The Ultimate A-Z of LGBT+ in Antwerp

The Ultimate A-Z of LGBTQ in Antwerp.

A guest post by Timothy Junes

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Timothy Junes (left) was born in Antwerp (1981) and still lives and works  here. He studied journalism and has written for LGBTQ media since 2000, both online and in print. His passions include LGBTQ news stories and travelling to new places. Nowadays he runs the Flemish language LGBT news blog Be Out and the English language travel blog Trip By Trip.

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Antwerp has a long history of being a safe haven for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in Belgium. Let me introduce you, using the alphabet.

First, I’ll start with a disclaimer: this is not a ‘Complete Gay Guide to Antwerp’. That would be impossible since Pink Antwerp is constantly changing. Some blame the internet, some blame the economy and gentrification, some blame youth. There are many factors as to why LGBTQ oriented bars and cafés come and go. I should point out here that bars and cafés mostly cater to gay and bisexual men. Presently there’s no lesbian bar in town.

A

Active Company is Antwerp’s LGBTQ sports group. From athletics to swimming, from cycling to yoga, Active Company has it all. A great way to make friends.

Antwerp Pride is a highpoint of LGBTQ life in Antwerp. Four to five days to party, parade or attend a debate. Mark the second weekend of August in your calendar.

Coupled with Antwerp Pride, there is the Antwerp Queer Arts Festival. Exhibitions, performances, parties. While Antwerp Pride is more ‘party oriented’, the queer arts festival is more activist. Both work well together. First half of August.

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MAS museum lit up in Pride colours

B

The Bonaparte at the Grote Markt is a karaoke bar. But with a gay owner, it won’t surprise you there are drag nights and gay parties. Pannekoek on Sundays.

D

I’m not sure the managers of Den Draak like to call their bar a gay bar. Patrons are both LGBTQ and straight. It will throw a very gay Eurovision Song Contest viewing party, and it will also celebrate the Red Devils, Belgium’s football team.

Located at the Draakplaats, it’s very well integrated in the hipster, somewhat leftist neighbourhood of Zurenborg.

Café DeLux at Melkmarkt 16 is in the middle of it all. DeLux is what you could call a ‘mainstream gay bar’. Coffee and tea during the day, alcohol at night. Don’t forget in Belgium a café could both be a coffee and snacks place, and a bar!

E

Enig Verschil is the LGBTQ youth group of Antwerp. Flanders has a tradition of youth groups outside the scouting movement. For many LGBTQ’s in Flanders, such youth groups were a starting point.

F

Are you a student? Why not join De Flamingo’s? Student clubs in Belgium are not really like American style fraternities; they’re more open.  

H

H.I.M is a more or less monthly party concept. H.I.M is really ‘club scene’ as you’d imagine it: beats, shirtless men, flirting… People come from far and wide to attend.

The Hessenhuis at Hessenplein opened its doors in 1993. During the day it serves as the cafeteria of the event space Hessenhuis, but around 6PM the atmosphere changes and it becomes a gay bar.

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Het Roze Huis – çavaria Antwerpen (pictured above) is both a brick ‘pink house’ and an umbrella organisation for LGBTQ groups and associations in the Province of Antwerp. It organises the Antwerp Queer Arts Festival and L-week.

Each January, Het Roze Huis holds a New Year’s reception under the bridge of Draakplaats. An absolute must-attend event for LGBTQ’s in Antwerp. Beware! Due to engineering works on the bridge, the New Year’s reception will for once take place at De Roma. Mark 5 January 2019 in your calendar.

The offices are above Den Draak.

K

The Antwerp gay scene is not shy of kinky spots. The Boots in the Van Aertdtstraat and The Kinkys in de Lange Beeldekensstraat are too nice examples.

L

Leather & Fetish Pride Belgium in February accommodates lovers of leather, fetish and kinks. It consists of parties, socials and a fair. Darklands includes shops, workshops and activities for leather, fetish and kinks. If you open your eyes, you will definitely see men in leather, rubber and other fetishwear in the streets of Antwerp. The event mostly caters to men, but not exclusively.

