COME AS YOU ARE – EXTRAVAGANZA’S LARS DE VALK #pinkinourlives

13913559_521049001422792_2460090740593266258_oBelgian’s daring hit Party concept EXTRAVAGANZA takes normally place every two months in Antwerp and has been for almost three years now.

THEDRESSCODEISYOURSELF-USAIts concept slogan ‘Come as you are’ says it all: it’s an open-minded event and welcomes a crowd of various kinds. Extravaganza is above all a place where you can be and express yourself in all openness. Time to see how open some of the crew members and the organizers are. PINK IN OUR LIVES spoke with them and will feature each of them on our website in the upcoming weeks.

11236150_422483117946048_6995313827697572968_oEXTRAVAGANZA_1The music is both catchy and relaxed, offering a cool mix between retro and contemporary dance beats. A group of EXTRAVAGANZA_2about 20 colourful entertainers, dressed up in theme (last editions included a ‘Sinners and Saints’, ‘American Dream’ and ‘Asian Persuasion’ theme) are the life of the party. The costumes are designed by Harald Ligtvoet and have a kinky and daring edge. Although it’s not a costume party, people are invited to get inspired by the theme.

First one in the spotlight is organizer and founder of EXTRAVAGANZA: Lars De Valk

1016384_10152150263562836_856115803_n1009081_197897800404582_1443810301_oWhat does Extravaganza means especially for you?
Let me first explain how it all started to understand: Almost 3 years ago the Belgian gay party scene wasn’t as it is today. Extravaganza needed to bring changes, creativity, happiness, respect and joy. But most of all to bringing people back together to celebrate there differences in a environment without darkrooms, so they actually get the chance to know each other in a relaxed way. It was summer 2013 when I created the concept as a new chapter in my life as I left the superficial fashion business behind me after working almost 20 years in it. I was feeling great, crazy in love and discovered a great place called Provincetown where I totally could be myself, surrounded by people who didn’t judge anyone’s looks (from leather boys to drags and everything is between) or there backgrounds. 1410797_10151987781427836_95624682_oWith this state of mind I wanted to create a party concept to get rid of the typical gay prejudices of any kind of. I don’t like to use the words “open-minded” party, because I don’t understand to who this message is meant for… straight people maybe, as gays are mostly open-minded, right? The Extravaganza slogan ‘Come as you are’ is a statement to our own community, just be yourself no matter who you are or look like. Celebrate life and life will be much easier if you don’t judge or getting judged, and before you know you meet interesting people at the bar or at the dance floor. So bringing people together in another perspective surrounded by lot’s of entertainers and fun music is what Extravaganza means for me. And it’s a great feeling if I see people having a good time. It makes the two months preparing each party worth while”.

10372836_10152825571592836_1636413240464636681_o13619842_10154265623357836_182320025441620098_nTell us your greatest Extravaganza memory of all the parties that has been done?12193806_422024911325202_7466008721684966715_n
“Every party has it’s own good memory… The first anniversary party (African theme) was an ode to the love of my life, and meant personally a lot to me. The challenge to change venue from Felix Pakhuis to club Red & Blue and that we managed to keep our typical Extravaganza character during the successful “Space invasion” party was a great feeling.
Once a year we get the unique chance to organize the pride main party at Café d’Anvers. Last years edition was a blast and overwhelming feeling. I’m also till very excited about our Extravaganza stage at the Milkshake as I love this festival and the crowd loved us also”.

1973609_223475367846825_85414279_o11986571_411533912374302_4157381488750458078_nHow do you feel about Gaypride and do we still need it these days?
As a young guy I never understood why it always needed to look like an extreme meat carnival that would rather shock straight people. Because I thought I had to explain my dad that my outfits weren’t like that while going out or didn’t walked on high heels during the weekend. Lucky I never needed to explain as my parents excepted me no matter what. Now many years later I understand why we still need this prides all over the world and make the parade look like carnival, because except form the message behind it we also celebrated being equal as a human being. Sadly it seems like we need it more than ever before, while I thought that 10 years ago people were more open-minded.
I don’t think we need to lock ourselves up again as there is nothing wrong to be born gay”.

1560431_10152432201937836_2055394301080763743_nWhat is your ultimate Extravaganza DREAM concept/outfit?
“Every party had already it’s dream outfit made by Harald Ligtvoet, but the upcoming pride edition will be Harald’s best creation ever. As two creative souls I didn’t only find a great designer, who made every time my wishes come true, but more importantly the ultimate friendship that brought us together”.

11856244_401569776704049_857286008584329811_o13254243_10154163354197836_2290426020795421618_nIf you could change something in the LGBT community, what would it be?
Who am I to think changes are needed? As long we respect each other and we learn from our mistakes, I can live with it”.

How would your life look like after TEN years from now?
“Only God knows” 😉

1463388_10151992408197836_1666572790_nTell our readers a secret about yourself that not many people know about you?
“It wouldn’t be a secret anymore if I tell… But I’m working on a new exciting concept that will start at May 2017”.

1264281_10151849786237836_722161593_o

Keep in touch with Pink In Our Lives to find out which Extravaganza personality will be featured next. Find also out more about this great party concept at www.extravaganza-party.be
See them all at the Main Party EXTRAVAGANZA: “Eye Of The Horus”13510962_505749756286050_6322496271063775058_n for Antwerp Pride this saturday at Cafe D’Anvers in Antwerp. It will sizzling hot and spectacular!!!

PINK IN OUR LIVES and Lars De Valk
PINK IN OUR LIVES and Lars De Valk

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Big kiss,

Lesley Middleton


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