Disko Disko: Five years of dancing

Their parties and hosting sets at festivals are always sold out. The DJ duo Thijs Bruins and Lars Bleijenberg are part of the furniture in the Utrecht nightlife scene. This year, they’re celebrating the fifth anniversary of their party organisation Disko Disko. ‘It was just a fucking phat name.’

‘We’d both moved to Utrecht and soon noticed that something about the nightlife here wasn’t quite right. I was used to Nijmegen, where you had more of the warmer sounds like house and disco. In Utrecht, it was mostly techno. We missed the friendly atmosphere.’

These are the words of Thijs Bruins. Five years ago, he and Lars Bleijenberg decided to organise their own parties. ‘I was working in a bar that was usually quiet,’ he continues. ‘Lars often came in, I’d met him at HKU, where we spent time together studying and chilling. We talked about going out, and about the unfriendly nightlife scene. We wanted to organise something that didn’t just have good music, but had a good vibe too. Our idea was conceived on a beer mat – how appropriate is that?’

The two decided to go for Balkan music. Lars: ‘This music has exactly the right level of cosiness. It was a new concept in Utrecht so we made a Balkan playlist. It included the track Disko Disko Partizani, which we thought was a fucking phat name.’

Organised chaos

And so Disko Disko was born. The first edition of this brand new party organisation was planned in Bassment. Thijs: ‘It was a case of getting all our friends to come, hanging posters all around town and crossing our fingers. The venue soon filled up and it suddenly dawned on us: wow, people are really interested. Cool.’

After the successful first edition, Disko Disko moved from Bassment to the Film café, a popular venue in the CAB building at the time. It was a perfect match, says Lars. ‘The building was organised chaos, like our party. So many options, so few rules. Anything went. We handed out shots of raki at the entrance and had live Balkan acts.’

The parties were a raging success, but the duo still had very little experience. ‘We needed to learn how to set up a programme that flows, so that the music built up logically. The first editions were all over the place really,’ Lars grins. ‘And after two of these parties, Balkan music drives you mad. It’s great, but it’s so intense!’ So they expanded the musical scope to include anything they thought fitted in, from Japanese disco to African house.

Local nightlife

‘I think it’s quite a milestone,’ says Lars, reflecting on their first five years. ‘We’ve certainly left out mark on the local nightlife these past few years. We hosted a podium at the classic Utrecht Soenda Indoor festival, we’re ending this month at the Liberation Festival and next month we’re at Lepeltje Lepeltje. Then we’ve got our regular evening in the city, in café NAR, where every edition is packed out. People think: wow, Disko Disko, you’ve got to be there.’ These days, the organised chaos has been structured, Thijs adds. ‘We’re a bit bolder in our choice of music, playing tracks like Kalinka or Can’t take my eyes off of you. They create the vibe we wanted at the beginning.’


But the social aspect is important to the men too. They want to make connections and share their knowledge within the Utrecht nightlife scene. ‘Not long ago, two lads asked us to help them with something they wanted to organise. We’re still happy to do stuff like that. We didn’t know anything when we started out either.’

And they’re determined to develop even further, including internationally. Lars: ‘We’re always on the look-out for a kind of international exchange, with artists who do the same sort of thing as we do.’ They’ve already been to Paris, and recently even to Tunesia, to play their sets. But they still have ambitions in the Netherlands. ‘Here we are Lowlands; just book us,’ Lars laughs.

10 May 2024, Disko Disko invites Hand-Made (UK), NAR Café der Kunsten,

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