Moth Joost van Bellen.
Joost van Bellen is a DJ, but one who dresses up evenings with dramatic sets and costumes. Born in Leiden, as a shy gay man, he sought refuge in the Amsterdam nightlife in the 1980s – and he has made it his profession.
How are you?
“Good under the circumstances. The conditions are, of course, appalling. All my performances have been cancelled, until February. Then I would be at Eurosonic Noorderslag, but that has already been cancelled. They’re going to stream, but what I’m doing doesn’t lend itself to that. I am actually a sort of circus director, in my performance I use sets and costumes.
“I’m doing well because I’ve written a book, Night Animal. A genuinely lied biography about the nightlife in Amsterdam in the eighties that collides with total standstill during the pandemic. Fiction, because people and events overlap, but the image is correct.
“I had my book presentation in October, and the book is going well beyond expectations. I also walk a lot, which is also good for the head. I walk to bookstores, and then I sign copies.”
What is going less well?
“I’ve been through quite a bit of depression. I’m really running into myself, my life has imploded. Before corona, I was used to giving people something that they enjoyed with my performances; dancing and laughing with people you don’t know, letting you go, forgetting everything else. It was giving love and receiving love. Now I live like a hermit, and in that solitude the ghosts of the past dig their nails into my back. As a young gay man I often felt that I was not allowed to exist as I was. I think a lot of people in the LGBTI+ community need kinship, and it’s hard to find right now.”
What is your biggest concern?
“I don’t really dare to look ahead because I’ve become numb in the past 22 months. Every press conference in which Rutte and De Jonge announce new measures really feels like a punch in the stomach. Then I would come up with artwork, arrange costumes, and then it couldn’t go on. I even see hope as a kind of weakness, because it means you don’t accept where you are now.”
What do you need to make 2022 better than 2021?
“Oh, then you get that hope again. Going forward: I hope I manage to write a sequel to Nachtdier, about the period of the rise of dance music that ends with the fire at nightclub Roxy. I resolved to do nothing else until April. I don’t want to get all heated up about something that ‘might continue’.”