Meeting with new friends: Anti-Squat connects students and artists

New student collective Anti-Squat wants to connect young people and creative minds. The founders realised people needed something after the pandemic. 

It’s a Saturday afternoon and it’s raining cats and dogs. A couple of students, heads down against the weather, hurry inside the Simplon music centre. Not only is it dry inside, but the atmosphere is great: upbeat music can be heard coming through the doors.

At the top of the stairs where student collective Anti-Squat’s new year’s market is underway, Jesse van Dijk is waiting, a big smile on his face. ‘We only just started, but we’ve already had fifty visitors’, he says. Considering the terrible weather, that’s quite a lot, the archaeology student feels.

Circle of friends

Jesse and five other students came up with the idea for Anti-Squat during a party in a, you guessed it, anti-squatting house. They realised how many international students and young artists were lacking in friends after the pandemic, and they wanted to create a community where students and creative minds could meet, both during the day and at night.  

They previously organised a Halloween party and a Christmas market, and now they’re hosting a new year’s market. 

The welcome area at the bar is filled with long wooden tables with stacks of clothes that visitors to the market can trade and sell. In the room next door, young artists and designers offer their wares. ‘We wanted to give them the opportunity to share their creativity with others, whether they do it professionally or as a hobby’, Jesse explains. 

Teaspoons

Marc Mollhaus, one of the other Anti-Squat founders, is at the market himself, selling rings he makes out of teaspoons right there and then. A sign above the vice on his table says ‘De Smederij’. His stand is popular. ‘I kind of feel like I’m at an assembly line’, he jokes, finishing another ring. 

Making rings out of teaspoons started as a hobby, but Marc wants to turn it into a full-time job. At Anti-Squat, he’s responsible for event design, and he came up with the layout for the market. ‘I just hope we bring together a lot of people’, he says. ‘There are plenty of ways to make new friends here, it’s about creating a connection.’

Welcome

That’s exactly what drew Mahaut, Cyrielle, and Lisenn to Simplon. The three French students are enjoying a cup of tea at the bar. In the background, DJs are playing music ranging from hip hop and R&B to house and techno.

Cyrielle saw the event announcement on the Simplon website and became curious. ‘It looked cool, it was free, and I live close by, at the Student Hotel’, she says. Since she and her friends were free this afternoon, they decided to go. 

At the same moment, Estonian maths student Leana Kalve is coming up the stairs. She was invited to the market by Jesse. She hasn’t come across a community such as Anti-Squat before. ‘It’s great for international students like myself. It’s my chance to meet new people’, she says. 

She enjoys the fact that Anti-Squat organises different kinds of events, and that they attract both international and Dutch students. ‘Parties can be intimidating for internationals, but the fact that all the posters are in English is very inviting.’

Rave

Mahaut, Cyrielle, and Lisenn will definitely keep coming to Anti-Squat events, they say. They just bought a couple of rings from Marc. ‘I love how open and friendly everyone is here’, says Mahaut.

They won’t have to wait long: Anti-Squat’s next event, a rave at the News Cafe, is planned for January 28. 

Dutch

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