De Borrelbunker

Most students spend a significant part of their time on drinks (borrels). He who has not been walking around in the Gorlaeus for too long knows nothing but that every Thursday afternoon it is the most natural thing in the world to go to the Science Club. However, this has been different in the past. Here, attention will be paid to the legendary predecessor of the Science Club: the BorrelBunker.

This is dated from the academic year 1990-1991. Our beautiful association has had a wonderful past and there have been multiple excursions to foreign countries. But something is missing. The CBC of course! The Chemische Borrel Commissie (Chemical Drinks Committee) was born. The first culprits: Léon Broer, Liesbeth van Buijsen, Helen Brantjes and Aldo Schaap. Since there was no Science Club or comparable room, a café in Leiden was used once a month on Tuesday evening for drinks.

Not much is known about the fate of the CBC in the years between its foundation and its conversion to the Bar Committee when the BorrelBunker was taken into use. However, just before the opening of the BorrelBunker, a number of great recommendations were made. For example, the frequency of the get-togethers was good, but we liked to organise the get-togethers on the second Tuesday of the month as standard.

For guidance, it was decided to keep three cafes in Leiden as favourite pubs: Cheers, de Branderij and de Droomfabriek.

A survey was held among the first year students to find out their wishes. The response was great, 94% of the sent surveys was filled in and returned to the CBC. The conclusions that were drawn from this research are clear: theme drinks are very popular, provided the theme is somewhat in line with the interests of the students. For example, a pool billiard themed drink is considered a very good idea by 55%, but a jam session themed drinks is not a very good idea. 

Finally, 28% of the first year students have no problem with visiting a café in another city. Amsterdam and Utrecht were mentioned as possible bases. It was promised that a survey will also be held among the older students, but nothing about this can be found in the annual reports. 

Adje Gadro

Dhr. A. Gadro, well-known as Adje, is since 1995 connected to the BorrelBunker. This beer-drinking mole has written many pieces for the Chimica’s, almanacs and even annual reports. The most special thing is that even Heineken managed to find him. After a few years of experience in organising drinks regularly, people started to think perhaps a weekly drink could be organised. Around 1994 the plan arose to create a bar in the Gorlaeus Building. Several conversations followed with older gentleman within the faculty.

At first, the idea was to set the bar underneath the staircase so the hall became a central meeting place. Apparently not very fond of this idea, the Faculty Board eventually made a couter-proposal which the CDL agreed to. A niche in the cellars of the LCP would be cleared (under the current NMR department) where the newly established Bar Committee could place their bar. A group of seven enthusiastic chemists were allowed to call themselves the first Bar Committee and they fulfilled their role with verve. A tap was ‘arranged’ and soon the space also had a name: de BorrelBunker. De BorrelBunker even got a permanent resident and mascot: Adje Gad. De BorrelBunker festively opened its doors on October 10, 1995. 

De BorrelBunker was a great success. Open every Thursday from 3:30-6:30 PM with beer and soda for bargain prices, many chemists found his or her way into the basement. More and more AiOs and the few staff members also managed to find theur way better and better. In 1999 de BorrelBunker had a turnover of more than 17,000 gulden.

After a few years, de BorrelBunker had to move. The NMR department was expanding and a few big magnets were placed right above the BorrelBunker. A little further into the basement, next to the old CDL and LIFE boardrooms, a new bar was set up, complete with a new tap installation, a beautifully handcrafted bar, tables, chairs, benches and even what passed as a piano. The old space was used as storage then, where the old mobile tap remained. 

In the new space, drinks were held again. Although the number of students plummeted (from 500 CDL members in the initial phase to just 150 members in 2001), the get-togethers remained enjoyable. The BorrelBunker Foundation was no longer only in the hands of the CDL. The Leidse Biologen Club, LIFE and Aesculapius all had a say through the Raad van Commissarissen (Supervisory Board) and could also provide board members. 

Inwerking à la de BorrelBunker

 A professional Tappersgilde belongs to a professional bar. A training, including a course on how to tap a beer, could not lack. This training was quite a challenging affair. The CO2 bottle was turned open all the way, the pressure increased until its barrel cracked and the aspiring barman was instructed to draw a whistle of beer. Foam with two fingers of course. You will understand that this did not go well the first time and many a whistle was lost. However, if the barman had mastered this, drawing a perfect beer on every tap was a piece of cake.

Unfortunately, on all good things must come an end. The number of visitors of the BorrelBunker decreased and the resistance of the Faculty Board against a bar in the depths of the Gorlaeus Building grew. In April 2009 the BorrelBunker received its last invoice from Heineken and in September of the same year the BorrelBunker closed its doors for good. However, this was done under one strict condition: the students had a certain right over the past 15 years, which they would not just let themselves be taken away. In exchange for closing the BorrelBunker, a new bar was built, ultimately less than 50 metres from the first ideas for a bar. Much has been reserved: the tap installation from the BorrelBunker is now in the Foobar in the Snellius, the mobile tap is mobile again and we can go to the Science Club for drinks. And Adje? He is still here too!