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After five years full of lies, exaggerations and massive hangovers we've had enough: the Shitty Guide calls it quits. We give up. So what the fuck happened?
It all started five years ago when Kata and Benni went on a back-packing journey to find themselves. After a month of travel they ditched the Lonely Planet and ended up in used-panties shops all over the world.
6 months later they were wandering in Belgrade and trying to shake off a hassling gypsy woman who was following them. There and they had another eureka moment. It wasn’t an apple that hit their head but large portion of liquid coming out of the woman’s mouth. The idea of the Shitty Guide was born.
A spiritual journey into the margins. An odyssey to find the raw, the untouched (not talking about the used panties), the real, the authentic places where no tourist - or sometimes even local - would dare to go.
Once in Antwerp they started writing a ‘shitty’ guide. After a year of wandering around Antwerp’s shittiest places (and 1232 cans of cara pils) The Shitty Guide was a fact. A Microsoft doc was sent into cyberspace, which you could download for free. A guide based upon experiences, lies, assumptions, truths, stories, exaggerations and full of spelling errors. An ode to imperfection.
It was an underground success, 5000 downloads! Soon after the release a group of unemployed nobodies started following Benni around everywhere. They always met at the Groenplaats, right under Ruben’s penis, drinking cara pils. Together they shared a love for shitty places and speed.
Using brain power and sheer will, from a simple .doc the Shitty Guide expanded into a shitty website on the world wide web: the Shitty Guide 2.0. All thanks to the hard work of Simonneke, Krokky and Vinny, who had nothing better to do anyway. An incredible moment in internet history.
From that point on, everyone who Googled ‘drugs Brussels’ or ‘drugs Antwerp’ arrived at our humble little website. No Ricardo, we still don’t know where to fix ketamine, fuck off. Since then, we've had 120.394 unique visitors to the website. On average 1900 unique visitors per month! In total our little website had half a million page views.
Even a mobile app was developed. It never made it to the app store, because of “shitty” in the name, but hey, that’s really not the point is it?
Together with the help of talented low-lifes such as Anne, Ellen, Sam and Bram we threw some incredible, unforgettable parties and expanded the Shitty Guide. We went on shitty expeditions to discover new territory, but mostly found hang-overs and islands of regret.
World domination was always the shitty goal. We’ve thought long and hard on our international expansion strategy.
First we took Brussels. Our favorite hellhole! We asked a random, unemployed local on the street to write the guide for us. That random local was Coby, who is now no longer unemployed, she “works” with animals now, but don’t worry, she didn't really change, she still has drugs- and mental issues, anyway thank you for everything Coby.
Due to the huge demand, the next logical step for a Shitty Guide was Kiev, Ukraine. A team of young, dedicated Shitty explorers decided to go there in the middle of the winter and join the war. But we don’t talk about it. We can’t, because we don’t remember anything. It was dark, it was cold, there was vodka and bare fistfights in the snow. We went to Chernobyl and we tried Tinder there. Gave it ⅕ stars on Tripadvisor, the HBO-series were much better.
After Antwerp, Brussels and Kiev there’s really only one place left: Brasschaat. One of our writers, Freddy, grew up there. His psychologist recommended writing about his trauma’s. The nightmares didn't go away, but the Shitty Guide Brasschaat is something that exists now. Sam Gooris became a life-time fan and Jean Marie Pfaff wears our logo on his collar till the end of his days. Less happy was the ex-mayor, who was forced to react in a newspaper that yes, the cops on Segways were a bad and expensive idea.
Building on the success of the paper guide, Benni and Freddy decided in 2016 to give tours. It was a massive success and we had great time. The owners they loved us, and we loved them back. They were delighted to host the tours, and always greeted us with much hospitality. No doubt: every owner of a brown bar or turkish disco venue or tibetan noodle shop or whatever has A LOT more sense of humor than any stupid fuckin’ yuppie owner of a posh hip coffeebar on the Antwerp south.
But unfortunately time, and also bulliness by this city’s government, took its toll. Already 5 (5!) places of the original Shitty Tour™ closed down since we started. The closing down of these places (Ciné Royale, Café Kiebooms, Café Vogelzang, The Turkish Disco , Tipanan karaoke) is a big loss for cultural heritage of Antwerp. The city is changing.
The city is changing, and this is the consequence of an active policy of disneyfication and gentrification. One of these policies was the “imagoverlagende taks”. Since 2015 all nightshops, shisha bars, video library, etc in Antwerp had to pay an additional, medieval tax 'cause the city council apparently gets to decide what is nice and what is not. We, at Shitty Guide, were not pleased with this feodal mindset and decided to fight back.
We threw a party Shitty Party 4(000), made an underground nightshop video song, wrote a petition and gathered 400 signatures and even went to protest together with Murad and the other nightshop owners at the city hall. The city graciously accepted our 400 signatures and threw it in the trash when we were not looking. Today, the imagoverlagende taks is still there. Another great achievement by the Shitty Guide.
The Shitty Guide became a victim of its own success. Too many tourists came, looking for shittyness, but making everything less shitty. The whole city nowadays feels like Disneyland on coke. Very soon the city will go the same way as Venice: too many tourists, too many (sunken) cruiseships and too much water.
That’s why we're leaving Antwerp, for good! We shall return to where we came from: ashes to ashes, dust to dust, shit to shit. The goods news: you're invited to join our ship! A 21th century version of Noah's Ark, but with less beastiality and more tolerance for LGBT. Together, we will survive this great flood of shit.
Join us at the final shitty party. And remember. There may be a terrible climate catastrophe ahead, but while there's moonlight and mdma and love and romance: let's face the music and dance.
- Benni Booi (our spiritual shitty leader)
- Katarina for coming with the idea of the Shitty Guide
- Frederik Van den Bril
- Vincent Peters
- Koray Sels
- Bram Van Bree
- Simon Peters
- Sam Van Loon
- Anne Verbist
- Ellen Anthoni
- Sven Mes & Liselotte for making the shitty fashion happen
- Lode Uyterschot for believing in the Shitty Guide (LOL)
- Armand from Café Strange
- Dylan from In de stad Aalst
- The Zomsa family
- Patsi & Tim for hosting the first shitty party at Mu(i)ltatuli
- Stefan en Sabrina van Cafe De Vogelenzang
- The owner of Cinema Royale although you never wanted to talk to us
- Tipanan family (we never got to say goodbye…)
- Stefan van de Turkse Disco
- The Bivak crew (Lotte, Zoe, ...) for co-organising the first shitty tour
- Jasper Kuylen & the volunteers at ThisisAntwerp magazine we had a barfight with.
- Serge Muyters
- All the Antwerp drug dealers for the 2+1 promo
- Gestapo Knallmuzik
- Johnny Boy
- The Ukrainian guy who took off his shirt and yelled at Simon “we fight now”
- Koen Crucke for running the best instagram account in the world
- All the journalists who didn’t have anything better to write about
- That one newspaper photographer who hates his job and got really pissed at us
- Tanguy Otomer for being our arch-rival for so many years
- All the volunteers at the Shitty Party
- Everyone who came on the Shitty Tours