“Hein, a mandril isn’t that some sort of Monkey?” I hear you asking.
Well, ok, you are not completely wrong, but I am talking about a different Mandril here.
“The Mandril Cultural and Political Centre is an open space for active participation in collective creative culture in Maastricht, the Netherlands. There are weekly events organized by many volunteers and there is the possibility for everyone to get involved. Some of the events that are already happening at the Mandril are jam sessions, theater and dance, yoga and massage, FreeSkool workshops, movies, presentations and discussion rounds.” – Mandril website
There you go, that is what I am talking about. I went to their (Re-)Opening Day on Sunday evening with a handful of friends and here is what I have to say:
The Mandril could be compared to a baby version of the Kunsthaus Tacheles in Berlin, Germany. An empty, abandoned building taken over by art lovers, activists and world changers and turned into a place of alternative and contemporary art with no boundaries. I saw the Tacheles only from the outside since it has already been shut down in 2012. Sort of the same happened to the Mandril. In March 2013, the Mandril faced eviction from their former address Boschstraat 5. Risen from the ashes like a Phoenix the Mandril is back; an all new location (Cabergerweg 45) but with the same concept. The project runners, if I may call them so, renovated the entire place on their own and today on the reopening, they organized a flea market, gave out drinks and prepared food to gain money for the renovation, for functioning electricity and water in the building. I was impressed.
It was a fully planned day, starting from 3PM lasting until 10PM, but my friends and I only went there around 8PM, due to Uni work. There were Yoga lessons organized, speeches given and presentations held and while we were there, a concert was happening in one of the larger rooms. The band was called “Mervie & Band” and their front singer was one heck of a Power Woman with a lot of Soul.
I had never been to such a place before. The reasons for it are quite simple, for once I never thought that I was a person that would fit into their “circle”. It might sound shallow, but it seems to me that there is some sort of wall between them and me. They strive for “la vie bohème” while I know that it is a life I would feel uncomfortable with. Second, at home in Luxembourg, there don’t exist places like that at all. Sure there is the Café Rocas in Luxembourg city, where the main clientèle are people like those I saw and met at the Mandril. But it is not the same get-together-doing-our-thing like the Mandril. I already feel uncomfortable at Rocas because I know that I don’t fit in and different to the Mandril, people make you feel it there too. [Sidenote: Pepe, if you might ever read this, I only ever went there because you like it so much and as a good Spaniard, you despise Reggaetone, to which I love to dance!]
Back to tonight. In general, I enjoyed the concert and seeing the entire room dancing, even if rather abstract at some points. In the hallway I met two guys with their beer bottles; one of them dedicated a German old “Schlager” love song to me, which was an interesting encounter too. I might also add that my friend Alicia and I were quite overwhelmed with the amount of bearded men… 😉
In one room were some pictures of the former Mandril and it looked really nice and well taken care of with a thick layer of alternative, oriental and hippie, but nice nonetheless. My friends seemed to be more enthusiastic about it than me, but they fit the target audience a little better than me too, so I might end up there more often in the future, for a jam session or a coffee and a discussion round. We’ll see.
I wish the people of the Mandril all the best and that it will last this time in their new location and maybe one day it will have the same reputation as Berlin’s Kunsthaus Tacheles.
You want to know and find out more about the Mandril, visit their website by clicking here.