BRUSSELS: NIGHTLIFE GUIDE

LAST UPDATE: 27th October 2016

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Going out in Brussels? Yes, but where? That’s The ultimate question of any newbie, tourist or occasionally even local in this town.

This guide will try to give you a quick overview of the Brussels Nights… which is an addition to the weekly agenda with more ideas….


NIGHTCLUBS

In Brussels (and probably in many other cities around the World), the Golden Age of clubs is over.

But there’s still some clubs in town who find their public… So I thought about different categories in order to explain to you how I see it!

The VIP’s Clubs

They are known for their wonderful decoration: “fabulous”, “glamorous”, “luxurious” are the type of terms you’ll find in any description about those places. That’s a type of club which will put more money on its decoration than on the DJ’ salary (except when they invite a famous one).

The crowd is “classy”, “BCBG”, “Posh” and A VIP area will definitely be part of the club. To be allowed in that area, you’ll need to book a table and buy few bottles of alcohol.

The music is known as mainstream: similar to what we can hear on FM radios: it can be electro (think David Guetta or Laurent Garnier and generally EDM more than techno or house that you enjoy at the Berlin’s Berghain club for example), they can have some R’n’B nights or Hip Hop (and this would preferably be 50cents than the latest Gilles Peterson remix).

Which clubs you can find under that category? Mirano Continental orthe Spirito.

The venues are amazing: Spirito used to be a Church, Mirano is a former cinema theater.

You can add the Sett Club ideally situated in the beautiful Tours and Taxi building and the Martini Bar to the group.

The Bloody Louis use to be the Louise Gallery, way more mainstream and is now trying to focus on the music that can’t be found usually in clubs, with a focus on local DJ’s. It attracts a young crowd and there’s often a very long queue at the entrance. That said, it is still too mainstream  (and expensive) for the “I’m Not On The Guest List” usual reader, even if the selection of DJ’s is very well most of the time!

Another club well known for years is called Jeux d’Hiver, in the middle of Bois de la Cambre. It is mostly patronized by the Golden Youth (with a postal address in Uccle for example).

The Communities clubs

I wasn’t sure of a name to give to this category of clubs. I came up with this idea of ‘community’, because when I think of them, I instantly have an idea of the type of community of people they will attract.

The You Night Club is known to attract the youngest crowd (and LGBT public on Sundays).

If you’re not looking for trendy maybe you’ll like Le Cactus is known to attract people over 30 and even older… A bit like the Nostalgia Club and its disco music if you’re a fan of strange time travel where the venue and the music remain the same and where the people are also the very same ones… just getting older!

In the “community” type of club, you can add the Havana Club, and its latino atmosphere: a place where you will surely move your body!

For the Gay community: some clubs offer a specific night: it might be weekly, usually Sundays (check the “Gay Tea Dance” at You, the Pulse parties at Canoa Quebrada or the Bloody Louis), or monthly like La Demence parties (at the Fuse). Most of the LGBTQI nightlife is held in specific bars or parties, like Chez Maman, le Boys Boudoir, and many other bars in the Sint-Jacobs Wijk area…

The DJ’s temples

If you’re looking for a specific type of music, including all its subcategories, you’ll have to follow the DJ’s. The good ones, the ones we can call artists. Those clubs are known for their more alternative music. They are a paradise for Night Owls!

The Fuse definitely falls into this category: you’ll find there the best of the best of the local and international electro scene. I’m afraid that’s the only real place for a full clubbing experience….

The New Clubs

This category is constituted by venues in between bars and clubs or are a bit hybrid: only parties, but not directly organized by the club. Anyway: they offer a real nightlife program!

There’s Madame Moustache.This bar and club organize several parties every week. Frequently there’s a live concert to start the evening. On their website, you can find all the different types of parties they have. It can be very different from a night to another. It’s possible that someone who’s going to Madame Moustache on Thursdays will never go there on Saturdays and would hate the place if s/he does!

Close by to Madame Moustache, in rue de la Vierge Noire is the club called Stereo (the venue was previously Club la Vilaine, and prior to that was Mr. Wong). As they just opened, it’s not easy to tell you what they are about, but the line up seems interesting and worth a visit.

