Goodbye to Kiekenmarkt 7

Posted: December 18, 2015 in History
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Siempre Vort'n Vis

Since the early days the activities of the Autonoom Jongeren Centrum (AJC; autonomous youth-centre) were taking place in the pub (and the ‘barn’) located at Kiekenmarkt 7 (Ieper/Ypres). The name would later be changed into Autonoom Regionaal Trefcentrum (ART; autonomous meeting-centre). In the spring of 2001 (April/May) the non-profit organisation was forced to move because the brewery that they rented the pub from, didn’t wanna continue the lease.

The (concert-)history we’re trying to give here is from the early beginnings to the moment of this move. As Jan Claus, co-founder, puts it: it spans the period of right before the fall of the Berlin Wall (89-11-09; the Iron Curtain was opened 89-05-02 in Hungary) until a bit before 9-11 (which was in 2001)… The foundation of the association was 89-05-21 and a month before that, the opening of the pub.

VV verhuis 2001the ‘second’ generation saying goodbye to Kiekenmarkt 7

They moved to a new location (which they bought June 2003) at Sint-Jacobsstraat 3, a small kilometre away. That building was in a poor condition so they decided to tear it down and rebuild it. There’s a main building and a multi-functional (concert-) venue (and rehearsal-space) in the back. They got some subsidy from the Flemish government but a lot of the costs of the reconstruction (which the collaborators are doing themselves) is payed for by donations and benefits. During this, activities were taking place in a TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone) @ Diksmuidseweg 59, where they’d moved to December 2012.


from the V.V. website at the time:



Yper, 1 Mei 2001

Yes, this time for real: we will move to another place. Normally we had to leave already the old building on 31 August 2000. But your public support with petitions and letters, the decreasing prices of buildings in Ieper after the L&H [Lernout & Hauspie] -debacle, the positive reactions of local authorities on our future plans for an autonomous regional meetingcentre, and the efforts of several VV-cooperators (thanx alot to all of them with special thanx to Nutje) made we’ve got already 2 times a delay of our departure. It gave us more time for negotiations for a final solution for our housing problem. We’ve even got the opportunity to buy the old building, but the price was too high for us and in the meanwhile we’ve found a better alternative. Now it’s really time to say goodbye to the good old building where we’ve spended nearly 12 years of our life. We will move from the Kiekenmarkt 7 to the Sint-Jacobsstraat 3 where several VV-cooperators are now busy to fix the new pub (thanx alot to all of them with special thanx to Steph Q, Noten and Nathalie M).

In April/May 1989 we were looking for a building for our new independent meeting center. We wanted a freeplace for progressive people in our then very conservative Westhoek region. We founded our organization on 21 May 1989 and opened our pub on 23 June 1989. So, the “Vort’n Vis” is the oldest pub of the pub square in this neighborhood. Our first gig ever in this building was on 9 July 1989 with Dreft, Silly Old Fart and Pietje Roze Konin en de 7 Gesprietjes. A bit later we also declared the Republyk Vort’n Vis independent from Belgium on 1 April 1990. The last gig in our old building will be on 11 May 2001 with Thee Plague Of Gentlemen, Sad Origin, 5 Day Getaway, The Deal and Kingpin. Nice to know: some of the same people who played 12 years ago too at the first gig in this building are playing now in some of the last bands who will play there. The day after, on 12 May 2001, we will move with a procession from the old to the new building. We will move officially our bar, stage, public seat, music instruments, etc. Maybe there will be also some musical acts. We ask you to help moving us these things and to enjoy the procession. When reached the new building we will start the first night and the first gig in our new building with Hypnos69.

We look back with mixed feelings to the old building where we spended nearly 12 years of our life.

Sometimes we had very bad times there. We saw lots of black snow. We had problems with authorities (2 weeks locked “because of noise”, razzias, arbitrary penalties, …) and with the landlord. We had financial problems and put our last money in it while we were robbed from people we’ve trusted. We had long winter-times without heating which made it was colder inside than outside. We had lots of stupid quarrels, conflicts and insinuations. There was intolerance and narrowmindness. Sometimes people expected too much from us, more than we ever could give. And we ourselves made lots of faults too because of lack of experience and sometimes too much pressure. Most tragic was an accident on our Leed Vistival in September 1997 when somebody with a heart-disease fell dead from stage.
But we had our good times too there. We had great gigs with great bands and especially great people. We’ve met lots of people from far countries that we never shouldn’t have met without “De Vort’n Vis”. And we made friendships for life with lots of them. The most mornings after the gigs were great. Then lots of visitors had a “morning after headache” and it was quiet enough for a talk with the people who were left. It learned us alot. And we had lots of fun too. With all those hundreds or even thousands of bands who played there during these 12 years. Or with collapsing stages and walls during an enthusiast gig while hundreds of people were screaming out their lungs with as much enthusiasm. Or with snoring visitors with ‘stinky cheese’ feet who crashed out after a gig. Or with a smoke show that filled the whole building with smoke. Everybody had to go outside and even the band had to stop playing because of too much smoke. And passerbys thought that the Vort’n Vis was on fire. :-)

Goodbye, good ol’ building! Thanx alot for all the hospitality, joy, fun and warmth you gave us during these 12 years. And thanx alot too for all the consolation you gave us when we were sad. Lots of local bands were born inside your musical womb. We will miss you. We’re so sad that we have to leave you ‘cos we will leave a part of our soul to this place. We will never forget you. There will be always a place in our heart for you. But now we have to go. We have a new future at another place. Although it’s not perfect too it’s a better alternative for us that gives us more possibilities for a new future. At least we’re not turned into the street but found another and better roof above our heads. Our struggle wasn’t senseless.

We also thanx our old neighbors for the trust and understanding they gave us. And we thanx our new neighbors to give us an honest opportunity. Old and new neighbors, be welcome at our “We’re Moving”-festival during the weekend of our moving! We will move both in the way of “moving to a new place” as in the way of “dancing the whole night”. Be there at this historic moment in the history of the Vort’n Vis!

Jan ‘Doomy’ C


Read more on the Vort’n Vis today!

some images (courtesy of Steve Noyelle) of the ‘rehousing-procession’:

VV verhuis 2001 (Steph)VV verhuis 2001 (couch)VV verhuis 2001 (sign)

We need all possible help from anyone who was involved to complete the history – please get in touch!

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