6 Dansaert, Brussels, Belgium
02 512 06 52
L'Archiduc Brussels Reviews
L'Archiduc Sep 04, 2009
This is a bar that is highly recommended by many of my friends from Brussels. Some might say that this one of the coolest bars in Brussels, and it is cool. Sometimes when you arrive late the doors will be closed and you can believe that it is a club that you can’t enter but just ring the bell and you enter a steel bubble swing door which looks like it was taken from an old bank.
L’Archiduc is conveniently located in the fashionable Antoine Dansaert's Street, a stone throw away from the Bourse, the Beurschouwburg and the Ancienne Belgique. When you get in there, you enter an art deco room with high ceilings, half-moon balcony, pillars to the roof, a piano in the middle and tiny corner bar.
The place attracts intellectuals and artistic beauties and the bar-staff know their music as well as their martinis. Watch out what you order you might get much more than you anticipated. I cave the barman 50 euro for 3 glasses of 18 years old MACALLAN, which is a lovely sherried whisky, and a bit of a benchmark for this style. I had expect 3 small glasses like I would have gotten in any bar in Denmark, but I received 3 HUGE glasses that really put me and my two friends under pressure.
The bar is famous for jazz sessions; especially during autumn and winter months with, among other events, Saturday's "Jazz After Shopping" and Sunday's "Round About Five", both from 5 pm to 7 pm.
The owners, the friendly Jean-Louis and Nathalie Hennart have run the place as it is known today since 1985, though L'Archiduc has existed since 1937 and has a vivid history.
In 1937, Madame Alice opened L'Archiduc. At the time, it was a classy and discrete art deco establishment used by brokers and their secretaries. Several small wooden booths, topped by cast iron frames, offered them privacy and comfort. Today, the booths are gone, but one can still sit on the original benches along the walls.
The cast iron main door still remains along with its beautiful A; standing for Archiduc, for Alice, and most certainly for Amour. Madame Alice quit in 1953. Stan Brenders and his wife took over. And so began Archiduc's Jazz Age.
Stan Brenders would be at the grand piano most evenings. This 1929 piano, along with the two pillars embracing it, soon became the symbols of L'Archiduc. Jazz musicians came from everywhere. Nat King Cole, Stan's friend, was successful with one of Stan's compositions, "I Envy", as was Alice Babs, with "So Many People".
Stan died in 1969. Nevertheless, his wife carried on with L'Archiduc until 1985, when Jean-Louis and Nathalie Hennart continued the saga.
Following Stan's footsteps, and wanting to continue in his spirit, the couple looked for some convenient jazz formulas, and in the early 90's they created the two events still in use today.
Stan Brenders was a pioneer of Belgian Jazz. He very early became inspired by the sound of New Orleans Jazz. In 1927, at the age of 23, he joined the band "Charles Remue and his New Stompers", known to have appeared on the first Belgian Jazz record in June 1927, which was cut in London's Edison Bell studios.
In 1933, Brenders played for the INR, the National Radio, which was then a glorious institution where all the music was played live.
Brenders created INR's Jazz Orchestra in January 1936. Unfortunately, WWII was about to unfold. Notwithstanding, during the war, Brenders disguised many song titles to get around nazi censorship of Jazz and Swing.
In May 1942, the INR's Jazz Orchestra would back eight performances of Django Reinhart. This would be Brenders' best musical year, not only for the cooperation with Reinhart, but also for the songs composed then.
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