Mothers & Daughters // Brussels gets a lesbian bar, and so much more
In early May 2018, behind a jumble of corroded neon signs touting a long-departed Greek restaurant, a group of artists and activists opened something Brussels hadn’t seen for 15 years: a bar by and for the city’s lesbian community. Mothers & Daughters is its name.
On the lash with Baudelaire // A literary pub crawl through Brussels (Act One)
Brussels throughout its history has been called home by many writers and artists, from Victor Hugo to the Brontë sisters, through to James Joyce and Hugo Claus. Some of them have been temporary visitors, others permanent, and many reluctant. Nobody exemplified this genre of Brussels resident better than Frenchman and serial flâneur Charles Baudelaire. Prompted by an exhibition about Baudelaire’s ill-fated time in Brussels organised on the Grand Place, I set off on a tour, in his and others footsteps, of what remains of Brussels’ literary haunts.
Brussels Irish // The James Joyce: last call for the Irish pub?
The green-and-gold door looks closed, but a tug on the brass lion doorknob and it pulls open. Inside, the lights are off in the back and there is no evidence of any customers or staff. It’s Saturday evening just past seven and the James Joyce, Brussels’ oldest Irish bar is still. Almost thirty years after it opened, is Brussels’ oldest Irish bar on the way out?
Drinking in Ganshoren // A cabaret of the unreal
A man walks into a bar, followed behind by his daughter. They exchange a few words in muttered French. A couple ahead of them – man with his arm in a sling, woman fussing over the drinks menu – order their beers in Dutch and take a seat at a rickety wooden table. This is La Charnière, a rudimentary café housed in an 18th century Brussels farmhouse
Alors on Zwanze
In all the years I’ve lived in Brussels, and as long as Cantillon have been organising their annual Zwanze celebration, I’ve never been organised enough to buy tickets for the main event at Moeder Lambic Fontainas before they have sold out. 2017 was no different. That is how we found ourselves schlepping up the hills of St. Gilles on Saturday evening to the original Moeder Lambic.
Drinking in Koekelberg // The past, and a future?
Change comes slowly to Brussels. But it is coming to the corner of Brussels where the unfashionable communes of Koekelberg, Jette, and Ganshoren meet at Parc Elisabeth in a jigsaw puzzle of municipal borders. Hotel Restaurant Taverne Le Frederiksborg and Bar Eliza represent old and new Brussels, and show in their contrasting fortunes how accelerating demographic changes are reshaping the neighbourhood. They also serve beer.