Isabel, Camilla, Lola, Ariana, Marieke, Aleksandra, Nel, Tanja and Marie. Meet the members of the Burenhinder collective. Their name is a legal term, best translated as neighborly or private nuisance, and got stuck in Ariana’s head during her law studies. Being the exact reason why many clubs have to close their doors, Burenhinder felt like the perfect name for their own club night. As some kind of a warning of what was about to happen…
The term also holds a subversiveness, widening the shoulders while saying ‘here we are’. There is a direct link with the politics behind the collective, with their shared philosophy and point of view on what’s going on out there, in the world, in the clubs and the DJ booths. And last but not least Burenhinder stands for the music propagated by the collective, which is mostly hard dance music played at a certain amount of decibels. Curious as we are, we meet up with six Burenhinder members in the garden of Trix in Antwerp, the location of their first party ever.
I was wondering, did Burenhinder start from a protest?
Camilla: At the start, a feeling of protest and revolt was very present. We wanted to make a statement in the scene, not only as an all-female rave collective in the most inclusive form of the term female, but also as a club night and DJ collective that is able to play really, really loud music.
When was this?
Ariana: We started in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis. Being a bit fed up with the male dominated scene, the idea of hosting an all-female live stream had come to my mind. After some research and reaching out to people, Burenhinder quickly took form with these lovely creatures that are still part of the collective. On International Women’s Day in March 2021, we set up camp in the toilets of Kafka Zappa. As toilets are often the spot where female clubbers gather most during a club night, as the ideal location for girl talk but also a place to feel protected, this felt appropriate for our live stream. We decorated the toilets really nicely.
The visual identity of Burenhinder is just as important as the music, right?
Ariana: Most definitely! At the very start, we went for a lot of pink and Barbie themed visuals, as we wanted to juxtapose these female clichés with our beloved hard dance music genre. As Camilla already mentioned, our founding was an act of protest.
Can you tell me more about this urgency to protest?
Ariana: As a female DJ, it was and still is really hard to create a persona where you aren’t identified by your femininity. Imagine joining a mixed collective, which once again makes you the female of the pack. With Burenhinder, it’s only about us. We are able to present ourselves as we are, without the gender related stereotyping.
Camilla: I only started to DJ after Burenhinder had been created, but I know for a fact that the DJs among us that were active before, all had numerous bad experiences being tokenized or not being taken seriously. Men trying to explain to us how DJing works, they still exist, you know.
Ariana: Or yet another male DJ saying that you were only booked on a line-up because you have breasts.
Why do you think this era in history, just after a global pandemic, is the perfect timing for the growth of a provoking collective such as Burenhinder?
Lola: Our love for hard music styles, much faster and louder than before, is definitely a sign of the times. Many articles have described the rise of a new generation listening to harder electronic dance music since Covid-19. I remember our very first events, when dancing wasn’t actually allowed yet. People were in such a desperate need to dance, there was no way we could force them to obediently stay seated. There was a feeling of revolt. At our first party when dancing was allowed again, we were just overwhelmed. The crowd’s reaction was incredible.
Why do you think harder dance music was the perfect fit for this resurrection?
Lola: We had so many emotions to deal with. And we had missed each other, after such a long time living secluded in lockdowns. A lot of energy stacked in our bodies had to be released.
Camilla: We never consciously decided to play hard music though. We didn’t brainstorm about it. These were simply the music genres we enjoyed listening to most at the time.
Lola: For me, starting with Burenhinder meant to harden my musical identity as a DJ, to deepen my love for the hard dance music genre. It felt good to play hard music, as the most fitting music for the statement we wanted to make.
Isabel: Ariana, Marieke and I were clubbers at hard dance events since a very long time. But the line-ups were always very male dominated. The audience was actually already queer and female and that’s why we felt we needed parties with a more queer and woman friendly environment.
Ariana: We went to Schtampfen, Minus One or Chinastraat in Ghent to party, long before the genre was hyped and had its rebirth. I used to go out on techno music before, but hearing Casual Gabberz play was pivotal for me.
How do you experience this hard dance music hype?
