UPDATE: Jean Van Roy, a brewer and blender at Brasserie Cantillon, has since issued a statement about the Cabaret and the controversy surrounding it. We give him 5 Beer Idiots for making the balanced statement, our highest accolade. We reproduce his statement on 14 October in full:
“After two weeks of silence, I’d like to comment on this year’s Zwanze Day celebration here in Brussels. As you know, we entrusted the evening’s entertainment at Moeder Lambic to their neighbors, the wonderful troupe at Cabaret Mademoiselle.
Cabaret Mademoiselle performed their classic routine, modified for the occasion of Zwanze Day – a song and Drag number, a contortionist, cabaret dancers, etc. – which culminated in a classic burlesque striptease. This last number, taken and shared on social media out of the routine’s context as a whole, understandably shocked many and spurred an online debate.
The debate even took on a political aspect as the two largest political parties here in Brussels, who in face of the upcoming elections, each took a position on the matter. Not wanting to add fuel to the fire, I abstained from making any comment prior to the vote this morning.
I completely understand that, taken out of its original context, the last number was shocking to many, and I extend my apologies to those who were taken aback or disappointed by the video. Having only principally filmed the last number was a huge mistake on our part, and we recognize that this particular number shouldn’t have been included in the line up for an event like Zwanze Day. “Faire la Zwanze” doesn’t mean that anything goes, and this will serve as our lesson for the future.
Nevertheless, I would like to clarify that we remain supporters of Cabaret Mademoiselle, who are not only advocates for human diversity, but also champion this same diversity through their art.
Again, my humble apologies to those offended – I hope that we can talk it out over a glass of Gueuze.”
Beer Idiots’ original story follows:
Cantillon has pissed off both female and male fans with its recent display of breasts and gueuze-splashed bottom when it decided to feature a cabaret dancer outside of Moeder Lambic Fontainas during Zwanwe on 29 October. A video of what was essentially a burlesque striptease show in the cold and on the concrete engendered rapid responses which as of 2 October was up to 50,000 views, 189 likes, 300 comments, and 118 shares. Opinion was divided. Some condemned it for exploitation of women and/or said Cantillon did not need to use a naked woman, who was evidently cold, to sell a great beer. One brave lad even offered to give up drinking Cantillon. Others called on the condemners to lighten up. This is Belgium!
Beer Idiots has decided to sit on the fence for this one, even though it is painful to our bottoms. Cabaret is a Belgian tradition and as practiced at one of my favourite clubs, L’Os à Moelle, is a means for ordinary folk to have some fun and gain more confidence in their bodies. But this looked more like a striptease for the boys rather than an artistic show of humour and song. So we award 0 beeridiots to Cantillon and 0 beeridiots to the critics. Have a cold one boys and girls.
When the artiste poured two bottles of Cantillon over her butt cheeks and some in her mouth before spouting it out all one should think is: What a waste! I think another dancer answered the critics on Facebook as can be seen in the excerpts below:
Belgian Beer and Food writer Alan Hope: “Really sad. The beer is so bad it needs an undressed woman for promotion? A few glasses of beer handed round wouldn’t be convincing? Sincerely sad that French-speaking still think this is the way to promote anything. Out-dated, old fashioned and embarrassing. But of-course the industry is still dominated by old men, so they get a kick out of it. Pathetic.”
Ninnie Ingelson · 0:00 It is not ok to sell beer with striptease! Shame on you Moeder Lambic (and Cantillion) You give good beer a bad name!
sabel Sundström · 0:00 This is not okey! Exployting women like this. Moeder lambic should be ashamed! I feel sick.
They’re not selling it. They’re celebrating it. None of these breweries need any advertising or marketing ploys to stay in business. They’ve been around for generations. Your bawling about their methods are completely insignificant.
Ninnie Ingelson · 0:00 You are right, they dont need to sell their excellent beer with naked women. Thats exactly my opinion. But still the do!
The best Way to celebrate beer is to drink it it think!
