The new owners of The Crazy Circle

© The Crazy Circle

The Crazy Circle Needs You

The Crazy Circle is back with a brand-new team, and it needs your help. The only les-bi-an & FINTA bar in Brussels has already been closed for too long since the departure of Axelle & Laïla, the previous owners. The vibrant atmosphere that once reigned is ready to come back with full force. Here is where the community needs to band together: The Crazy Circle has launched a fundraiser to reopen the bar. Join us in this collective effort to breath life back into this monument of love and acceptance.

In light of the current fundraiser launched by the Crazy Circle, KET magazine led an interview with Agathe (on the left of the picture) and Cécile (on the right of the picture), two of the new owners.

Could you introduce yourselves, as the public doesn’t know you yet?

Cécile: The team consists of three plus five people. The main three people, Agathe, Marine, and I, work here all the time at the moment, and we aspire to work full-time in the bar. And around us, we have a team which deeply supports us, and which takes on some of the responsibilities that come with taking over the bar. And who are we? Well, we are the goudous of Brussels.

What compelled you to take over the bar?

Cécile: While we were involved in diverse feminist, and queer spaces, we weren’t regulars at this bar. But when Axelle and Laïla posted about them needing someone to take it over, my friends and I jokingly pondered the idea, but the joke became progressively more real, and since nobody else could take over, we jumped on the opportunity and here we are now.

Agathe: Yeah, I think it made sense for us to take over, considering our professional background in the cultural and events field. And we were in luck since the timing was just right for us to be able to take the reigns. So, we took over the bar, which, in our eyes, is not only a bar, but a symbol. It is great to have a space where we can just be ourselves and safely exchange little gestures of affection with the loved ones and just be amongst our peers.

Cécile: The thing that most compelled us was the symbolic meaning of this place as the only permanent les-bi-an and FINTA bar in Brussels. We wanted to keep this incredibly important place alive. And I think the fact that we weren’t regulars here is also something really cool since we can bring a new vibe to this place and add some freshness.

Many consider the Crazy Circle to be a safe space. What measures are you planning to put in place to ensure that this place stays a safe space for the community?

Agathe: While we know that it is not possible for a place to be 100% safe, we try to make the Crazy Circle as safe and inclusive as possible. We are, for example, currently following a training with Plan Sacha, who are helping us create a charter and various warning signs as a preventive measure against any type of violence that could occur in a bar like this. We would also love to undergo a training on intra-community matters.

Cécile: Yeah, as white, cis people, there are some aspects that we are not yet familiar with, and we have to question ourselves. Also, we have to think about everything concerning accessibility. This place, for example, is not really accessible: there are stairs, the toilets are upstairs and its narrow in here. So, we are working on a file regrouping everything that is, or isn’t accessible here, with pictures and everything. Another thing to keep in mind are the prices. The water will, for example, continue to be free, and we try to keep the drinks at a reasonable price.

Agathe: We also will try to have enough mocktails and non-alcoholic beverages at a reasonable price, and not make them more expensive than they need to be. Along with all of this, we also try to be more inclusive when it comes to the denomination of things, which is why we include the FINTA vocabulary more and refer to ourselves as a les-bi-an bar, so as to also include bisexual people.

Cécile: Communication with the public will also play a huge role in making this place as safe as possible. We want to create an environment where everybody can come to us if there is a problem, because, while we try to keep an eye on everything, it is possible that some things remain unseen. Communication will be a great way to keep track of everything and make sure that nobody feels unsafe.

Concerning the fundraiser, how will this help you and is there any other way to support you?

Cécile: With the taking over of the bar, we have to spend a lot of money all at once, hence the fundraiser. We are raising 50.000€, which will help to pay for the purchase of goodwill (40.000€), the deposit (6.000€), the renovations, the fire service controls, the electricity controls, the modifications, and the experts who will check the modifications.

Agathe: The rents and the bills of February and March also have to be paid, as well as the potential artists and events. The bar works a bit like a asbl, in the sense that we don’t intend to make any profit off of it. Any money that is left will be reinvested into anything the bar needs, such as furniture, etc.

Cécile: And would also like to pay ourselves, and those on the team since, otherwise, we won’t be able to pay our bills at home. There are people on this team who don’t have jobs and who are helping us here, and devoting all their energy into this project, so we think it’s primordial to pay them.

Agathe: We couldn’t really ask the bank to help us, since they wouldn’t accept to lend us money considering our financial situation. Plus, lending money is synonymous with bank interests.

Cécile: So, we thought that maybe those in the community who have a little money to spare could help us, be it with a contribution of 5€ or 1.000€. If you can give anything, great! And if not, there are plenty of ways to support us. You can, for example, share the news on social media, share it with people around you, talk about it, write articles about it, and maybe even organise events to raise money.

Agathe: Another way you can help is just by supporting and motivating us. When I’m tired, I think about all the people who are behind us and support us, and it gives me faith to go on.

What are the major challenges that you face?

Agathe: I think one major challenge is exhaustion and trying to take care of ourselves. Holding a bar is a lot of stress, trying to juggle between the shifts, the cleaning, the administrative paperwork, the communication, the link with other asbl, etc.

Cécile: The mental load of it all, the responsibilities, the stress of not knowing whether or not you will be able to pay your bills or pay yourself.

Agathe: On a more logistic level, trying to keep the bar running, making sure that everything works and that the energy levels stay up. But yeah, we are waiting for you, and we hope to open this place up by March.

The Crazy Circle has already managed to raise 39.500€. We are nearing the end, and with your help, a monument of Brussels LGBTQIA+ community can continue to exist and thrive.

Link to the fundraiser