The arrival of the allied soldiers provided previously unseen scenes of joy, coupled with the distribution of cigarettes, chocolate and other unknown luxury products.
New American music and the relief after years of war misery caused a "low morale". The Flemish Tourist Board reacted to this situation to boost it by arranging cultural evenings and nature walks. At one such spring walk in the "Foret de Soignes" several youths from Leuven came up with the idea to start a hiking club that would also do folkdancing.
The first name of the group was "Tijl Uilenspiegel".
Publicity was made within the Leuven youth associations so successfully that by May the number of members had risen to over 40. Founder Dree Pauwels, better known in the group as Pa Dree, became president and would remain so until 1993. Since then he is Chief of the guild and honorary president and his daughter Hilde has taken over the lead.
In that same founding year it was preferred to change the name of the group to Reuzegom to identify the alliance with the city of Leuven. The melody of "het Reuzenliedje" (the Giant song) is still being played at regular intervals by the chimes of the university library of Leuven.
The next milestone in Reuzegom's history was the World Expo in 1958 at the Heysel in Brussels. At this "Expo '58" Reuzegom performed its first programme of Flemish folkdances exclusively, a first for that period!
From the sixties the group made a resolute and definite choice for Flemish folkdances. The aim of the group became the conservation and sharing of the Flemish folk art. In 1958 Reuzegom also performed for the first time at our Dutch neighbours. This marked the start of a whole series of yearly trips abroad.
Reuzegom participated in foreign folklore festivals in almost all European countries, Tunisia, Madeira and the U.S.A.
In 1995 Reuzegom celebrated its 50th birthday and was awarded with the title "Royal Folk Art Group". On 24 January 2000 the Articles of Association were published in the Belgian Government Gazette and thus Reuzegom was transformed from an associations to a non-profit making organisation.
(If you are interested in an overview of the historical background of Reuzegom, you can order the book "Reuzegom 50 jaar" - a chronicle - in Dutch only - at Paul De Belder).