Bastien Poncelet · 0:01 Ninnie seems to know nothing about Burlesque and women rights, thats THE shame
Gabriel Quireza Pinheiro · 0:00 I believe she was doing it on her own free will….
Mathieu Tomahok M · 1:31 No No of course she was force to do a show, on a cold night….
Erik Austvik · 0:30 Why? Why? Why? Only because you don’t need to advertise, does not mean you should do like this! This is degrading! It makes me sick and considering breaking all my Cantillon bottles!
Johanna Ekstedt · 0:00 Why is this a relevant way of promoting beer? A bit confused over here… 😒
Renaud Dévéhix · 0:00 Cabaret Mademoiselle pleads guilty for everything ! We had so much fun…
Irina Carlén · 0:00 Stone-age marketing. 👎
Simon Ryr · 2:38 So much waste… We ‘re so many who’ d wanted to just be able to get a tiny sip of this… And that’s what she does with it… So sad.
Plus, a beer described as ” fine et subtile” and tasted by someone smoking… Pfff. This is sad. And I don’t f***ing care if some disagree.
Mathieu Tomahok M · 2:02 Damn. We had a show to entertain people coming for all around the world and people are complaining about it… GUYS it’s a damn beer, nothing more than that. Not happy, than don’t look… The Cabaret Mademoiselle did a excellent job this year!!!! People are not happy cuz they couldn’t drink a beer. HAHAHAHA
Rémy Bossert · 0:36 c’est quoi ces quelques uns/unes qui critiquent et ne comprennent rien au burlesque et au surréalisme de la zwanze… C’était une top soirée, avec une top ambiance et des tops bière
Edvin S Frid · 0:01 Sad, just sad. Grow up and leave this view of women in the 50’s where it belong.
Elis Rosenberg · 0:00 If you invite a circus school, they will perform circus acts, if you invite a cabaret, then they will probably bring burlesque, drag & variety acts…No one is advertising beer, nor is it degrading, and not even sexist considering that male burlesque is also represented at Cabaret Mademoiselle. Take your prejudice out of Brussels
Sabine Basile · 4:08 C’est pathétique qu’il faille encore une femme à poil pour promouvoir la sortie d’une nouvelle bière.
Em Ma · 0:26 I dont understand the purpose of this
Victor Ambros · 3:35 Pathetic
Alex Härnström · 1:20 Disgusting. Boycott Moeder Lambic Fontainas and talk to people about why exploiting women like this is not ok
Majo Cázares · 0:00 Alex Härnström I am not insane. I am a grown woman with full agency of her body and mind, who grew up with options and ressources and choose to perform work that sometimes enters the sex industry category as my profession. Just as the woman I am talking about. Sexual objectification of women IS a problem, as is sex trafficking and coerced sex acts. Yet that is not what we are talking about here. Now that we’re at it, it’s just as problematic to assume all women performing sexuality are doing so for men, or without enjoyment of their own.
This is a burlesque performer fully choosing to perform this number, which was by the way conceived and directed by herself. What I am tired of, as a woman and a burlesque performer, is people telling me I can’t possibly own my body or enjoy my work and invalidating me or saying the know about my life better than me. If your question was if she was being exploited, she wasn’t.
Majo Cázares · 0:00 Alex Härnström I invite you to come to the cabaret. Talk with us. Ask questions and listen to our answers, then draw your conclusions if you wish.
Mathieu Tomahok M · 0:00 Alex Härnström as a member of the staff of moeder lambic, can I boycott you?
Alex Härnström · 0:02 Yes, I understand some women feel empowered by taking off their clothes. Why do you think that is? Why don’t powerful men do the same? Whatever conclusion you come to, it’s not ok to have this sort of show in an open street promoting a beer label.
Majo Cázares · 0:00 Alex Härnström I’m not denying that patriarchal (and post colonial, white etc) power structures have been in place for centuries or that historically women have been left with little political power outside their sexuality.
Karine Mulder · 0:00 Elle a du avoir froid, la pauvre ! 😨
Kevin Worth · 3:32 Bit weird
Matt Pearce · 0:00 I miss BXL 😭