Probably the most exciting news of 2016 is the opening of a new club right in the Grand Place area and called Zodiak. They have just opened and threw parties only on Saturdays, but so far so good apparently! They have a great program, I’ve been said that the crowd is nice and friendly and the price is in good range, not to mention that they seem to have a friendly approach when it comes to the door and who’s allowed to get in!

The Wood had to close its doors but is now holding parties at a club in the center of the city called Barrio, so check both their pages to see what they’re up to!

Check also the Bazaar:  the club sublets its space for parties, but, can occasionally also hold its own ones (maybe once a month… ). As they have two rooms, don’t be surprised if you find the promotion for four parties in a specific weekend in the same venue! Some of the best parties in town are organized there lately!

While reading the numerous flyers, you will probably see the of some places who are not clubs, but venues that people rent for parties. The most famous one is probably la Bodega, in Molenbeek.

BARS

When talking about going out, the first thought goes to bars: even if you’re going to a party afterward, you’ll need to meet with all your friends for a first drink somewhere, right?

Bars and cafés get it perfectly and they try to keep people longer with a DJ set or sooner thanks to a live band. Some bars are hybrid: between a bar and a club. For example the Bonnefooie, in the Center.

All those places have a musical program and you should find a specific atmosphere nearly every night of the weekend.

I also have to give the name of Dali’s Bar. That’s now several years that this place is a temple for electro music with very nice selection. It is situated right in the most touristic area of Brussels, a street where I suggest any visitor avoid nearly everything. As the French grammar, this rule knows few exceptions: Dali’s Bar being one of them!

Another bar in the Grand Place area which is worth a visit is Epicerie Moderne, one of my favorite lately. They have different sort of parties and DJ’s Sets of excellent quality, offering some cutting edge electro music.

If you want to spend the night dancing on the tables, you should definitely try Le Celtica in the center…

Don’t get into the trap of the Club Clandestin, in a small street of the Sablon area. Despite its name and situation, it’s not a clandestine, secret, hidden gem hard to find for the outsiders. They are misusing the name and the place usually attract posh people over 30, but can be more eclectic depending on the party organized. Note that certain nights, they give the stage to bands playing live.

There’re plenty of other bars all around town: most places with a bunch of cafés are in three districts:

Center: Saint-Géry area is full of bars. I talked already about Bonnefooie, but you should definitely visit my favorite bar in the area is Café Central (but from a night to another music can be very different, as they’re not afraid to explore various genres) and check La Machine, which host many live music events, including groovy jam (replacing slowly what we could found at Bravo bar, who closed recently).

In the same area, there’s Lord Byron (see below more about it) and the legendary Archiduc known for its jazz concerts since 1937! The Archiduc have seen generations of night owls, each generation having their own reasons to like it, and to hate when it’s not like it used to be “in their time”…

Closer to the Canal, there’s a cool bar called Walvis, where you can find some live music some nights.

Ixelles: the district has several areas with bars where you can enjoy your night. For example, there’s Place du Châtelain (on Wednesdays), Plux (on Thursdays), Flagey (mostly on Fridays – but Thursdays can be also lively or any other night if the weather is nice), and few other very great spots. If you’re curious, check my Infamous Guide To Flagey Bars. And of course, I need to mention the area around the Cimetière d’Ixelles, which is THE student area, most of the times, very busy during week nights, with bars like le Tavernier, Waff, L’Atelier, le Guauguin and many more.

Saint-Gilles: the heart is the Parvis de Saint-Gilles : more for drinks, but sometimes you can find a Dj set at Café de la Maison du Peuple. Also, closer to the town hall, le Café de la Pompe has Dj sets on a regular basis.

And thousands of another little street with hidden not so hidden gems!

Many parties in Bars ended earlier than in clubs, nevertheless, some bars have the reputation for being the “place to be” for after parties: that’s where you’ll crash if you still don’t want to go home!

Note that at that time, most of the people were soaked or under the influence… Those places can be shady, let’s face the reality. Nevertheless, here and there, you can have great times!

So try la Touche d’Ivoire – in Chatelain area – for some reason, year after year there’s still awake till late if not early the next morning.

One of the most infamous bar in town is certainly le Bar Rouge: it’s a very small bar, in a very little street close to Porte de Namur. It’s not officially an after party bar, but I still have to meet or to hear about someone who got the idea to get there before 2AM. Inside, it’s very small, all red and crowded. Year after year, generations of night owls lost track of time inside this place… Honestly, I haven’t been there myself for ages… but I hear from time to time that the place is still running and well!

