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.”
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.
A new wave of subculture style
“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.”
Production Club hopes to organize their first party with the Micrashells later this year. Credit: Production Club, Inc.
Dancing in the open air
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.
Drive-in events have extended beyond films for live music and theater. Here, 200 machines line up to see German DJ Alle Farben perform in Bonn, Germany. Credit: Andreas Rentz / Getty Images
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
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.”
The Berlin disco Kater Blau takes part in “United We Stream”, an effort in March by the city’s musicians, promoters and clubs to continue live music during the block. Credit: John MacDougall / AFP / Getty Images
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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