All about Stammbar
It's a cozy and warm venue with an industrial decor made of wood and metal. Stammbar will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. Masterfully run by Fred, this space of freedom is already an institution in Brussels nightlife. Let's meet the owner.
Behind a discreet facade, after ringing the doorbell to be able to enter, you discover Stammbar. If this is your first time, the cloakroom staff will be happy to remind you of the rules and codes specific to the establishment. Here, respect and friendliness are the key words and woe to those who do not comply. Next to the bar with its dance floor, always very lively on weekend evenings, a cruising area in the dark pushes the limits. Stammbar is the place of all possibilities and fantasies whether you come alone or accompanied!
A place for everyone
“Stamm's philosophy has always been to position itself in favor of freedoms. Initially, as a cruising place, our idea was to promote sexual freedom, without necessarily including gender freedoms and relationships within the community. However, the difficult period caused by the Covid-19 pandemic allowed me to take the time to meet and collaborate with people from different backgrounds. This experience opened my eyes to the needs and gaps we had from the beginning.”
Today, men and women, cisgender and transgender, queer and non-binary, everyone blends in perfect harmony. If all goes well, it is also because society is changing. Where we tolerated the differences of others' differences before, we now accept and respect them. Fred invests a lot of himself to facilitate the change of mentalities.
“I had already had a debate about people traveling to Berlin to frequent clubs such as the Berghain, without having any problem with the mix. The question then arose as to why these same people were reluctant to the idea of diversity in their own city, Brussels. I thought Stammbar probably had a role to play in promoting diversity and openness. An attack on a transgender friend was also a trigger that made me think about the role we should play, as well as the importance not of educating, but of leading. We have therefore decided to be proactive by organizing dedicated evenings which have the effect of strengthening our position in favor of diversity and inclusion.”
Trust, caring and understanding
Within the LGBTQIA+ spheres, we have seen the emergence of more and more places described as safe spaces. This term is used to define a place allowing people who are usually marginalized, because of one or more affiliations to certain social groups, to meet in complete safety in a process of empowerment far from negative reactions. Hearing Fred talk about what he is trying to build with his bar, we could say that Stammbar is a safe space.
“It’s true that defining what a safe space is is a complex and subjective question, which depends on the experience of each person. For my part, I consider that a safe space is based on respect for others and for oneself. By learning to respect each other, both in our human relationships and in our sexual and consumer behaviors, we are able to set clear boundaries to protect our personal integrity, dignity and psychological well-being.”
“In this, self-esteem plays a crucial role. By respecting and valuing ourselves, we can set boundaries that allow us to feel safe, protect ourselves from harmful situations, and face challenges in a positive way. It also impacts our ability to build healthy and respectful relationships with others, integrating these core principles into our social interactions.”
We said it from the beginning of this article: respect is a fundamental key word at Stammbar because we are human after all. Fred returns here to this subject and even insists on it. It’s not uncommon to see customers set the record straight with another disrespectful visitor without any intervention from the staff.
“A safe space is a place that puts this philosophy of self-esteem and mutual respect into practice. It makes it possible to permanently redefine human relationships, vulnerability and group consciousness, by promoting an environment where everyone can feel comfortable and safe to be themselves. In other words, a safe space is a place where trust, caring and understanding reign supreme.”
An artistic place
Stammbar, it’s also musical, artistic and community events throughout the year. The program is very rich and very varied. Above all, it highlights talents, especially local talents.
“It feels good to feel and hear that Stammbar has a strong musical reputation through its programming. I grew up in a very diverse musical environment, thanks to my mother who is a rock fan and my two sisters who have very different musical tastes. It shaped my musical appreciation and influenced programming choices within our venue. I had the chance to meet great people through music, like Bart (aka RedD), Alberto (FreedomB) and especially Thom Leblanc, all DJs who bring real added value to our musical selection. They also contributed to the discovery of new artists and sometimes succeeded in surprising me.”
Fred fully trusts these artists. He’s particularly proud of the close collaboration that has been forged between them and the bar. Fred doesn’t rest on the achievements and remains proactive to guarantee a permanent renewal to his loyal customers.
“This year, we’ve launched a collaboration with Alberto who will be our "agent" in Berlin. We have long discussions about Berlin music and the importance of the local scene. Although I don’t wish to appropriate the label of the Berlin scene, I’m convinced that there’s a card to play in the relationship between our two cities and I’m open to new collaborations in this direction.”
“As far as artistic and community programming is concerned, I am especially attached to meetings and exchanges, which make it possible to enrich our offer and to offer more varied evenings. We are open to collaborations with local or international artists who share our values of inclusion, respect and diversity. We are also listening to feedback from our community to continue to improve our programming.”
In a recent poll, customers also underlined the quality of the musical events offered and favored the return of a terrace formula as some experienced during the covid period. The survey had shown their interest in the naked afternoons and evenings already organized.
New things to come?
“Stammbar is a place of constant surprises, where the effect of discovery is favored to create an atmosphere of well-being and conviviality. We like to maintain this element of mystery in our programming, while listening to the desires of our community. We are open to collaborations and partnerships with players in the cultural and associative life who share our values of respect and inclusion and sometimes this is done in a very fortuitous way, as two years ago for the release of a magazine where we transformed our door into a giant anus, for one evening. We look forward to seeing you discover the events and meetings that will take place at Stammbar. As a place of life and sharing, we are particularly proud to be associated with symbolic events such as Pride, which is an important moment of visibility and fight for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people. We are happy to participate in this event which celebrates diversity and inclusion, and we hope that this will be the start of a great adventure with committed partners.”
“In particular, I would like to highlight the pioneering role of Visit Brussels, which has long understood that diversity and the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people are key elements of a city's quality of life. Their commitment to LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the tourism sector is an example for many other cities to follow.”
“I would also like to highlight the involvement of the merchants' association Brussels Rainbow Village (former Syndigay), which actively participates in all these initiatives put in place. The collaboration between the different bars also stems from this collective work. I think it's important to emphasize that all these advances are the result of collaborative work, and I hope to be able to continue contributing to this positive dynamic in my city and elsewhere.”
In the coming weeks, the Rue du Marché au Charbon (or Kolenmarkt) will also be the scene of many events, first around the Eurovision theme and then on the occasion of Brussels Pride. Obviously, Stammbar will be there alongside the other establishments in the district.