I took a nap Saturday night at 9 p.m., and then I had a Red Bull. The night demanded it.
Nuit Blanche took over several major European cities the first evening of October, with Brussels being one of them. Ultra contemporary art instillations sprung up downtown, indoors and outdoors. Public transportation was free and extended so festival-goers could party all night. The event’s end was signaled by a free breakfast for the insomniacs still out at 5 a.m.
I was picturing the UC Davis Technocultural Studies department taking over Brussels, and I was getting very excited.
Sure enough, I got off the metro and immediately saw this:
In the photo, people are poking their heads into “dreaming drops,” where an individual can meet oneself in a magical micro space and share a common experience, according to the description of this bizarre visual experiment. There were even creepy whispers as the sonic accompaniment.
It was a funny start to my night, and other events had similarly convoluted experiential themes. But that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. I eat that stuff up!
Later in the night, I met friends to take in DJ sets — enduring dubstep to 50s swing — and the nocturnal party atmosphere — apparently awful compared to previous years but still amusing for an American accustomed to quiet at 2 a.m.
Unfortunately at some point in a crowded Beursschouwburg, my wallet was stolen. A somewhat large sum of cash, identification cards, bank card, etc., gone.
I refused to let it ruin my night, but I did let it ruin my Monday.
I started by heading to the local police station to report the theft. It was lengthy, but all in all painless and routine — petty theft is ubiquitous in Brussels.
The annoyance was in blocking my ATM card. This is entirely my fault, but frustrating nonetheless. After being on hold and transferred around (“You need a new card sent to Belgium?”), I finally told the right person my Belgian address. I heard her say, “And Brussels is in… Belgium?” and then the call dropped. Shit.
Did she get it? Did she figure out that Belgium is a country yet? Am I going to get a new card or what?
I could have called back, but the call dropped because I ran out of credit on my phone. That means the phone call zapped 19 euro.
That’s when I started screaming obscenities.
Again, entirely my fault for stupidly using my phone for this — skype would have been far more affordable.
But things have changed a bit since then. I still don’t know the status of my card and that phone call, but my wallet was “returned” to Beursschouwburg and we are currently reunited.
Coming soon: a more pleasant recap of my days in Antwerp and Ostend.