I went to see Hans’ new space today, which I’d heard about from Anuschka just before coming to Brussels. It sounded like a lot of work; basement machine shop with decades of oil and other dance-unfriendly substances leeched into concrete to be turned into SOIT’s rehearsal space. It also sounded like it could be one of those fringe shoehorning of artistic necessity into somewhere that works but is always slightly at odds. After all, basement mechanic’s workshop and “The ceiling’s not really that low” …
Turns out to be beautiful.
One street back from the canal near Nord Station in an early-ish Modernist building now turned over to ateliers and studios, of the concrete type with massive metal-framed windows; the long side faces south and any sun is unhindered by adjacent buildings as it’s just parkland all the way to the next street.
The descent is perilous, around a tight and dark concrete spiral staircase into the washroom, and then, opening the door, even though the windows are high on the wall, there is more than enough light. Hans and the others working on it have wedged a couple of opening windows in as replacements, and a trio of extractor fans from a chicken farm as well.
The floor, having been thoroughly stripped is even sprung; a combination of wooden panels resting on thick slats, in turn resting on three layers of rubber tiles acquired as throw-aways from a Metro station. Carpet from another source will sandwich between that and the tarkett.
Hans and Joe were still laying this when I arrived, and there’s still a lot of work to be done before it opens, and the photos don’t really do justice to the size, but it’s easily big enough for a group to work in, and the ceiling really isn’t that low, and for winter there will be some heaters.
Which is to say I’m very envious and inspired, and also very happy Hans and SOIT now have a home. It’s beautiful.