LAST UPDATE: 21st March 2018
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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…
In Brussels (and probably in many other cities around the World), the Golden Age of clubs is over.
But there are 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” is the type of terms you’ll find in any description of 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? The Spirito and Mirano Continental (even though this one is now closed, but its future is still unsure. they are renovating the venue, but we don’t know yet if the new owner will transform the place into a shop or keep it as a club…).
That said, those two venues are amazing: Spirito used to be a Church, Mirano is a former cinema theater from the 30’s.
The Bloody Louis attracts a young crowd and there’s often a very long queue at the entrance.
Another club is well known for many years (in the location since 1989!) is called Jeux d’Hiver, and it’s 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 LGBTQIA 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 offers retro-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!
The Gay community has a long habit of enjoying a dedicated night on Sundays. For instance the You Gay Tea Dance (at the You), or monthly La Demence parties (at the Fuse). Most of the LGBTQI nightlife is held in specific bars or parties, like Sunset Club (at rue des Riches Claires), Chez Maman, Cabaret Mademoiselle, I can only advice you to go to the Rainbow House for more info. I also refer – here under – to some parties in the communities.
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!
Very close to the Grand Place you’ll find the Zodiak. They have a great program, nice crowd and the price is ok, 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 Barrio, in the Marolles, always seem to have great parties going on. so check their agenda to find out what they are 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!
The alternative scene has the Barlok: a big warehouse at the Canal. They usually have a very rich program: concerts, exhibition sometimes and that goes on quite late at night. It might be good to know that the occupation in the warehouse is not going to last as the whole area (together with the Magasin 4, the concert venue nearby and AlleeduKaai) is going to become a park…
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.
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 a 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!
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 and the Café Floréo has always something going on too.
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”…
Let’s talk about the “flemish quarter”: in Sint Kathelijnstraat, the Bar des Amis and Café Monk always find their own patrons who seem to have a lot of fun. If you take the Vlaamsesteenweg, heading to the canal, there are few great bars like Roskam, Daringman and at the end point (despite its name) the Midpoint is a great spot. That’s also where the Café Walvis is situated.
In the same area, the Kumiko is often offering party and concerts’ nights.
It’s worth mentioning the many other bars in the Sint-Jacobs Wijk: that is where most of the LGBTQIA venues are situated (even if I have the impression that is more the “G” represented than any other letter)…
– 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 weeknights, with bars like le Tavernier, Waff, L’Atelier, le Gauguin 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 sometimes.
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 they’re still awake till late if not early the next morning.
Bar Rouge: was one of the most infamous bars in town at a time (many years ago). It’s a very small bar, now in the center. I don’t recall that it was 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 (and didn’t try it since they moved)… but I hear from time to time that the place is still running and well!
In the Flagey area, 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! Its neighbor, the Black Sheep Brussels attracts an English speaking crowd and offers cocktails and imported beers… They seem to have fun long after work hours on Friday nights.
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.
A group of people get together and decide to organize a party. They have an idea: a certain type of music that they like may be 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!
The most popular ones in Brussels are Libertine Supersport, Leftorium, Anti Tapas, Strictly Niceness, Los Ninos, Zukunft, Catclub, Opus, Last Days Of, ..: if you like the DJ’s Temples type of clubs. Recently the parties Giraffes & Penguins were launched by Rebel Up.
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 LGBTQIA community will love the Dansez-Vous Français parties, Bénédictions parties at Benelux, or, if you’re looking for the alternative equivalent, you should check the soirées Chaudière.
It’s possible to 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 event’s 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!
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 too, not to mention Uccle!
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 are 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!
Cover Picture: taken in Berlin – July 2014