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“People keep dancing even when the lights come on”

“People keep dancing even when the lights come on”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie

Series on Maastricht’s student bars, part 2: The Make Bar

It has its benefits, locating your bar in a fortress wall. As you approach d’n Hiemel, the bar that turns into the Make Bar three times a week, not a sound is heard. Only when the door is opened does the buzz of music and people talking spill over onto the street.

Inside, it’s ‘make it jamming’ night. On stage a few musicians take the lead. Whoever wants to join in grabs the microphone or a guitar. One guy is doing a good impression of Coldplay’s Viva la Vida. There is a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. People seem to be at ease; they feel at home here. The popular beanbags are already occupied. In the corner a group of friends toast to a good night out. One of them is Julia Bobenko, master’s student of Arts and Heritage. “I’ve been here many times before. The parties are the best. Unfortunately, it’s only open until two o’clock. People go crazy, they keep on dancing even when the lights come on and it’s time to go.” She likes that the bar attracts different nationalities. “It’s really mixed. There are some places that only Dutch people go or only Germans. Not here: there’s a group of Spanish people over there, those people are Dutch and I’m German.” She hopes the bar will remain as good as it used to be. “Last year was really fun. Now there are lots of new people, so we have to wait and see if they’re party people. A lot of master’s students come here just to study; I’m the exception, I go out a lot.”

The bar has something of an old-shed feel due to the right-angled room and the high ceilings, though the interior makes it trendy in an alternative kind of way. There are beanbags in the corner and a few high tables with chairs. Blown-up pictures hang on the wall, and behind the bar bottles of Strongbow and Maes beer are cooled in lit-up fridges.

“We made the furniture ourselves with a couple of beer cases and some planks”, says founder and manager of the Make Bar, International Business student Daniel Maciejewski. “It’s very flexible; we can move it anytime if we need the space or just want a change.” And change is often needed in the Make Bar, thanks to its concept. Students are invited to come up with ideas for their own events or parties in the bar. “They can come to us and we help them realise their ideas”, he says. “We have the space and the materials like a beamer and a music installation. The students take care of the organisation and promotion for their party. On the night itself the organisers get their drinks for free.”

In the one year the Make Bar has existed many and various events have taken place, including a clothes exchange party, an 80s and 90s party and a drinking competition. “A guy who had been on exchange in the States had become really enthusiastic about a beer-drinking game they play there”, Maciejewski explains. “You have two tables with glasses of beer and you have to try to throw a ping pong ball into a glass of the opposing party, who then has to drink it. He wanted to play it here too, so he got together twenty teams and we had a tournament.” Besides the nights organised by visitors, the Make Bar has its own regular nights. “To retain continuity”, he says. “But we do struggle with it; it conflicts with the dynamic concept.” 

Two girls have entered the stage. They do a mix of No Woman No Cry and Let it Be. The other musicians join in. They are clearly having fun. Matheus Malchark, from the music conservatory, takes a break at the bar with a bottle of beer. “I play bass guitar and sometimes drums, but I’m not so good at that. I know one of the guys – he asked me to come along and now I jam here regularly. It’s fun, it’s a good audience. Tonight it’s not so busy, but there’s usually a crowd dancing.”

Meanwhile, at the ladies’ toilet, a guy comes in. “You do know this is the ladies?”, one of the girls standing in line asks. “Yes, I just needed some water; there’s none in the gents.” When he starts washing his hands the girls are impressed. “I’ve never seen a guy go to so much trouble to wash his hands”, they laugh. “We’re very proud of you.”

Back at the bar, the night is slowly coming to an end. People are packing up their bags and coats. The last beers are being ordered. Most student managers would be pleased to have a successful bar like this, but Maciejewski has higher ambitions. “My dream is to have a franchise chain like McDonald’s. With a Make Bar in Berlin, London, Paris. This is a big project, and will be even after we’ve finished studying.”

But for now, he’s focusing on Make Bar Maastricht and his studies. “This is very exciting, we’re learning from zero. We apply what we learn in university, but actually running a bar is a different story from what you read in textbooks. We couldn’t do it without the people behind the bar; they’re really well disposed towards the bar. I’d like to open more nights a week. We’re now open only three days, because I want to finish university and Alexander (Eichner, ed.) is on exchange in Bolivia. Also we’re standardising a lot, giving people fixed jobs. Hopefully, we’ll no longer be necessary in the future.”


Cleo Freriks

The Make Bar was founded in 2009 (it recently celebrated its first anniversary) by German International Business students Daniel Maciejewski and Alexander Eichner. They came up with the concept of ‘make your own student bar’. The idea is that students are not just passive visitors, but active participants who get a platform at the Make Bar to organise whatever they would like. Those working at the bar are there to help and stimulate them.

The pub is open three days a week from 8 pm till 2 am. There is usually a party on Tuesday, a chill night on Wednesday and a music night on Thursday, though this is not a fixed scheme but rather a plan for when no special events are organised. 

The Make Bar is located in d’n Hiemel at the Sint Bernardusstraat.

Lees hier het verhaal in het Nederlands.



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