Belgium is all business at the front, in the very serious EU capital Brussels, but it’s all party at the back, in the little western town of Boussu. Here, outside an artisanal brewery, hundreds of nostalgics and merry-makers gathered on Saturday to celebrate the mullet, the iconic 1980s hairdo. For some it’s a throwback to a simpler time, for others an anti-fashion statement or simply a bit of a laugh. For folklore specialists it celebrates “dewanne”, tomfoolery in the Borinage dialect.
“This cut is a state of mind, a declaration of independence. It carries symbolic weight as an affirmation of self,” organiser Damien Hubert said, explaining how the festival evolved from a music video film shoot.
“To be honest, I’m not sure that many people ever found the cut very attractive. We’re not kidding ourselves about that,” he admitted.
Laid back outback Australia has hosted mullet festivals in the past, but organisers think that Boussu’s – which they hoped would attract around 1,500 people – is a first in Europe.
Many of those who turned out on Saturday for a beer and a bold trim were thirty and forty-somethings nostalgic for the age of rocker Rod Stewart, footballer Chris Waddle or the US adventure series MacGyver, in which the lead character sports a mullet.
“When I was little, I was in love with MacGyver, this is like a return to my childhood,” said 31-year-old Marie Vandeville as she went under the razor. “I’ll only leave it a few days, afterwards we’ll even it up.”