In 2020 the global fetish community will come together in Antwerp (Belgium) for the 11th edition of Europe’s biggest fetish party – Darklands. Previously known as Leather and Fetish Pride Belgium, the event attracts a huge crowd – day and night – to the banks of the Scheldt River. Alphatribe spoke with organiser Jeroen van Lievenoogen to find out what’s new in 2020 and how he finds the energy to organise such a massive event.
In 2020 you celebrate the start of a new decade with a new name, and in a new month. Why the changes?
I decided to use the name Darklands for the whole event four years ago when we changed from ‘Leatherpride’ to ‘Leather & Fetish Pride Belgium’. There was already a little hint in the new logo we launched then. It already featured the D (for Darklands) on the logo’s chest plate. I would have loved to switch to Darklands sooner, but the event wasn’t well known enough yet.
Darklands has never had a fixed date, we shift from time to time. That’s because we pick a date away from holidays or festivities to ensure our visitors have enough hotels to choose from. I also need to negotiate the date with the organisers of events that use the same venue before and after Darklands. They were there first, so they get first pick. And something other organisers don’t need to contend with – we have to make sure it’s not a king (spring) tide over that weekend. Our venue has flooded several times in the past.
What is the theme of the 2020 event?
This year we’re taking our visitors to the desolated remains of a former amusement park. It used to be the cultural highlight of Antwerp, but was abandoned years ago. A mysterious new owner bought it for a few pennies and rebuilt it as an adult theme park. We’ll take the immersion even further than before with a tripled budget for decoration and a main stage that is double the size of last year.
What was your personal highlight of last year’s mega weekend?
I was able to have most of the day off on Sunday last year. We have an incredible team that is getting into a routine after all these years. That gives me the opportunity to enjoy the event myself.