Because We’re Still European is the slogan of Club Europ Express, a cultural project based in Brighton.
An ongoing theme of this blog has become how music, culture, the arts, and the conversations they inspire, are some of the strongest connections across the continent. This was so before the Brexit referendum. Those connections are now sites of protest, hope and community for those left devastated on 23rd June 2016. Club Europ Express embodies that spirit of connection, commonality, a celebration of what we share. I chatted to Marek Kohn to find out more.
What is Club Europ Express?
A club in Brighton for people who feel European or want to remain close to Europe. Music, conversation, culture and connections across the continent.
CEE is a monthly club held at The Rose Hill, a former pub that’s now an arts centre. We’re here to bring together people who feel European, people who are British and people who are from other European countries, people who want to remain close to the rest of Europe, and people who feel that we need to remain open, inclusive and welcoming to others. We’re bringing together a local European community here in Brighton.
What happens at a club night?
We’re also here to make connections with people in other European countries who have similar outlooks, concerns and cultural initiatives. A key feature of each club night is a live video link to another European country. On our first night, in April, we ‘twinned’ with a group in Lublin, Poland, exchanging a video ‘postcard’ from Brighton and a short film they made for us, reflecting their work of memory for their city’s Jewish heritage. A subsequent night took place a few days after President Macron’s inauguration, so we spoke with somebody who had been involved as a volunteer in Macron’s election campaign. In all these conversations, the sense of connection across the continent has made a powerful impression.
I heard there are music and cocktails too?
CEE also features cocktails, such as the ‘Ode to Joy’, and dancing, with music provided by the Vive La FIP DJs. They play vinyl in the style of the Paris radio station FIP, which is a Brighton cult, thanks to its mysterious appearance (eventually brought to an end by the Home Office) on the local FM band. FIP, which plays music from around the globe, represents Brighton’s own distinctive relationship with Europe and the wider world.
You mentioned ‘conversations’. What do you talk about? Is it just anti-Brexit discourse?
Our conversations are as wide-ranging as the people who take part in them. At the most recent one, Peter Kyle MP talked about Brexit, and our friends from Poland joined us again to tell us about the protests against their government’s moves to take control of the judiciary – a reminder that some of us in Europe face worse things than leaving the EU. We’re also ambitious to broaden out into cultural interchanges and collaborations.
CEE is against Brexit, naturally, but more importantly, it’s for Europe. We’re bringing Europeans together, person to person, across borders, in a former local pub, and we’re having a lot of fun doing it.
And finally, why is there only one ‘e’ in ‘Europ’?
Our name is inspired by the old Trans Europ Express, a rail network that created strong, confident, forward-looking connections across Europe. As seen here:
Find Club Europ Express on Facebook
Scenes from Club Europ Express #4, 27th July 2017:
Read my interview with Marek Kohn