There may not be L*-oriented bars in Antwerp but you can attend L-week in November. Ten days filled with activities, workshops and parties for women who like women. The asterisk stands for a broad interpretation of the word lesbian.

Q

Que Pasa in the Lange Koepoortstraat 1 is a latin drag queen bar. It organises performances and drag contests. It’s near one of the rainbow crossings.

R

The Red & Blue was founded in 1997. Nowadays it’s called Cargo Club but ‘Red & Blue’ remains its gay brand. It’s the obvious party location and an icon in Antwerp.

S

Sjalot & Schanul is a lesbian run restaurant behind City Hall. The address is Oude Beurs 12.  

SPEK (“bacon”) is a queer, ‘alternative’ party concept. Electro tunes, booze, cigarettes, other substances. Attracts queer, leftwing, hipster crowd.

Café Strange in the Dambruggestraat is the oldest, still open gay bar in town. Manager Armand Everaerts is well in his 80s but still serves you cheap beer. A special place.

Strangelove – A Queer Festival is a June based event. It combines film, performances and parties.

T

T-day is a day of activities, workshops and meet-ups for trans* people, their friends and their families. It is organised by çavaria, the Flemish LGBTQ umbrella organisation.

Café Twilight used to be located in the Van Schoonhovenstraat or Rue Vaseline. In the 20th century, the Rue Vaseline is where all the action happened. Twilight closed there but rose like a phoenix at Theaterplein.

U

The Unicorn Festival in July is not an exclusively gay event, but with such a name it clearly attracts LGBTQ people and their friends. Belgium is famous for its numerous summer festivals and Unicorn is one of them. It’s small but very cosy. It’s on Linkeroever (Left bank) and offers a great view of the Antwerp skyline.

 

All photos by Timothy Junes.

 

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This weekend in Antwerp: 27th, 28th & 29th October

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Pumpkins at Antwerp market (Theaterplein, Saturdays)

Here is your GOOGLE MAP for all the locations mentioned in this weekend’s post!

Plein Publiek celebrates two years at the Fierensblokken this weekend. There’s also a fair amount of Hallowe’en events on, although Hallowe’en itself falls on Tuesday.

One option for some Hallowe’en entertainment would be the BATS production of Dracula. Tickets for the 31st are sold out but there are still some left for the 28th, 29th & 30th. I have already heard very positive reviews of this production!

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Friday

Critical Mass takes place as usual for the last Friday of the month, and this is a special edition for children and young cyclists. Be aware that this route will, however, comprise three sites where cyclists have been killed in accidents lately in Antwerp, so that flowers can be laid at these places. If you’re a cyclist, do be especially careful as the weather gets darker, and especially at crossings (all the recent fatalities occurred at crossings).

Saturday

The Antwerp Fire Services celebrate their 200th birthday with an open door day at their main depot on Noorderlaan, between 9.30 am- 5pm. Ideal for a visit if you have a child who aspires to be a fire-fighter.

It’s the legendary An Sibhin Hallowe’en Quiz! General knowledge quiz in fancy dress, in English. Teams of max. 5 players – 5€ per person entry. The quiz starts at 8pm.
Reserve your team by messaging the An Sibhin Facebook page  or in person at the bar.

London Calling are celebrating 50 Years of Sergeant Pepper at Ampere! SuperEarly bird tickets are sold out but a few early birds are left at 7 euros… Otherwise it’s 11 euros. DOORS OPEN: 10.30

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Sunday

There is a free Dia de los Muertos event at MAS museum from 3pm on the 8th floor. It is suggested that visitors bring a photo or object that evokes the memory of a lost loved one.  There’s music, and a free visit to the expo on the 8th floor, as well as some activities for children.

The weather this weekend is likely to be mixed with showers (particularly on Sunday) and maximum temperatures of around 15 degrees.
Miscellaneous

Wednesday 1st November is a public holiday (All Saints) and there will be a Goegekregen Rommelmarkt all day (9am- 6pm) on Theaterplein.

On MONDAY 30th Oct: I’m looking forward to pressing another guest post – this time from Laura, an Italian who lives in Antwerp and is the the writer of Nonnative blog

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Don’t forget to get in touch via nessascityblog@gmail.com if you would like to write a post telling your Antwerp story.

