De Gym. An inevitable subject in chats with people that seek and enjoy an alternative music scene for many genres. Located in the very center of Groningen where the nights are vibrant and swarming with students, at the beginning of Oosterstraat there is De Gym. Once inside, you go through it’s dim entrance to discover a pink lighted corridor that leads to three main spaces of the former William Louis Gymnasium, two of which are managed by De Gym team and with help from its volunteers. Café BED, which actually has bunk beds for band that visit, and De Gym, the venue space.
It started as an initiative of a collective of students from Minerva Academy and was used for different purposes over the years like exhibition space, restaurant, gigs venue, meetings and lectures. Nowadays its agenda consists mainly of music acts that include bands from around the world.
In the spring, around April, De Gym reopened with a new design that is still present now. A hazy mix of pink, blue and green lighting creates unique visuals for the live performances held inside. Decorated with symbols of 90’s like small porcelain statues you would find in a Mamamini and a truly DIY bar it all adds to its distinctive look.
Usually De Gym is a place that you discover through friends or on internet (recently featured on VPRO 3voor12). For example, in the autumn of 2015 one night I was going out with friends and there was a late night DJs programme.
Then after April I started going to the bands they invited to play. I was at the very reopening of the venue, where УТРО played and it was packed. It was the beginning of a very long chain of great gigs… and events. For example, the School Of Life (known for its videos on YouTube on philosophy and interpersonal advices) held a week long talks. Or the ongoing Let’s Gro initiative of which a part is held in De Gym.
If there is any place where you want to get surprised by new music and upcoming artists and musicians who maybe one day will be too well known to play in places smaller than Ziggo Dome, well then De Gym is the alternative (literary and figuratively).
By Radu Hainaru