Visiting historical ballrooms in Antwerp

Today was a lovely day. Shopping sunday in Antwerp and the perfect weather, with a watery sun coming out to even augment the good spirits we already were in. Our rendez-vous was at half past one in Antwerp Central Station. We met with some peoples of a AMV (Musical Education) class from the academy of music in Genk (Limburg, Belgium), learning about folk music. They wanted to learn about dancehistory in practice. Some years ago I developed a guided tour especially for this kind of groups, visiting historical dance halls in Antwerp. To be honest: today this are rather shops, mall’s, ect. that were built years ago as dancehalls or ballrooms. And there are many of them when you walk from Antwerp Central Station towards the center of the city. At least when you are a good observer. Which was exactly the goal of the tour: learning to observe historical buildings and identify them.

The tour ends of course in the Museum Vleeshuis, where I worked years ago as a scientific researcher to help creating the current permanent exhibition. Down in the cellars one kan admire a true dance hall, where the history of popular social danceculture between 1800 & 1960 is explained. This is the result of the Dans’ant project, which eventually lead to the foundation of Dans’ant.org.

Every object in this dancehall has added multimedia content, combining video, photo’s and soundclips to enhance the experience. The visitor is asking the questions. The museum answers them with all the time one or more options available to digg even deeper. Every visitor receives a handheld computer at the reception. A pandora’s box indeed! Once started, there is no way back. So much music and so little time! Lucky for you, you can come back every next time you visit Antwerp. And the next time. And the next.

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