I have also guest-blogged for Nonnative. Read my restaurant review here.

Antwerp has been included in the Lonely Planet Top Ten Cities for 2018!

For kids: you may be pleased to know that the indoor playground above Mercado (Groenplaats) has re-opened. It will be open on Saturdays and Sundays (and during school holidays) from 10am- 6pm and on Wednesdays from 1pm -6pm.

Find me on social media, where additional events and locations are also posted:

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New Year’s Eve 2015

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Wishing you a very happy 2016

Just in time for New Year’s Eve, here’s a brief run-down of what is available in Antwerp this year. I am not going to attempt to do a full clubs-and-pubs guide, particularly for very expensive ticketed events, as they are generally fairly easy to find out about. Here’s the usual low-budget/ free local selection, which I will continue to edit, where necessary, for the next day or so. So if you are someone who tends to make spontaneous and last-minute plans for the last party of the year, do check back for updates.

The weather is predicted to continue dry and mild on New Year’s Eve in Antwerp. There may be a little cloud and light rain in the evening.

The most obvious public destination for midnight is the Schelde for the fireworks. Turn up at 11pm for a free concert -it all happens around Steenplein and Zuiderterras. Drinks will be for sale; do not bring any glass drink containers into the area. The Christmas market will also be busy with Grote Markt likely being a good location for the bars, but Christmas market stalls are now only on Groenplaats. If you are staying in or at a house party and wanting to count down,  Een on TV will be at the river side.

Bar Lucy will be having a free party from 10 pm, as will Café au Lait.

Jazz and swing fans wishing to get away from it all may enjoy this event for which they will need to reserve.

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MAS

 

There will be a party at Café Storm (MAS) for 15 euros. You need to reserve here (20 tickets left at time of writing this!).

Den Beulebak also has a 10 euro entry fee for a musical evening from 10pm (a more expensive ticket includes dinner).

 

 

 

 

….And down on the site of the Petrol Club there are a few events going  on which are also more reasonably priced and for which you can reserve tickets here.

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Also more reasonably priced (12 euros pre-sale; 15 on the door) is this Jamaican style party night at Kavka on Oudaan.

Stay safe, have fun -see you in 2016 for more weekly updates in English about events and activities in the city.

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Hallowe’en Special!

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Increasingly, Hallowe’en is a festival that adults like to make a night of, rather than being solely an opportunity for kids to dress up.

During the day, however, if zombies are your thing there will be a Zombie Walk. Assemble in appropriate attire on Kammenstraat at 2pm. The parade will conclude with a free drink courtesy of Cafe Congé.

If you are heading out  in the evening sans enfants, you may find that the Irish bars in Antwerp are the ones which are most keen to celebrate Hallowe’en. I’m hyperlinking to their webpages, but if you are on Facebook, you might find more up-to-date information on the page of each pub there.

As previously mentioned An Sibhin on the Nationalestraat will be holding their Hallowe’en Quiz on the 29th this year (Thursday), to make space for the Rugby Final on the 31st itself. This will be shown on the pub’s big screen and is a popular and lively place to watch games.

On Friday you can join the Critical Mass cycling movement for a Hallowe’en Themed Bike Ride. Assemble on Theaterplein at 6. The bike ride concludes at Park Spoor Noord where there will be snacks and hot drinks.

On the 31st,  The Irish Times on Grote Markt will be showing the game too, and also having a Hallowe’en Dress-Up night.

Kelly’s  on Keyserlei (the street leading up to the main entrance of Antwerp Central Station) always goes a bundle for Hallowe’en, and it will be a busy night there.

On the Rijnkaai for free you can dance until late to a indie/ rock/ Britpop at London Calling Hallowe’en Special.

The Highlander Café will also be having a Hallowe’en part, starting at 9pm.

If you are looking to buy a pumpkin, I recommend the Saturday market, on Theaterplein. They usually still have them, even if you have left it to the last minute!

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Antwerp Market

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Enjoy your Hallowe’en. If you are taking your kids Trick or Treating, have fun and stay safe.