It has always been about the musical experience

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The 11th of May will mark the 100-day anniversary of Different Class, and what better way to celebrate this than with a party? One of the ‘hosts on duty’ at Pilar will be Brussels-based party-ensemble Club Détour. We chatted with Lodewijk Germanes – a.k.a Louis Vogue – about the collective’s early days, present, and future.

How did Club Détour come into being? What was the reason for starting the collective?

It was in 2019. All three of us were already organising events for different collectives at the time. One evening we got together and chatted about potentially getting something off the ground together. After some talks, we realised that all three of us were more or less on the same wavelength. The funny thing is that Jonas and I didn't know Soumaya very well before that, but there was an immediate click, both on a personal and artistic level. The three of us were immediately very motivated and eager to do something together.

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Now, what was the reason for starting our collective? We noticed that there was something going on in Brussels; there were parties which focused more on the experimental – then there were parties that focused more on house or techno. We felt there were still some ‘islands' to explore. The idea was to organise something that combined those audiences into a night that featured 'both' electronic dances as well as more experimental live shows.

We always tried to book promising artists who had never performed in Brussels before

Booking versatile, international and emerging talent is part of Club Détour’s identity. Did you feel there was a need for this, that there was a certain gap in what other clubs and collectives were offering?

Not necessarily, although we always tried to book promising artists who had never performed in Brussels before. The idea was mainly to push fresh and challenging things. Just as it's cool to book international talent, it's also great for local artists to be on a line-up together with artists from all over the world, and in that, for us, the focus was not on booking international artists who are already established, but artists who are rather at the beginning of their careers, or have just been around for a while. If we look at our old line-ups, we see that many have moved on and it's always nice when you can say, as a local artist, that you've been on a line-up with someone like that. So we wanted to offer international talent anyway, but from the beginning, the mix was important: that way we could also be a stepping stone for artists from ‘here’ and 'lift' the whole scene.

What, in your opinion, are the core principles of Club Détour? What defines the sound you guys want to bring?

In terms of sound, the 'core' is predominantly electronic, but in a broad sense: tempos and influences can vary a lot. I also think we often look for contrasts in a line-up; there should always be some live performances and producers deserve the same attention as DJ sets, so yeah, not just DJs. It's interesting to put someone who brings something danceable, then afterwards have someone play a live set that challenges the audience and also prompts them to listen – someone who doesn't cram everything into one logical progression, but just wants to push the audience to get the energy ‘down’ for a while to create a listening moment.

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In addition, the search for balance between male-female, international-local and experimental clubbing is hugely important to us. Even though we don't impose quotas on ourselves, we rather take it for granted. Also in terms of price, we try to go against the tendency to charge €20 to €30 for an event; the barrier of 10 euros is important to us and we believe it should remain affordable after all. We also always strive for equal pay, to break the ‘superstar DJ thing’: a local talent puts as much effort into his set as someone who has been in the business longer. We also always have dinner with our artists first, that way we try to transcend the nightlife a bit and get to know each other. 

All in all, Club Détour is mainly a party series. I also think people know us mainly as a 'boîte', but we never explicitly wanted to give ‘boîtes’: it was always about the musical experience and live sets that can ‘break’ the flow of a classic club night – which usually builds up to a climax – and not just grow from point A to point B.

We always have dinner with our artists first, that way we try to transcend the nightlife a bit and get to know each other

Can you explain a bit more about the name and the eye-catching visual identity? What's up with the traffic vibe?

Our original series of parties was born from the idea that most clubbing takes place in the same venues and institutions and that we wanted people to discover and explore with us the venues we chose. From that idea came ‘Détour’. Not only did we want to take a diversion physically, in terms of venues, but also in terms of music. Visually, we were also looking for something that really stood out, something that could really characterise us. That's basically how we ended up with road signs; just walk down the street and graphically a road sign has huge qualities and possibilities. In addition, all three of us also have experience and feel for graphic design; we soon came to the conclusion that this aesthetic perfectly suited our concept of a 'Détour' (diversions). After that, Jonas and Lars (@larpiebabyomg) started working on it and that's how we arrived at our visual identity. It also all coincided because our first feat was immediately a series of three events, such as a festival organised on three different dates, and we designed that as a triptych of signs, signals etc.

I can imagine the pandemic did throw a bit of ‘a spanner in the works’, in that respect you guys were unlucky with timing: FFormatt closed, your event of 13 March 2020 was cancelled and your last event is dated 10 June 2022… Do you see the collaboration with Different Class as a relaunch?

It was indeed not a smooth start (pulls out his phone); the last party of our initial triptych could not go ahead, and that was also a hugely crazy moment – until the day itself we still thought it could go ahead. On that day, we had a ‘crisis meeting’ in which we wondered whether it was responsible for going ahead with the event. Eventually, we decided to go for it, but an hour later we learned that it was no longer possible. As an alternative, we ended up playing a show at Kiosk Radio with Heartbroken (given that they also had an event planned that weekend) and assumed we could move everything up and on for a few months, but that didn’t turn out the way we expected (laughs).

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To make things even worse, we also lost our home base FFORMATT which meant we were back to square one. So it was not easy to find something new, as many venues disappeared after the pandemic. Finally, on 10 June 2022, we organised another event in Buda (Vilvoorde), where we found a bit of that feeling from in FFORMATT. Although the place had existed for a long time, many people didn't know it anymore, and it also proved to be a literal diversion ‘détour’ (laughs).

It is a good moment to let people know ‘Hey, we're back’ and besides that, it's a good preparation for what we have in store for this autumn

In the meantime, we have also been looking for new venues, and that takes time, because we don't want to give in to our insistence on picking interesting venues, nor do we want to organise parties just for the sake of ‘organising parties’. In addition, if you want to organise a quality event, you have to have quality equipment (sound system etc.) and sufficient accommodation, and that was not always possible in Brussels, which is a pity. In short, we have had a long break, but have not been idle. We hope 2023 will be the year when we can pick everything up again and get going. As for our upcoming event, we are looking forward to collaborating with Kontakt. It will be a good time to let people know 'hey, we're back' and besides that, it's a good preparation for what we have in store this autumn.

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What should we expect for May 11?

Pilar is a new venue for us, and also one that lends itself very well to live performances, so that is what we will focus on. For this, we will mainly be looking for artists who can bring the live event, complemented by a yet-to-be-announced international name. We are also looking forward to doing something on a Thursday for the first time, so we are curious to see what kind of audience it will attract. However, the live event will also be complemented by the danceable stuff, it remains Club Détour of course ;-) 

What does the future hold for Club Détour?

Well euhm, I have a scoop, but I don't know if I'm allowed to release it (laughs). Soumaya recently started as artiste associé/co-programmatrice musicale at Les Halles de Schaerbeek. Which is a place with huge potential, where we hope to forge a new collaboration just like the one we used to have with FFORMATT. I think it's a location that a lot of people know, but not necessarily as a party venue. Hopefully, we can recapture our ‘spirit' there, and make people feel like partying at a new venue for the first time because that remains something magical. Don't know if I'm allowed to divulge this, but here it is (laughs).

<div class="editorial-banner"> <div class=“editorial-credits”>@clubdetour @lodewijkg @soumayapheline @jonasmergan </div></div>

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