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Culture beat - September 20

11:21 20/09/2013
Russian steel, high class electronic music, a samba-loving TV personality... and a playground favourite takes centre stage

The Steel Heart of Russia photo exhibition at the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Brussels, which runs until September 29, reflects the history of the Motherland through the tale of the Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works (MMK), one of the world's largest steel producers . The story begins during the years of industrialisation, when the young Soviet state needed steel. The plant was constructed by hand, in record time and “with great enthusiasm” (sic). In western countries, it was routinely hailed a miracle. Today, MMK is still something Russians are immensely proud of, and indeed remains the steel heart of Russia.

As long as the music’s right, it doesn’t really matter who’s spinning it. So instead of queuing to get into parties with a fabulous DJ line-up, how about a free night out in the company of a Flemish newsreader or an actor... behind the decks! When reading the evening news on public television, Canvas correspondent Lieven Verstraeten always looks so serious. So it might come as a surprise that he’s actually a passionate DJ, too. No house or techno, though; instead he chooses lively samba beats. As his alter-ego DJ Satanic Samba, Verstraeten will play this Friday at Books & Beats, the weekly after-work (or after-school) concept at the newly opened Muntpunt library and info centre. If you think a party at a library sounds a tad boring, just know that Muntpunt spent the last four years renovating and is now the trendiest library in the country. The party kicks off at 16.00 in the Agora entrance hall and is entirely free of charge. Last beats at around 22.00, the perfect time to decide whether you’re heading home or on to the next party. 

When the ‘noble’ art of air guitar became the phenomenon it now is (including a sell-out, heavily sponsored annual world championship), it opened the door for pub pastimes and playground games to be taken seriously – or at least semi-seriously. This explains why Ixelles’ Kings of Comedy Club is organising Belgium’s first ever National Paper, Scissors, Stone Championships this Saturday. No, really. You can simply watch, but you can also enter – with tickets for major comedy events to be won. No cheating, no dirty tricks and remember: the referee’s decision is final. In the words of Vic & Bob: ‘we really want to see those fingers’. Whatever next, eh? The Interregional Peanut-Tossing League? The Pan-European Beermat-Flipping Masters?

For the second year, the Bozar Electronic Arts Festival, which takes place from September 26 to 28, devotes three days to electronic culture. It’s a pity headliner Moderat had to cancel their album release show (because Sascha Ring was injured in a motorcycle accident), though the accompanying Berlin duo Modeselektor will still take the stage. An exclusive grand piano show illustrates the intelligent dance music of London producer and keyboardist Jon Hopkins, and techno pioneer Juan Atkins presents his new Borderland project with Moritz Van Oswald. With audio-visual installations, performances and workshops, the festival offers more than just state-of-the-art beats. Witness Québec’s ELEKTRA festival and its digital installations, the Flemish research institute iMinds’ display of new digital sculptures by Koen Vanmechelen and sound installations created by the AXO platform. The festival is free on the opening night.

Car-Free Sunday is the apotheosis of the European Week of Mobility, which ends this Sunday. As a result, from 9.00 to 19.00, cars are not allowed in the 19 communes of the Brussels-Capital Region. Eleven of them take part in Les Villages / De Dorpen, giving city centres a village feel by organising small-scale, green events. Pimp your bike or skateboard, enjoy a workshop about ecology or mobility, or just take a nap in one of the lounge chairs on the temporary city lawn. Pedestrians and cyclists in other cities can also reclaim their streets. Antwerp and Bruges had theirs last weekend, but this Sunday in Ghent, for instance, you can enjoy a “tweed and vintage” bike ride or visit a car-sharing salon and a deelfeest, i.e. a sharing festival.

Written by PM Doutreligne, Tom Peeters and Katrien Lindemans