Our history - A family tradition since 1920
Around 1900 "Magic Mirror Tents" or "Spiegeltents" as we call them in Flanders, were built to be used as travelling dance halls.
The numerous mirrors made it possible to make discreet eye contact with other visitors. The Magic Mirror tents were the domain of the night owls, heartbreakers and dream chasers. They were legendary and are a symbol of the wild "fin-de-siècle" nightlife.
In 1912 Willem Klessens, a young man from Holland, crossed the border and headed for Lommel in Belgium, where he later married Amelia Kaers. He earned a living as a cartwright and cabinetmaker. One day Oscar Horebeke from Antwerp arrived in Lommel with his tent of mirrors and his dance organ. He didn’t just run the funfair he also put it all up for sale.
Willem, who originally was only interested in the organ for his café and dance hall, bought the whole lot and it all started from there
In 1920 the first Magic Mirror Tent was completely restored and christened "Het Kempisch Danspaleis". This Spiegeltent travelled from fairground to fairground in the Lommel - Mol - Balen region.
It was not long before a new Magic Mirror tent was built. In 1930 work started on the "Nova Danssalon", the showpiece that was soon to be admired all over Flanders. Son August took over the Magic Mirror tent company and, together with his wife Lucienne and their nine children, travelled from one fair to another for many years.
They mainly ran the tents themselves and initially played "De Kempenaar", a large Decap organ.
After the war, with the emergence of live music the Magic Mirror tents experienced a boom by inviting the best orchestras from home and abroad to play in them.
They bought some more tents, "De Lust", "Cristal Palace", "Pigalle" and "Victoria". August was promptly christened The King of Magic Mirror tents.
Interview with Johnny (87 years old) in 2005
Gusje Klessens’ tents, that was a great time. We played all the fairs in the Kempen. We were like a live jukebox. It started in the afternoon and went on until midnight and then Gus came to me in the overflowing tent, saying, “Do another hour and I’ll pay you a bit more.” Gus’s tents were so popular.
In 1984 Rik Klessens took over from his father and, together with his wife Liliane, no longer travelled from fairground to fairground but across the border, going further and further afield in search of new horizons where they could offer their beautiful examples of bygone popular entertainment to the organisers of festivals, company paries and private events or as a restaurant theatre for a dinner show.
2006 - 2010
In 2006, Gerry joined the family business. In 2010, Ariane followed her brother’s example. Today, two of three children of Rik and Liliane represent the fourth generation of Spiegeltent builders.
The Belgian Klessens family
Thanks to the Belgian Klessens family the old palaces of mirrors have not sunk into oblivion. Coming from a long family tradition, the old mirror tents still have the magnificence and splendour of yesteryear. A multitude of faceted mirrors, stained glass as a legacy of a long-disappeared rainbow, traditional woodcarving, an abundance of crystal and, all around, red velvet with gold stitching. They are restored treasure chests of desire.