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Cultural all-nighter Nuit Blanche takes over the Marolles

15:59 05/10/2018

The 16th edition of the all-night cultural extravaganza Nuit Blanche this Saturday (6 October) is taking place in the Marolles neighbourhood this year.

The theme is protest - in homage to the 50th anniversary of the worldwide 1968 protests. This is extremely fitting since the Marolles has been a hotbed of protest since it was founded.

In the 13th century, Brussels was getting very rich from its cloth trade and the weavers, full of their economic importance, were a constant thorn in the sides of the ruling seven families. Finally, after getting wind of and putting down a plot by the fullers, weavers and butchers to kill them, the elite decided that they would no longer allow the weavers to enjoy the protection of the city walls and threw them out at sundown every day.

So the weavers were forced to create a new neighbourhood outside the southern wall which years later got the name Marolles from a convent located there. That anti-establishment attitude has lasted through the centuries and it has also been the first neighbourhood for many immigrants - creating a vibrant, poor, diverse population.

The Nuit Blanche will feature 22 performances inside and outside landmark buildings by 13 Belgian and nine international groups, involving 119 performers. Here are some of the highlights:

  • In the magical rooms and beautiful staircase of the Brussels City Archives, four singers and a pianist, all recent graduates of MM Academy in conjunction with De Munt/La Monnaie will seduce the audience with their lyricism and their subject matter including a satire of “rebel” Don Giovanni.
  • In the courtyard of the old fire station across from the flea market, Reckless Sleepers, a Belgian British group with members from five countries will be presenting A String Section. According to member Mole Wetherell: “It’s a quite simple performance, six women, six chairs and six saws.”
  • Belgians Cécile Hupin & Ewout D’Hoore invite you into Saint Peter’s Hospital for Where the Wild Things Grow by leaving a window open. Irresistible sounds float into the night, is there a party going on?
  • For a more straightforward entertainment, the Nuit Blanche invites you to discover the dozen or so street art murals in the Marolles which are part of the 70-mural self-guiding tour of Brussels: PARCOURS Street Art.
  • Giovanna Maria Casetta brings us A Descent into Glamour. A woman appears in the street dressed in a sumptuous pink satin dress with a difference: her dress includes a very, very, very long train which creates questions of etiquette for the audience.

Nuit Blanche, 6 October 19.00-3.00

Written by Richard Harris