Camilla: This summer, we were given the opportunity to play at some of the big summer festivals all over Belgium. Sometimes I’m a bit afraid that people aren’t going to understand what we do. But the opposite is true. When we played at Tomorrowland or Rock Herk this summer, the crowd went nuts. So many people appreciate experimental hard dance, even if they don’t exactly know what they are listening to.
Marieke: I’m sure that when you ask someone if they like hard dance, they will answer negatively, until you put them in front of a sound system.
Lola: Don’t forget that all the harder dance music genres have always been around in various scenes before. Tomorrowland for example has been booking hard dance DJs since the beginning. But today, so many genres and influences are being mixed. Hard dance is part of the mainstream now. There is even a genre called meme techno now, which mixes internet memes with hard techno music.
How do you relate to the history and the founding members of the hard dance scene?
Ariana: They sometimes come to our parties and they seem to like it. But in general, we aren’t in touch with the older members of the scene. We are too new and different, I guess.
Camilla: We definitely aren’t a return of the gabber collective. Our musical identity is composed of a multitude of influences and styles coming from all over the world.
Ariana: I don’t see a gabber dancing to reggaeton.
Lola: It’s quite hard for us to book the founding members of the hard dance scene, since they are all men.
Ariana: And our visual identities differ a lot. The traditional scene isn’t as attracted to Barbie pink as we are.
Lola: We aren’t purists. I would shit my pants when booked on a traditional hardcore line-up. Initially, we didn’t educate ourselves diving deep into the history of the scene. We just bumped into a certain type of music that we love and play at parties, with influences coming from literally everywhere.
The perfect breeding ground for innovation, when people aren’t blocked by prescribed rules.
You have been hosting workshops on how to create a safer space in clubs and on dance floors. And you shared a manifesto for your own parties. Why?
Ariana: Our manifesto was written on a blue monday in De Muze, a jazz bar at de Melkmarkt in Antwerp. It had been in our heads for a long time and that night was translated to paper. We felt we had to share it with the world, since too many things were happening that we didn’t agree with.
Is fighting for a safer space in nightlife still as important today as compared to a few years ago, when the urgency for a safer nightlife was first launched, a direct result of the #metoo movement?
Marieke: It’s still very relevant. There has been a change in awareness though.
Ariana: Many things have changed in the scene, partly due to our own hard work and the changes we were able to accomplish at venues we collaborate closely with. But since we started engaging with these topics, we have also suffered from disappointments and failures on more than a few occasions. It hurts when people make promises but in the end can’t keep them. We started with idealism and in good faith, but to be honest, I lost hope. I’m fed up with investing energy in those who perform acts of window dressing. They ticked the boxes of a safer space, but in reality nothing changed.
Lola: Our own events are dealt with all the care in the world. But we stopped taking responsibility for the rest of the world. You can still ask for our opinions, but it’s not our job.
Camilla: It’s not only about writing a manifesto and putting up posters in your club. I think it’s essential to provide aftercare, prevention simply doesn’t exist. But in reality, I don’t see much dedicated caretaking staff in clubs. There is usually no one assigned specifically to help people and signal issues. On top of that, victims are often being blamed instead of the perpetrator.
Sexism and harassment is a problem that is obviously much larger than the clubbing scene. How do you see this evolve in the future?
Ariana: Change is a process that will take many years, I think at least until the older generations have been filtered out and the new generations have learned ways to do better, hopefully.
Camilla: I can sometimes be surprised when I leave my personal bubble, a network of mostly experimental clubs where more progressive policy is being applied. I joined some friends in a commercial club the other day and only 10 minutes later I was harassed twice, by people of my age. I still feel uncomfortable when I wear a short skirt in public, because guaranteed someone will whistle or yell at me.
Isabel: For such a long time, such intrusive behavior has been seen as part of nightlife, as some collateral damage. With Burenhinder we wish to create a version of nightlife where the opposite is true. As a society, that’s where we need to head towards.
What brings the future for Burenhinder?
Ariana: We have been granted a residency at Recyclart in Brussels. We are looking forward to growing our community in the capital. We are also trying a less is more philosophy. Less big raves, which is something we really have mastered so far. And more live music events, exhibitions and other qualitative gatherings.
Marieke: We hope to continue growing and add new dimensions to our collective, stimulating and inspiring women and FLINTA artists.
We wish you all the best!