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Café & Nightlife

Discover the world, with Polé Polé and Tunify

“Polé Polé” literally means “slowly slowy” in Swahili. People in Ghent who occasionally seek a bit of this typical African…

“Polé Polé” literally means “slowly slowy” in Swahili. People in Ghent who occasionally seek a bit of this typical African culture surely know their way to the Polé Polé bar. But you can also discover other parts of the world in the Polé Polé bars. In Ghent you’ll also find the Spanish cantina Hasta Mañana and the vintage styled Bar des Amis. The latter can also be found in Brussels, Tervuren, Kortrijk and Bruges. Tunify spoke with Tim Van den Heuvel. He knows Polé Polé inside and out and spends most of his time organising the Polé Polé music festival and the Barrio Cantina food truck festival.

“Jo Bonte - the man behind Polé Polé - traveled trough Africa for more than 10 years and also organised adventure tours by himself. When he finally - about 20 years ago now - returned to Belgium, he started his first Polé Polé bar in Ghent. Not much later, he started organising the Afro Nights in the Vooruit in Ghent and the first edition of the Polé Polé festival took place in Oostakker. After a few editions, the mayor of Ghent Daniël Termont invited Jo Bonte to organise the festival in the city center during the “Ghent Festivities”, one of the largest cultural festivals in Europe. This way, Polé Polé started to grow and slowly but steadily new bars were added over time."


In every Polé Polé bar, the decoration will immediately catch your eye. “Our bars are already well-know to people who go out often, but also to other colleagues in our industry. You know, we pay a lot of attention to the decoration and the visual aspect of our businesses. Even after all these years, we can sit down and gaze at the fully decorated walls, and still discover new things every time… There’s an insane attention to detail when decorating our bars."

"Tunify is the finishing touch to the whole concept of our businesses."

Tim Van den Heuvel, Polé Polé

Not only the decor adds to the feel good vibe that Polé Polé is aiming for. “The music fits perfectly in to it,” says Tim Van den Heuvel. “The first Polé Polé bar started as an Afro-Latin bar, so of course this demands a certain type of music: salsa, reggaeton, afrobeat… It's very important to make the concept complete. If you play different music, then the concept fails. At Hasta Mañana, it’s mainly Spanish music. In our other bars, we play funk, soul, occasionally some blues… Always music with a warm happy vibe. The Polé Polé feel good factor is also very important for the music."

Bar Des Amis - Gent

By now, it’s clear that Polé Polé likes to be in control of all the details. Therefore, they often make use of the possibility in Tunify Orange to play their own playlists. “There are people with African roots working in our bars, we have a Mexican who is very much involved in music, there’s our resident DJ… We ask them occasionally to spend some time on the music. They can login to Tunify at home and update our playlists regularly. At busier times, we also make use of the music agendas of Tunify Green."

Do you want to discover for yourself what Polé Polé means? The Polé Polé music festival during the Ghent Festivities in July is a great opportunity, but you can definitely get a taste of it at the different Polé Polé bars. Take a look at the Polé Polé website to find out where you can find them!

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