In the Flagey area, La Diligence has also the reputation for being the last island for lost night owl souls… Once in a blue, there’s even live music in the middle of the night! It’s not really often, but when it happens, it’s nearly magical. Recently the Portuguese café O’Regua changed its design and look like a club from the 80’s: music, lights, colors… a bit weird, but I’ve seen people dancing like crazy… even if the music is not cutting edge at all!

In the center, when all the bars of Saint-Gery close their doors, the thirsty find his way to Lord Byron, also known to close the doors the latest, which is only one of its many qualities.

Lately, I’ve seen that after parties are organized in a bar in the center: more useful than the name of the bar, is certainly the name of the parties: Non Peut-être. You better follow their page to check the next event.

That said, don’t count on any of those addresses on a regular basis: atmosphere and opening hours can change all the time…

But let’s talk about what is, in my opinion, the heart of Brussels’ nightlife: the independent concept parties.

CONCEPTS PARTIES

A group of people get together and decide to organize a party. They have an idea: a certain type of music that they like maybe mixed with some other forms of art (Vj, painting, …. ). In general, they create what they feel is missing in the Brussels scene.

Then they’ll start to organize that type of party on a regular basis: weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly or when they feel like doing it. It depends on the partnerships they can find.

The venue will depend on the concept, the finances, the network of the team: at times it will be held at the same place (and even in the same venue as many other concept parties), sometimes, they will move from a place to another. Some even make it part of the concept to find new places!

If you want to get to know a bit more about the different type of concept parties, I’ve created a (non-exhaustive) list for Visit Brussels’ website, called “Parties in Brussels”. I’m trying to keep the list up to date; deleting old concepts and adding the newest ones.

The most popular ones in Brussels are Libertine Supersport, Leftorium, Anti Tapas, Strictly Niceness, Los Ninos, Zukunft, Catclub, Opus…: if you like the DJ’s Temples type of clubs.

But of course, you can find parties for any type of people: if you fall for the “VIP” category, then try the Just A Night or Les Folies Bourgeoises and LGBT will love the Dansez-Vous Français parties!

Some weeks, you can find a party every day from Wednesday until Saturday (or even Sunday) but it will depend on the music you like!

As most of the events organizers use Facebook for promoting their event, I’ve listed all pages that I could find in this Interest List to which you can subscribe!

OTHER IDEAS

Parties can be thrown in squats (occupied buildings), some are organized by associations: they have a dinner, a concert or a performance followed by a DJ set… The music is not the essential criteria, but you can have awesome surprises.

You might have noticed that most of the places to go out are in the triangle Center-Ixelles-Saint Gilles, but now and then Saint-Josse, Molenbeek, Anderlecht, Schaerbeek or other area are on the nightlife map… Jette has been showing some activity lately!

Uccle might try to go a little bit “wild” but will fail miserably as soon as the first neighbor will call the police when there’s a party at Pavillon  Louis XV in the Wolvendael Park. That said the squat Leskiv is in Uccle and the Communa was there but moved recently, but you might be surprised to find yourself taking the route towards that area.

During the Summer, you might want to attend an open air party. I would then suggest you read the summer guide about after work drinks and parties.

Last but not least, there’s parties organized during a specific event: festival, exhibition, a new album for an independent label, …

But while I’m adding those last info, I can tell that you’re lost again…

No worries come back here to read the weekly agenda to get some more specific ideas!

Yelyam

Cover Picture: taken in Berlin – July 2014

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. I you fancy the after work party go to PluxMeetup.eu to find companion and party ideas.

  2. Balkan Party says:

    I should try Balkan Party @ Brussels FB: Balkanika Balkanika

    1. Lise says:

      @balkan party: when, where?

      1. Yelyam says:

        @Lise : You should connect with them on FB to be updated: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008528887530 ;-)

        Check also the page of the Balkan Trafik Festival (who took place last w-e) : https://www.facebook.com/balkantrafikfestival/timeline

        Have FUN! :-)

  3. Partymap says:

    Hi guys, this is a complete and up to date review of Brussels’ night life, congrats! Nothing left to add.

    If you are after electronic music, you can also check our website: http://www.partymap.net, we gather electronic music events in one simple map. :-)

    Have a good night out!

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