|How it all began
De Rots. Even though we only started out in 2006 thereís already much to be told. We had some great times but there are some bad memories as well.
It all started out 3 years before in a little cd store names The dancing cow (de dansende koe). Named after the street it had its business in ( de lange koepoortstraat). This is a street with lots of cd and vinyl stores so many friends and customers thought it wouldnít last because of the competition and the limited space in the store. I made everything myself and I didnít had much to begin with. I guess I started out with about 400 cds and 300 vinyl records. Back then some of the customers asked if they could sell their old collections as well in the store and in agreeing to this the shop grew quickly out of proportions. The little store could only hold so much and with over 18000 articles after 3 years work it was time to start searching for a better and bigger location.
You have to know, there was always something going on in the store. Some of the customers started hanging around much longer than they should and people started asking for drinks and building a small bar inside the store. Of course there was no space but the idea of a combination between a rock bar and a cd store was definatly there. Just one street away was a gigantic building which used to be a fast food restaurant amongst other things, and it was available. Unfortunately it took months of calling and emailing before I finally got in touch with the right persons. And when we finally met , it felt like the dream was finally coming true.
Looking at the building itself I realized it would take a lot of work. It was in bad shape, it had been stripped down and the upper floors were in terrible condition. Some parts of the building looked like they were about to collapse. Luckily the lower part of the building was ok. So once I found 4 partners who believed in what it could become, it quickly took off. We had to break down walls, make an insane amount of storage for all the cdís and other items. In between we had to pose for the local newspapers and had to address representatives of the city. It seemed that they were scared of the idea having a big rock bar in the middle of town. But we enjoyed the attention and so the rumour started to spread quickly.
When youíre surrounded with talented people everything goes a lot smoother. The guys I originally started out with did a great job launching the bar and cd store. They all worked so very hard in their own way. Bart was in charge of decoration, Serge painted everything red, Edwin was there day and night getting all the rubble out and tearing down walls. Sven who ran around helping everyone where he could, and off course me, Michel, Iím just really glad they were all there to create this dream.
So months of hard work go by and itís the last Sunday before opening and we finally start moving all the material to De Rots. That very same night someone breaks into the bar and steals a bunch of stuff, like the laptop and tools and a bunch of money. After all this time that really hits you in the face, I felt down was angry and wanted to delay opening the bar. After all we had to find a solution for playing music and getting new equipment. We just didnít see that work out in 5 days as we were suppose to open up on Friday.
But rockers and metalheads are special or should I say strange customers. So we were all in the bar on Friday asking ourselves if it was doable to open the bar, while these young guys maybe fifty or more are pushing the doors outside begging to get in. We had no choice, they were waiting they were demanding that we open the bar. And that made us feel very proud, knowing that we had realised it and that people were as excited about it as we were.
That was a crazy night. Actually we had to do the opening ceremony twice as we had already told lots of people about the robbery.
Looking back now after three years I would say weíre still standing tall. With over 700 concerts in the bar and two structural makeovers the entire look of the bar and the cd store has changed a lot. But at heart it remains the same. On the downside I also lost some good friends, business can be hard sometimes and itís not easy to find people that share your dreams and are willing to work as hard as yourself. But were I lost some I found some new as well and De Rots has become a thing of beauty through all these years. And I take pride in it, pride in itís identity, pride in how much it has improved as a business, pride in all the people that make it come alive now as well as in the past.
And so I would like to thank all the people who helped building it from the ground up but arenít with us now. And even though some of us went a different direction, I hope to see you all again when the time comes.
Bart, Sven, Serge, Kevin, Christof, Maria and Luc, I hope to see you all again when the time comes.
And to all of you reading this, see you soon at the bar in de Rots, a business with a story to it