A temple of techno music known throughout Europe, Fuse faltered under pressure from neighbors exasperated by the nighttime decibels. But the famous Brussels club withstood the shock, mobilizing the political class and becoming a symbol. The nightclub, which has seen all the big names in electro come and go since its opening in 1994 – from Laurent Garnier to Carl Cox via Aphex Twin and Daft Punk – is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. , a rare longevity in this sector of activity.

“It’s more and more difficult for clubs to exist in the centers of cities,” Pierre Noisiez, alias DJ Pierre, a local figure, who already worked there in 1994, explains to AFP. “If you remove them , you have a city center that is dead, which no one wants.” Book, souvenir compilation, concerts in Belgium and abroad; a series of events mark this anniversary.

On April 5 and 6, two special evenings, with extended hours, are planned in the club located in the heart of the historic Marolles district. Before a world tour which will stop in Amsterdam, Berlin, London and Barcelona in particular. But these celebrations will take place in a tormented context.

The nightclub, forced to close for three weeks in January 2023 following anti-noise restrictions linked to the recriminations of a neighbor, is facing “two new complaints”, its director Steven Van Belle told AFP. In a few days, a petition in favor of reopening the place had obtained nearly 68,000 signatures. While the Covid period is still on everyone’s minds – it was experienced as a trauma by the sector – the dissatisfaction of certain neighbors over noise pollution does not weaken. “It’s still a hot topic,” says Mr. Van Belle.

Last year, the announcement of the administrative closure gave rise to a spectacular mobilization bringing together artists, anonymous revelers and the political world. The socialist mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, described the Fuse as a “monument” of his city, while the management of the place protested that a single neighbor could threaten the “oldest techno club in Belgium”. “It breaks my heart,” said Flemish disc jockey Charlotte de Witte, one of the great global stars of this musical scene.

A few months later, in July, the culture of “clubbing” was included in the intangible heritage of the Brussels region, just like that of beer or frit shacks, “fritkots”. A symbolic measure which is the direct consequence of the controversy surrounding the Fuse. “Closing the Fuse would endanger all nightlife. It was time to protect it,” we explain to the office of Ans Persoons, Brussels Secretary of State in charge of Heritage. “Now neighbors must also adapt to what is considered an element of heritage.”

This classification – distinct from that of Unesco – applies to “at least 100 places” in the Brussels region, according to the federation of actors in the nightlife which carried out the project. In addition to the twenty nightclubs in the Belgian capital, there are night bars, concert halls and other open-air festivals where people also dance in front of the DJs’ speakers and turntables.

To guarantee the future of these places, which are sometimes the economic engine of a district, the regional executive recently developed new urban planning rules which impose constraints (in permit applications, insulation work, etc.) both to direct neighbors and to the operator of the place. Director Steven Van Belle says he is firmly awaiting this new “protection” legal framework, which must still be submitted to a vote by the regional Parliament.