on the tribune made by Kuurjeus. Or on some granny's chairs while watching the ping-pong tournament. On Saturday there'll be an urban garden which we created together with the design duo Roedel. And ofcourse there'll be lots of drinks, snacks and music. It'll be a genuine urban jungle!"
Since all this sounds amazing, what can you do to help? Robin can use everyone's support! So grab your wallet an buy your drinking coupons in advance. And if you're wallet still seems too empty, buy a ticket for one of the performances or the afterparty! After all, if you want the party to be a success, you'll have to be a true local hero and help the peeps of the Mechelseplein Feesten build the greatest city festival ever!
More about the Mechelseplein Feesten and tickets?
Text by Cleo Klapholz
Pics by the Mechelseplein Feesten & Julie Verlinden