[Blog] Superdiversity in Antwerp: The night club experience

08-07-2013 | Steven Clark

Maybe the lack of intercultural experience by some can very easily be turned into a kind of fear of the unknown

During my 4 months in Antwerp I have had a great time in many late night bars, cafes and nightclubs. I have had an amazing time and really love the Antwerp culture, in particular some of the differences and contrasts with the Scottish partying culture. For example I love the fact that the cafes, bars and clubs are all open much, much later, have a mixture of different age groups and table service. One of my favourite differences is that, so far, I have found nobody vomiting in a night club corner, starting violent fights or lying unconscious in a pool of their own urine on the street outside a night club. At 3am in Scotland it can be seriously difficult to walk outside night clubs without steeping into vomit, drunken bodies or getting into a fight from excessively drunk individuals and groups.

In the short time I have been here my impression - which of course could be very wrong - is that people over here seems to drink a lot more, sometimes all day, yet are able to pace themselves so as to not get into the mess that is so common and even enjoyed back in Scotland. Belgians and perhaps Europeans seem to be able to pace themselves with intoxicants much more.

However a couple of observations have raised my attention as well. I have met some very friendly Flemish girls and boys who are very nice and have taken great efforts to show us where the good times are and generally ensure we have enjoyed ourselves. One club they have taken us to is Cafe D'Anvers, which I think is an amazing night clubs with very cool music.

Before going into Cafe D'Anvers for the first time one very nice Flemish girl told me that she always puts a ring onto her wedding finger to give the impression that she is married. This is because lots of men, in particular Moroccans and Turkish, she said, can be very disrespectful and hostile towards Flemish or white girls in their pursuit of imitate solicitations. Having no reason to doubt her I accepted what she said but also wanted to wait and see for myself, having heard similar opinions about other cultures back in Aberdeen which actually proved to be untrue.

From my own admittedly very short impression I have seen it to actually be a mixture of cultures who are hitting on girls, none of them in an disrespectful way although I am sure this does happen, alcohol can make nice people do bad things. To be frank I have found that this problem is much worse back in Scotland, where it is an even mix of cultures who get drunk and disrespect girls while out in night clubs.

This observation made me think that what this very nice girl told me was actually likely largely untrue and in fact caused by a Flemish girl simply having no real experience with other cultures. So she believes the rumour that other men from other cultures are different and in fact worse than her others. 

The Flemish girl also told me that Moroccan and Turkish girls generally do not go to night clubs apart from occasionally in large groups. This made me think maybe this is why it is usually Flemish girls that are more commonly approached by men of all cultures in the clubs.

The fact that I was warned about the behaviour of other cultures from a Flemish individual seems to me to be a metaphor of the Belgium culture problem. Maybe the lack of intercultural experience by some can very easily be turned into a kind of fear of the unknown.

 >>> Steven Clark and Missale Solomon, two Scottish intern at Kif Kif will blog about the Superdiversity in Antwerp, their host city. Read Missale's first blog here, Steven's first blog here