Two weeks full of gigs, pop-up stores, exhibitions and live cinema ended on Friday 27 August as the annual “Congés annulés” programme came to an end.
Photo: LaLa La Photo
While the afternoon’s rain may have scared people away at first, the Rotondes continued to fill up steadily throughout the evening.
The event started at 6pm with a secondhand bike market; the Rotondes’ pop-up store of the day. A lot of interested buyers had turned up early for the market. Already within the first ten minutes, the hall was crammed with bike enthusiasts, looking for a good deal.
While it was not the first time that “Congés annulés” featured a bicycle fair, it did mark the debut of the We Ride Bike Festival. The new event originally had been set to take place outside. “Unfortunately, we’ve had to move the market indoors this year because of the rain. Nevertheless, things have turned out very well and we have a full house, so I’m very happy”, Mate Horvath, organiser of the market, said on Friday evening.
The market was well-equipped with an area for bike repair, where people could come to get their tires pumped up, and take the bikes for a test ride around the Rotondes before making an informed decision. Whether people came to find a sporty, elegant or retro bike, there was something for everyone in every price range.
Amin, a 24-year-old student, had just come to find a cheap bike that he could use during his final year of studies. His bike was making some strange noises as he took it out of the store, but as he remarked: “I’ve only paid €60 for it, and I just need it for a year”.
The atmosphere around the open-air bar at the other end of the Rotondes was very laid-back.
The vast majority of people had turned up to meet with friends or colleagues to get a few drinks and to kick-start the weekend. “There is always a good after-work atmosphere here at the Rotondes”, one of the attendees said. In the background, DJ Mike Tock and the live-broadcast by Radio 100,7 filled the air with a mix of music and interviews.
During the previous two weeks, Congés annulés had presented a variety of national and international artists, aiming to have something for everyone. “The Congés annulés has attracted an increasing amount of people over the past three years”, Marc Hauser, organiser of the event, said. “The initial idea behind the Congés annulés was to offer those people that don’t go on holiday a place to go to in August. However, most concert halls, theatres and venues are closed for the month”.
Hence, no holidays for the Rotondes, as the title of their annual summer event indicates. Hauser explained:
“We have realised that the concerts tend to work out better in August than during the rest of the year. People are more relaxed, they have more time to discover new things and to just hang around and enjoy”.
Hauser’s comments were reflected in the atmosphere at the Rotondes. The people that Delano spoke to did not plan to go see the bands that started playing later on, but they seemed to stay around simply to enjoy the atmosphere and the evening.
Editor’s note, 29 August 2017: This article previously conflated two separate bike festivals, and has been updated to reflect that it was the first edition of the “We Ride Bike Festival”.