How will we celebrate after the pandemic?

How will we celebrate after the pandemic?

Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

In clubs all over the world, the once-crowded dance floors have been empty for months. If you need to remember, clubbing is a close contact activity: people share drinks, hugs, kisses and generally invade personal space until the early hours of the morning.

And while this evasion and the possibility of discharging some steam could be welcome after extensive blockages around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, the current situation raises problems for nightlife. How can people safely hit the dance floor in accordance with the new social removal measures?

Some early attempts to reopen live music clubs and venues provided clues as to what the future of nightlife could hold. In China, where night clubs have been reopened, participants undergo temperature checks before entering and recording their personal information to facilitate contact traceability. The premises offer additional precautions such as disposable cups and hourly disinfection of the bathroom.

In Shanghai, nightlife staff wear masks and disinfect patrons’ bars and clubs. Credit: Hector Retamal / AFP / Getty Images

“Fear is the challenge,” said Shane Davis, co-founder and creative director of the Brooklyn public office, during the video chat. “It’s the fear of the unknown, the fear of being among the people you don’t necessarily trust.”

In South Korea, a group of new cases connected to discos forced all bars and clubs in Seoul to temporarily close only a few weeks after social exclusion measures were eased. Just last weekend, people gathered to dance in an open-air venue in Münster, Germany – perhaps the first electronic party sanctioned in Europe by the wave of infections forced the premises to close.

For decades, night clubs and raves have provided a sense of community in times of social or political upheaval, one that has often thrived under limits and restrictions.

In the 1970s, New York City nightclubs offered a safe haven for LGBTQ visibility; in 1988, the rebellious and hedonistic parties of house acid swept the UK and gave rise to a completely new musical movement; in the 1990s, German techno flourished after the fall of the Berlin Wall, unifying the once separate youth of the country.

While many clubs will struggle to stay afloat without filling capacity every weekend, it seems that design, technology and a little creative ingenuity can help reshape the way people return to night clubs, even if it is not allowed no contact. Here are some ways the party could continue in 2020 and beyond.

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A new wave of subculture style

A Los Angeles studio has imagined protective gear that appears to have come out of “Tron”. The Micrashell concept is a suit and helmet with a N95 particulate filter that can be worn over clothing. To keep the design airtight and – in theory – virus-free, the wearer drinks from alcohol containers integrated into the suit and communicates through integrated speakers. The Production Club, which also plans world tours for DJs and electronic artists, is currently prototyping the concept and seeking funding, hoping to offer them in bulk in places that can only function with limited capacity.

“What we designed would not have been a piece of medical equipment,” said creative director Miguel Risueño. “Because then it’s a negative aspect rather than something that makes you happy.” Credit: Production Club, Inc.

“We decided that we had to find a solution to report the events, not in a year but tomorrow,” said creative director Miguel Risueño. “We had the idea of ​​creating a dress that allows you to socialize.” Recognizing the history of the club’s culture and customs, Risueño and his team opted for an improved futuristic neon design.

“What we designed wasn’t going to be a piece of medical equipment,” he said. “Because then it’s a negative aspect rather than something that makes you happy.”

Personal protective equipment (PPE) may start as needed – newly opened clubs require or strongly encourage masks – but surgical masks and disposable gloves are unlikely to remain the norm for a long time. Club fashion has often embraced style trends that serve a purpose, from hand fans to keep you cool as you dance, to handkerchiefs offering a coded system for sexual identity and relationships.
Production Club hopes to organize their first party with the Micrashells later this year.

Production Club hopes to organize their first party with the Micrashells later this year. Credit: Production Club, Inc.

The masks, in particular, already have a history in the club scene and particular subcultures inside: the cyber goths connect to science fiction themes with PVC or gas masks and the delinquent ker put together colored masks with beads. At festivals, attendees often wear bandanas to protect themselves from the elements. Clothing can also provide other precautionary barriers. Bigger than life avant-garde silhouettes he had a prominent role among the kids of the New York club in the 90s and could be playfully revisited to keep others at a distance.
Even if rave suits don’t catch on, wearable technology can live up to the challenge. Yeah, the technology company based in Brooklyn StrongArm Tech created a device the size of a mobile phone that can alert someone if another person is closer than one meter and capture the information needed to track contacts. Although it has been advertised as a way for people to safely return to work, similar devices could be used in bars and clubs.

Dancing in the open air

Outdoor places are more likely to thrive after the pandemic subsides. At the recent event in Münster, the Coconut Beach event staff added another level of social distance through circles on the floor spaced 1.5 meters apart. That tactic has been seen again in a recent one TikTok video from Slovakia, where partygoers gathered under an underpass to dance in isolated squares.

While Spain facilitates its blockade, the country will allow indoor premises to operate with a maximum of only 80 people – an unsustainable capacity for spaces that often fit hundreds or thousands of users – while up to 800 people will be allowed in places outdoors. As a result, ticket prices may rise. In the case of the Coconut Beach party, which only offered admission to 100 people, tickets cost 70 Euros ($ 77 USD) each.

Limited entry may push more dance events underground, which entails greater risk. Unauthorized raves in the woods or open fields, of the type that swept the UK in the 1980s and 1990s, and which still arise today, could see a renaissance as a response to new restrictions or closed clubs. In Leeds, UK, three people were arrested this week for attending a Party for 200 people on a protected nature reserve.
Meanwhile, in Schüttorf, Germany, the promoters looked to the cinema for a new – and safer – type of dance party, organizing a drive-in rave who kept everyone isolated in their cars.

Motorists also entered a field in Bonn where DJ Frans Zimmer, aka Alle Farben, performed at the “BonnLive Autokonzerte”, a series of car concerts inspired by the need to distance yourself from social media.

Virtual streams and listening rooms

All over the world, clubs have made people dance in the privacy of their home, making their programming virtual. In New York, with over 25,000 restaurants and nightclubs interrupted by the virus, Brooklyn clubs hosted dance parties on Zoom or built their own websites for live streaming. They include the online effort of Public Records, Public access, which Davis calls a “24-hour music television channel,” which featured an eclectic mix of audio and images.

Until people can freely dance indoors again, clubs will have to figure out how to adapt to social exclusion measures. “The dance floor will adapt,” said Davis. “It may not be the same dance floor with people (wearing) masks, but perhaps a completely different experience.”

This could include more “listening experiences,” he said, instead of the traditional dance parties – more like the sound cafes and smaller popular clubs in Tokyo, which proliferated due to the country’s ten-year ban on dancing after midnight. In Berlin, nightlife is witnessing drastic changes as the locals attempt to safely welcome customers – clubs that typically stay open for more than 60 hours at a time, such as the sprawling outdoor-indoors Sisyphos club, open tenuous as beer gardens with live music, with dance not yet allowed.

New York City is still, at least, more than a month away from the reopening of the music venues, but it will face the same challenges as other international venues that seek to operate under the laws of the new cities. What Davis doesn’t want is to sacrifice the spirit of public records, which could be hampered by highly monitored events with limited capacity.

“The beauty of nightlife … is that element of possibility” to be with others who “are unfamiliar and excited,” said Davis. “If we are unable to reach that level of experience, we will simply do something completely different until we can again.”


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