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Campaign launched to save Brussels nightclub Fuse after neighbour's noise complaint

21:58 16/01/2023

A popular Brussels nightclub has announced its closure following complaints about noise from a neighbour.

Fuse, which is Belgium's longest-running techno club, announced its closure on social media "after almost 29 years of existence".

The nightclub said: "Fuse has received the immediate order to play music at a maximum of 98dB and to close its doors at 2.00.

"It is impossible to open a club under these circumstances, so the club will remain closed. The reason for this decision is the complaints from a neighbour who bought an adjacent house some years ago. Although significant insulation works have been executed, and a compromise has been intensively worked on, this hasn't solved the issue.”

Fuse’s administration said it had launched an appeal against the decision and hoped for results some time towards the end of January.

“It is very regrettable that an iconic club gathering thousands of music lovers and artists, employing 10 people during the week and 80 during the weekend, is put at stake because of one neighbour,” its statement read.

“It is clear that the closing of Fuse club and the parties that it hosts also has an impact on the local economy, foreign tourism and Brussels cultural life. We call on the competent regional authorities to reverse this decision.

"As always, Fuse is willing to work together constructively to find a solution. We hope for a fast and positive decision to re-open Belgium's longest-running techno club.”

In the meantime, Bruzz reports that a petition launched by the Brussels By Night Federation to keep the club open has already gathered more than 30,000 signatures.

Reactions of dismay have also come from artists and entertainers, along with politicians and other clubs.

Lefto, a well-known Belgian DJ and producer, said on Instagram that it was “unbelievable that one individual can close a legendary club that has been a landmark in this country for so long”.

Adding that “this club is part of our heritage,” Lefto argued that “it should be untouchable and seen as an important institution for the city's nightlife,” citing the various economic benefits the lively club brings.

"Nobody wants to visit a dead city," he added. “It's surreal, and although we are used to surreal situations in this city, it is very sad and disappointing.”

Brussels mayor Philippe Close (PS) has already promised to “do everything so that the Fuse reopens as soon as possible”.

Other politicians to chime in with support include Brussels state secretary for urban planning and heritage Pascal Smet (one.brussels), who called for both parties to reach a solution and said that “we must not let this Brussels icon die”.

In addition to being Belgium’s longest-running club of its type, Fuse is also internationally renowned and one of the three oldest electro clubs in the world.

But while the homeowner that Fuse says is behind the complaints that led to the closure is new to the neighbourhood, others who have lived in the area for far longer say they have never had an issue with the nightclub.

One neighbour told Bruzz he had been living there for 56 years and found the complaints strange: “Fuse is well known. The owner did everything he could to avoid any trouble. I'm in favour [of the reopening] because I went out there when I was young and we’ve never had any problems.”

Another neighbour who had been living there for 58 years said: “I don't understand how one neighbour's complaint can lead to the closure of such a big nightclub. This neighbour has been campaigning against Fuse for a few years now.

"He has come many times to ask me to sign a petition. I've never done that because it really doesn't bother me. Sometimes I do hear people in the street when the party is done, but you also know there will be some noise when you move next door to a club.”

Still another said that they were sad to see Fuse go when entertainment options are already so limited: “For me, it was a monument. Now it's gone. The neighbourhood will be even sadder. It's already sad because there isn't much there already and [Fuse] still provided a bit of atmosphere, I must say.”

Much of Fuse’s clientele (30%) comes from abroad. In other major cities with lively nightlife, such as Berlin and London, special laws are in place designed to protect long-standing clubs against noise complaints from people who move into the neighbourhood already knowing what they are getting into.

“These laws mean that if you go and live next door to a club that has been open since 1994 and you arrive in 2015, you can't shut it down with a simple complaint,” Lorenzo Serra, co-founder of the Brussels by Night Federation, explained.

Clubs like Fuse have already been suffering as a result of the pandemic and its related shutdowns, which crippled the nightlife sector.

Other Brussels (and Belgian) clubs have voiced their support of Fuse and the petition to reopen it continues to gather signatures.

“We understand the emotions surrounding the closure of the Fuse and are helping to find solutions, but we are doing no more or no less than applying the law,” a spokesperson for Brussels Environment said.

At current levels, Fuse’s noise levels are 10-15dB too high.

The spokesperson said that five complaints from local residents have been pending against Fuse since 2014, four of which have been resolved. It is the last resident’s still-unresolved complaint that prompted the closure.

“As an administration to protect the environment, we are obliged to apply the law,” the spokesperson said.

But a neighbourhood committee said that "several" residents are bothered by the club, not just one: "It is wrong and dangerous to claim that the existence of this disco is threatened by a single neighbour, when just before the pandemic a paper petition had gathered 65 signatures from directly affected residents."

The committee added that Fuse was able to host events in other venues in different buildings during the Covid crisis: "If residents were able to sleep during that period, it was only thanks to the pandemic."

A decision on the appeal of the closure is expected on 25 January.

Written by Helen Lyons