Brussels bars tackle noise, violence with Nightlife Charter


Bars and other businesses in the Sint-Jacob neighbourhood of Brussels are banding together to stop noise nuisance, drunkenness and threats of violence

Night rainbows

Club and bar owners in the Sint-Jacob neighbourhood of downtown Brussels are co-operating with local politicians on a new Nightlife Charter to help curb late-night noise, drunkenness and violence. Along with the famous Manneken Pis and the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw church, the area is home to Brussels’ LGBT+ nightlife.

Business owners sign the charter on a voluntary basis, and about 15 have signed on so far. It was the  business owners and local residents who came up with the idea for the charter in the first place.

The charter sets out suggestions for how to prevent and handle different situations, such as overconsumption of alcohol, excessive noise and threats against gay or trans people. Every business that signs the charter gets a sticker to put in the window.

“When you put your signature to something, it increases your engagement and encourages you to adhere to it,” Julien Vandersmissen, manager of the bar Le Belgica, told Bruzz. “I also think that the charter will improve our contacts with the people who live here.”

According to the Brussels secretary for equal opportunities, Bianca Debaets, they are also creating a platform where the business owners, city authorities and police can discuss problems, rather than the police intervening on their own. “We want to start these charters in other neighbourhoods as well,” she said, “because Brussels’ nightlife is becoming much more vibrant. Think about Sint-Gillies, for instance, or Elsene.”

Photo courtesy Open VLD