Brussels goes Kafka

Article published on June 18, 2010
Article published on June 18, 2010
Where Rue Auguste Orts turns into the famous Rue Antoine Dansaert; just at the intersection with Rue de Poissonniers, you can find Café Kafka. Café Kafka is a bar in the very heart of Brussels, near La Bourse, the Stock Exchange.
With a varied programme - live performances be it Tango, Classical music or Jazz, exhibitions, literary performances and more-, Café Kafka attracts a wide range of visitors. Cafebabel Brussels went to see what more the bar has to offer...

One size up

Founded in 1985, Café Kafka has been entertaining people with drinks, live performances and exhibitions for 25 years already. And in those 25 years, some things have changed of course. Not so much in terms of atmosphere or decorations, but more in terms of owner and address. Café Kafka was established by a certain woman named Karina. Because her partner in life also had a passionate love for Kafka and his writings next, she decided to turn her bar into a Kafka-mecca, literary contests being part of the deal. But, 7 years later, Karina was sick and tired of running a bar and that is where Patrice, current owner of the bar, comes in.

In 1992, Patrice took over the bar after having been there with friends only a couple of times. Because he liked the bar and its Kafka-concept, he decided to keep it just the way it was. Even when they moved the bar to a different address, Patrice wanted to keep the decorations intact. Only, the new place was much bigger, so he decided to rebuild the whole place, copying and preserving the authentic look the old place had: wooden panels, Kafka portraits, etc.

A varied programme, a varied audience

Even though the bar has changed owners, was moved 87 yards and was completely refurnished, it's surprinsing to know it has not changed that much: the interior was kept the same and the literary performances are still held. Over the years though, it's previously large Flemish audience has turned into a more varied audience. "Earlier, 95% of the people coming here were Dutch-speaking. Now, that number has dropped a lot, to somewhat 65%, I'd say," Patrice tells me.

What events can you expect in Café Kafka? The answer is simple: just about anything! From puppet shows to poetry and literature readings, from dance performances to live band performances and exhibitions. The bar organises these events itself, but ever since last year, it has also become one of the bars Stoemp! organises its free concerts at. That way, new and upcoming bands such as Amatorski from Gent (you may well have heard their song Come Home on your radio) or experienced singers such as Rudi Trouvé from Antwerp, have already performed in Café Kafka. A grasp of what to expect next? Marble Soul (28th of September), Al Copley (30th of September), Le Comptoir du désir (13th of October) and "a Brazillian Evening".

And Café Kafka organises its own 'special evenings' as well. Every last Monday of the month, there is 'De sprekende ezels' ('The talking Donkeys') which offers amateurs a stage for word, music, comedy,... Every last Wednesday of the month, a 10-headed swing band called Bend-it, is there to fill the place with vibrant music and every last Friday of the month, Café Kafka goes tango. But the bar also has an extra room upstairs (which you can reach by taking an old, winding staircase - dark red). Exhibitions are held there occasionally, but Patrice also lets fanfares or children's parties take place there for free. If you want to organise your own private party, the room is yours for a small contribution only.

Cafe Kafka2 Any of this sound like something you absolutely have to experience yourself? Bring out the culture vulture inside of you and pass by Café Kafka! Rue de Poissonniers, 21.