I generally try to avoid the Leidseplein like the Bubonic plague if it weren’t for the fact that it houses four of the nicest cultural institutions of the city – Paradiso, De Melkweg, De Staddschouwburg and De Balie.
De Balie’s worth a visit for its interior alone – even sipping a cup of tea here oozes style. De Balie houses a Grand Café with nice food, but I especially like drinking a late beer here after a concert at Paradiso. It’s relaxed as well as energetic, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, when there’s a DJ playing tunes.
De Balie organize debates, seminars and film screenings geared towards culture, art and politics in their back rooms and on the first floor, a beautiful entresol that looks out over the square. In short, it’s at once eclectic and timeless. It’s history and atmosphere render it elegant, regardless of what’s going on inside, whether it’s an Oscar- or election night, theatre, a daytime lecture, an activist documentary screening or even a late-night rave.
If you’re in to film (like me), De Balie’s a regular hot bed. They host the CinemAsia Film Festival, the World Cinema Festival in August and the Amsterdam Shorts! short film festival among others. Amsterdam independent cinema collective Cineville host many of their special screenings and talkshow evenings here. De Balie has recently started operating as an actual cinema with daily screenings as well.