This month, Christmas, Easter and your own birthday will once again coincide in one week for all fetish fans from all over the world, namely when the European fetish festival DARKLANDS opens its doors in Antwerp. In many ways, the meeting of fetish enthusiasts in Belgium is unique, but above all, the warm welcome culture immediately appeals to you – there is enough room here for every fetish, for all people and their different desires. There are no prejudices, DARKLANDS is a gigantic safe space for all people who are interested or enjoy fetish. Of course, HIM MAGAZINE will also be there on site. Beforehand, Jacques Smet from the DARKLANDS organizing team told us a little more about this special festival.
Would you like to tell our readers a little bit about the history of DARKLANDS?
Our festival has been around since 2011, it actually started very small at the Leather Pride Festival in Belgium and then grew more and more every year. Since 2016 our festival is called DARKLANDS and now every year around 15,000 people from over 35 countries worldwide visit our festival.
In your really cool trailer online, you declare yourselves and the visitors to be the last rebels in the galaxy. What makes you rebels?
We are definitely rebels! Why? Simply because we want to normalize the fetish. We want to show and enforce in the gay community but also in society and the cultural scene in general that fetish is simply normal in the best sense. In addition, we want to show that fetish is more diverse and varied than many people probably believe. It’s really important to get this knowledge out into the world.
There are no boundaries at DARKLANDS. What kind of attitude should the DARKLANDS guests come with?
As you rightly say, there are no limits with us. The most important thing is mutual respect. We ask all our visitors to respect each other. If you come to us as a guest with this attitude, you will definitely have the best time of your life! We really strongly believe in this. We just celebrate love and so we are really just surrounded by love. We are very diverse and respect all types of fetishes, from leather to rubber to pups to bondage to skins and much more. After all, there are so many of them! To our visitors I would advise: Just be yourself! Be open to new experiences and accept all the different impressions you can experience. In all these years our guests have always been inspired by this, that’s why we simply never needed security, there were never any incidents or fights between our visitors.
Many fetishes are still struggling for diversity and inclusivity. DARKLANDS brings all fetishes together in one big event. You also say that you have come a long way, but there is still a lot to do.
Yes, there really is still some work to do! We experience that we always have to be open for new fetish types. For example, new this year is ABDL, a fetish around Age and Adult Baby Play (Editor’s note: You can find more online in the February issue of HIM MAGAZINE at www.him-magazine.de). We have designed DARKLANDS as a safe space for all fetishes. We welcome all fetish types and will continue to try to offer them a safe place here with us where they can meet and exchange with like-minded people. So, it’s really quite simple: if there are followers of a new fetish, let’s talk about it and we’ll see how we can create a Safe Space for you in DARKLANDS.
Puppy Thaly says that DARKLANDS has contributed significantly to strengthening his self-confidence – to stand by himself and his fetish. How can we perhaps give people in general a little more self-confidence to live out their fetish lustfully and free of shame?
That’s a good question! I would say, care less about what other people think of you. Instead, focus on what you think of yourself and what you really want. In the minds of many fetish enthusiasts, there are often still these self-defeating questions floating around about what other people might think of you. No! Stop it! Ask yourself only what YOU want! DARKLANDS is the perfect place to show you that you can be whoever you want to be. No one will ever judge you here. You also have the freedom to discover what you’re made of when it comes to fetish.
The international superhero fetish competition is sure to be a lot of fun. Hand on heart, does anyone stand a chance against Spiderman? I mean, who can shoot a white sticky liquid like cum out of their wrists?
No, absolutely right, I don’t think there’s anyone else who can cum as much as Spiderman! On the other hand, superheroes come and go, so maybe we’ll all be surprised after all? You never know one hundred percent! Maybe in a few years there will be a superhero that fascinates us much more than Spiderman does today – but currently Spiderman is simply the best!
Jacques, thank you very much for the interview! (ms)
More at: darklands.be
DARKLANDS FESTIVAL, March 07-14, 2023.
Waagnatie Expo, Rijnkaai 150, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium.
Fetish clothing is desired during the day program and mandatory during the night parties on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You can find the respective DRESSCODE online at darklands.be or you are welcome to ask directly on site. Generally, the minimum requirement is a simple pair of jeans and a dark t-shirt, optionally from a fetish brand. Most visitors show up in fetish all day, gladly in a fetish mix of their own design. After all, creativity leads to new trends!
DARKLANDS WORTH KNOWING
At the DARKLANDS Festival the next Mister Leather Belgium will be elected. There will also be master classes on various fetish topics, a separate area for JustFor.Fans performers who want to film on location and an exciting exhibition by Jan Scheirs, one of Antwerp’s leading painters, who drew a series of sketches during last year’s festival, which he will now present to the audience. Also, on site are mostly many well-known porn stars, in live shows will heat us up among others Frankye T, John Rodriguez, Justin Jett, Eddy or even Riley Mitchel. There will also be other sexy live shows like the poppy Showtunes and the X-Awards will honor those people, companies and organizations that have contributed to the development and flourishing of the worldwide gay fetish scene. And what else? You can expect a Bootblack Europe contest, open to all genders and sexual orientations, and also the truly fantastic Super Hero Fetish contest. After last year’s proclamation of the Spiderverse, this year’s DARKLANDS features the Multi-fetish-verse. DARKLANDS brings a new generation of heroes to the stage in rubber, leather, sportswear or straight up pups. At the festival itself there are four big main parties (Mayhem, Fusion, Rage and Fury) plus many special parties and several playrooms for all fetishes. In addition, events like the Horse Fair The Boots, Skins & Punks Nighter, the European Puppy & Handler Contest 2023, the Worldfetish Show Contest Live and a comprehensive accompanying program – in short, every fetish lover will find here something that is guaranteed to excite him. A special tip for pups is Camp K9: with a huge ball pool, a mosh area and lots of toys, pups, handlers and friends can really join in the fun and pup out!