If you don’t know about Antitapas, you should try it asap: it’s a fun party featuring live music, food and so on. To find out more about Antitapas, we had a chat with the president and co-founder of Le Palais de Sciences association, Paolo Melindi Ghidi who has organized for 5 years of some of the coolest events in Brussels.

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Hi Paolo, let’s start from the history of Antitapas: introduce yourself and your partners of Le Palais de Sciences association. How did you come out with the idea of organizing such events?

Le Palais des Sciences is a no-profit association founded by 4 italians that ended up in Brussels by chance for different reasons. Paolo Melindi Ghidi and Luca Demarchi for a doctorate; Antonio Guida for an internship in the european institutions; Raffaele Cere’ for a catering business and development. The team was joined in 2010 by Stefania Succi, a jazz singer. The idea to organize events came out as a prank and with a bit of luck. We had luck to rent a huge house with a 50 mq toilet in the basement (with an hammam and a jacuzzi) in Saint-Gilles neighborhood, which lately has become one of the center of underground nightlife in Brussels. The game was to create bizarre events in a cold northern city: free concerts in the bathroom with musicians and audience dressed up in swimsuit and bikini…

carnival night

Antitapas is a name that combine two cultures: the italian appetizer and the spanish tapas. Why that name? What would Antitapas unveil to happen during those events?

The name was coined while we were preparing one of the first concerts in the bathroom, the famous “swimming apero”. Before the event we wanted to cook something to offer to the guests during the concert. Our spanish roommate Pacho prepared spanish tapas and we prepared italian aperitivo. Since we had few dishes, we shuffled everything…and so the name came out right away. The free food idea kept going even during the Antitapas Festival that we organize, but now we have around 2000 people eating!

The live music: in Italy doesn’t have anymore so much attraction…How is it in Belgium? Could you tell us something on the events planned for the next weeks? Which musicians will join?

antitapasIn Belgium the music live scene is really different than in Italy. There’s a lot of opportunity for culture. The government believes in culture. The live music is considered as culture. The artists are protected by the artist statute which allows them to have a financial support during the creating periods. Even though the situation is changing compared to years ago because of the recession, in Belgium we are way ahead of Italy. An 11 million inhabitant country like Belgium has more than 600 music festivals, most of them even free. Regarding our activities, we are planning two antitapas festivals before Christmas. Our last event was in September 16th, the ‘Marche annuel d’Anderlecht’. We programmed the Telamuré, a group from Apulia and Calabria regions (Italy) that moved to Paris and play tarantella roots and Fanfara Tirana meets Translobal Underground, two of the most important and interesting groups of the contemporary world music scene.

196061_10150171322691206_518066205_8792920_6254110_nToday lots of people attend your events and the events have been expanded also across Europe. Should we expect that a piece of Antitapas will arrive in Italy as well?

We would like, but the conditions in Italy are very difficult. The matter is simple: in Belgium there’s freedom to orgnanize events without compromises with the local politics. In Italy not. I don’t want to discuss this point because our organization is not political. We have organized anyway those events also in Spain and Poland. The next country will be France and maybe Jamaica!

What you do in Brussels has attracted lots of attention from the “official front” of the city: what kind of recognition did you get?

We were awarded with the Visit Brussels Award for the best evening event in Brussels on 2012. We also collaborate with other no-profit european associations, cultural services of the different neighborhoods of the city and sometimes also with the european institutions. Since 2009 our Antitapas festivals are auto-financed and we don’t have any sponsor or public financial support. The audience can join us by paying 5 euros (until midnight, after will be 8 or 9 euros) and enjoy 7 live music concerts, circus and theatre shows, creative and active workshops, hairdressers and obviously free food for all!
On this link you can find some of the shows we have organized from 2009 to 2014 and the future activities of our association www.antitapas.org.

We thank Paolo for the interview….and if you happen to stop in Brussels, follow the italian smell of the Antitapas!