OMG, I wanna go dancing so bad. Sooooo BAD!
It’s been a full year in the UK since we could ‘cut some rug’ on the dance floor. 12 months worth of Saturday nights at home in front of the TV, trying to stave off the utter horror of Lockdown as we live through a global pandemic, unlike anything we’ll probably ever experience again in our lifetime.
Mental health concerns are at an all-time high and any thread of hope is clung onto with the passion of a sports fan one point down with mere moments left on the clock. So imagine the mood of the country back in late February when the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced his ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ which included a provisional date for reopening nightclubs.
In a word: Elation.
Ticket sales have gone through the roof, promoters have revealed plans for nights until the end of the year. Even festivals are getting lobbying support to make Government underwrite insurance schemes. The country has been reinvigorated overnight.
We can see that light at the end of this exceptionally long tunnel; we can hear the bass line again. But even with this new energy, unique and interesting problems exist in clubland which pumps the brakes on restarting our obsession with the dance floor.
This is a big one. And at the core of it is whether we agree to having our information stored at a national level just to get into a club in the first place.
Having the vaccine is a personal decision, and at time of print, is still not mandatory. Nevertheless, clubs and festivals have to be responsible for their patrons and do need a way of monitoring who’s coming to the party.
On the door testing isn’t a feasible approach. Even with the quickest tests, it’s a 15 minute process; you need somewhere for the subjects to socially distance and the time for everyone to be tested.
So if you have a large space of over 1000 capacity the logistics alone make it impossible. The back of the queue would be waiting until to lights go up at the end of the event.
An app, or passport where the testing has been completed beforehand appears the most cost-effective, sensible alternative and yet it’s weighed down by huge – and legitimate – concerns on data storage, privacy and ethics.
During the 2019-20 fiscal year, the UK Information Commission reported nearly 500 data breaches from the Government, many of which required the affected companies to take ‘remedial action’.
So what hope does an app for some 65 Million UK residents have? What might prove easier to manage is a VR code or physical ID/certificate, although the VR App trialled in South Korea last summer was unable to mitigate the uptick in cases (which were blamed on nightclubs).
Several European countries have plans in place for vaccine passports including clubbing hotspots, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Italy, and Spain. Countries for whom music tourism is a substantial percentage of their GDP.
The only thing for sure to come from this is that within the web of red tape and bureaucracy of the EU, some joined-up thinking will be required to achieve parity between each countries national policy.
Insurance is one of the silence costs of clubland, but if you want to hold an event it’s a necessary evil you have to budget for. They always considered bad weather in the figures, but in recent times, clubs and festivals have had to add terrorism and now global pandemic to that.
Covid-19 is considered a communicable disease and festivals and clubs simply aren’t covered yet. This single thing has stopped both Ultra Miami, SXSW and Extrema Outdoor costing local economies millions. If nothing is done, its likely Coachella in April will follow leaving a $1billion shortfall… not to mention 100s of Hollywood actors with nowhere to go dancing!
Joking aside, its a tough situation. Current rules state you cannot retroactively add to your policy: “You can’t insure against something that is happening,” says Steven Howell from UK firm, Music Insurance Brokers, in a recent Guardian feature. “If your house is on fire, you can’t then decide to buy insurance.” A certain amount of holding your nerve seems to be the only solution.
In the US, it’s a given that international guests need a work visa to come play a show, but in Europe, many of the countries – including the UK until Brexit was finalised – have a frictionless system.
Known as the Schengen Zone, a number of bordering European countries allow their residences and foreign nationals to travel across borders without needing to show a passport or visa paperwork, so long as you’re only visiting.
That’s about to change radically because of how the UK has left the Euro Zone completely; everyone now needs a visa to travel or work abroad. But even more basically, international travel is likely to be hindered by how airlines adapt to the new normal and whether passengers can accept those changes (and possible increases in costs).
Differing National Covid Standards
“Sweden was open for some periods last year but not all nightlife has been open. In Malmö they had some Danes partying last summer but Swedish authorities weren’t pleased with this. I’ve also seen illegal raves in Sweden with some unknown DJs from Denmark playing but it hasn’t really had any effect on the situation here.”
Tim Andresen, owner of Danish clubbing hotspot, Culture Box, has hosted everyone from Sven Vath to Anek and been at the forefront of the Danish House scene for over 20 years. “We haven’t had any info from the Danish government regarding a reopening of the nightlife. There’s vaccine plans in place but that isn’t necessarily the same as nightlife restarting. They have previously mentioned about a reopening being in steps with this part probably opening up last.”
Unfortunately, that seems to be the case across the world: clubland can wait. But with various national support packages allowing businesses to furlough staff at between 10 -80% regular salary, it’s a long time coming to see the dance floors of the world full to capacity.
In the UK, a report from the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) stated some 85% of employees were actively seeking new employment and a large number of small businesses wouldn’t last past March. All this means the clubland we re-inhabit in the summer might not be the same as we were made to leave it: uncared for but not forgotten.
So let’s engage in the ticket sales, hope that everything gets going without too much hassle and get back to dancing under the stars and losing your minds to that awesome bassline again.