Ruben Leufkens

Ruben is a programmer and co-founder for Keilecafe, the recently-opened Bit Club, and restaurant Bitter. He started Keilecafe six years ago, when Nieuw-Mathenesse was still mostly a very industrial area. A DJ himself, he felt the need to go beyond just organising parties with loud music and DJs. Raised in Dordrecht, Ruben always saw Rotterdam as the ‘big city’, even more so than Amsterdam, especially as a child and teenager. After living in an anti-squat in Crooswijk, he moved to the West part where he lives today. MOMO wanted to find out more about his go-to places and all-time favourites, so we met for a chat in Urban Espresso Bar (UEB) Westen, his favourite coffee spot!

Growing up…
Ruben went to school in Rotterdam, so he remembers the areas around there vividly: “I took the train from Dordrecht every morning. A lot of my classmates did the same, so we went together on the train and everybody hated us – we were of course very noisy. They would arrive at the Blaak station and walk to school together, on Vondelweg in Crooswijk. 

Coffee: Urban Espresso Bar
His all-time favourite coffee spot is the Urban Espresso Bar in Westen, close to where he lives. It slowly became a sort of second living room for him, for his daytime meetings and chats with people.

“This coffee bar, it always also feels a little bit like a big city coffee bar. I’ve been to NYC once, where you can sit at a coffee place and you see so many people passing by, coming in, having a meeting, going away, couples kissing next to people having business discussions… It’s almost like an instrument, that’s also how I look at a club.” 

“A coffee place is just a coffee place: you need four walls, a roof, a coffee machine, and some chairs. But a lot of HoReCa – and we’re also guilty of that – have a concept, everything has to be intentional. A lot of places are concepts, or parodies of themselves. But if you try to be simple, to be what you are in essence, I think then the focus goes on the core business: the coffee, the food, a nice place where you can hang out.” 

Food and restaurants
“De Buffel for pizza, and I get take-away food from Rotiland. Saoto Soup from Warung Melati is the best for when you feel sick. Also, on Vierambachtstraat there are a lot of places with Indian food, for example. If I go out for dinner, I go to Bitter of course. Kaapse Maria and Gamasot are also two of my favourites!”

Nightlife: clubbing & drinking
“I go to Cafe Bakeliet for drinks. I like to go to Poing as well, to Wunderbar and Worm too.” For him, Worm is a big example of how he would like Keilecafe to become – an established place with a long-standing experience. “There are so many places where I used to play as a DJ that don’t exist anymore, they only existed for two years or so.” Nowadays, you mostly find Ruben at Bit Club and soon, at Keilecafe as well, where he is busy with the events that they are planning and creating. 

Yet to be discovered
“I know the South Side of Rotterdam, but not that well. I really like to bike there, through the Maastunnel. It’s a beautiful tunnel, with really nice elevator stairs. And then you pop up in the middle of the South and you can just bike there. It’s very cool to see: on the right you have the harbour, the containers and on the left side there’s a residential area. So you can really see it’s a harbour city from there. I think we will all move to the South eventually, the North is already too small.”

Best of Rotterdam and its people
Ruben loves that “Rotterdam is a harbour city. You have a lot of different people living together and especially a lot of different backgrounds, from all over the world. From Cape Verde for instance: Rotterdam houses the most people of Cape Verde besides Cape Verde itself and therefore, Rotterdam became the music center of Cape Verdian people. More than 50% of the people living here have a non-Western immigration background. I’m used to diverse people and cultures. I notice in other cities when the people on the streets are not that diverse”

He is also very fond of Kop van Zuid, “I love going to Kop van Zuid and walking around, especially. I go to the cinema there, at Lantaren Venster, and also to just take a stroll.”

For new-comers
“Walk on the Erasmus Bridge and around Kop van Zuid. For me, that’s a beautiful part of Rotterdam.” His history with that area dates back to his childhood: “My father was an architect, and I would go with him to Kop van Zuid, when it was not like today, with big buildings. It was a big construction area and we always passed the fences. My brother and I climbed big piles of sand, while my father was taking pictures of what they were building.” 

Ties to MOMO 
“I attended different events from MOMO, especially the ones from Fabrique.” He appreciates the niche line-up of the festival, he thinks it’s very interesting.

Take a look at our diverse line-up of this year, and immerse yourself in the city!

Door Rotterdamse Ogen