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DJ RayRock. (Source: Instagram)
The reemergence of nightlife and club culture after the first wave of COVID-19 is starting to occur slowly but surely. In the United States and Canada, events are a rare, precaution-filled occurrence. However, in Europe, Japan, the Middle East, and the UK, music-filled evenings outdoors are becoming commonplace.
We talked to DJcity representatives and friends from around the world for some direct accounts of nightlife culture as the world begins to find some semblance of normalcy. This article is not a suggestion for opening procedures; instead, it is a report of how an industry attempts to restore itself during an unprecedented era.
DJ EU (Atlanta, Georgia)
“Atlanta’s bars and clubs have been open since June 1 (Ravine has remained closed). Tongue and Groove reopened on June 18 and, alongside District, are the only clubs working under safety guidelines. They eliminated hookah, the general admission section is operating at 40% or 50%, and they’re heavily selling distanced VIP tables. Also, all staff is getting tested frequently and must wear a mask at all times during their shift. Also, patrons, upon entry, receive a temperature check. Plus, they have replaced acrylic cups with plastic ones. [Tongue and Groove] is the only club I feel safe working for at the moment. Other clubs are operating at ‘zero f*cks given.’ No safety precautions are being implemented besides ‘the staff wears a mask.’ Hookahs are being sold, and they are filled at full 100% capacity.
I also am hosting/throwing a bi-weekly, Latin-influenced party called Cielo at Estrella Rooftop. I am only allowing 80 to 90 people inside at once. Everyone must wear a mask if they got to the bar to order or to the bathroom. In the rooftop open area, you can take your mask off at your discretion.
DJ RayRock (Denver, Colorado)
“I was DJing six times a week before COVID. I’m now happy with my schedule of gigging twice a month. I schedule a homie the other nights. Bars and clubs are closing at 10 PM since COVID cases are spiking among younger age groups. When I do play, the music selections are all over the place, beyond ‘open format’ if that’s even a category. I can play the Home Depot theme song, and the crowd goes wild! [I’ve] been DJing at a private club in town since the end of May. The DJ booth is up and away, with zero interactions with guests. I definitely wouldn’t feel safe if it wasn’t for that separation barrier. I also DJed at a couple of spots in Downtown Denver that reopened. But, because they were unsafe work environments, I haven’t been back. Overall the party scene doesn’t feel the same as it used to. It’s just not the same vibe right now.”
DJ Ka5 (Miami, Florida)
“No clubs are open at all. Some lounges that serve food, and restaurants opened up with ‘phase one’ reopenings. They closed right before the 4th of July. At the moment, everything is closed, and no DJs are working.”
DJ Jax (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
“I’m back spinning four days a week, but some clubs here have been converted into ‘lounges.’ Also, there are plenty of bars and restaurants putting DJs on. Plus, the brunch culture out here is dope, so that’s helped DJs. However, because all of the clubs are not open, there are still DJs without gigs.”
DJ 4Korners (Toronto, Ontario)
“We’re not nearly back to normal yet, but at least some types of events are starting to happen. I just did my first show this past weekend. It was a concert at a drive-in movie theatre just outside of Toronto. It’s the beginning of a summer series that we’re going to be touring across the region. Plus, I have a private cannabis company-sponsored patio party coming up this Saturday and some basketball related sets coming up soon too, all in and around Toronto and other parts of the Province. Things are looking up for sure!”
DJ Marvel (Vancouver, British Columbia)
“In Vancouver, I have been playing my happy hour spot Colony for the past nine weeks. It’s been good. Colony is a huge space with everyone at tables. My main club gig at Fortune Sound Club reopened as more of a lounge with tables and fake plants on the dance floor for three weeks but closed again as a precaution.”
Europe and the UK
DJ Boramy (Barcelona, Spain)
“In Spain overall, no people are allowed to be in the street from 1:30 AM to 7 AM without a real reason. The clubs closed again in Barcelona two weeks ago, and in Madrid now, all restaurants and clubs will be closing at 1:30 AM. As far as in Marbella, everything is opened at the moment. Folks like myself, Luciano, Black Coffee, Andrea Oliva, who would usually be playing in Ibiza, now have gigs here. Also, all beach clubs are open but have limited access. Therefore, only a few of them can afford a DJ.”
DJ Stresh (Paris, France)
“Only a few bars and open-air places opened in France, but still no clubs.”
DJ Bisi (Luxembourg City, Luxembourg)
“I’ve been spinning for the past five-to-six weeks. The clubs are closed, and there’s no specific date when they’re going to reopen. However, restaurants and bars are in business, and I’ve agreed on a Friday residence in a restaurant/bar with a big terrace outside. The rules are that people need to wear masks all the time except when they are seated on their specific table. As far as dancing, if they do so and they stay around their table, nothing is going to happen. In some other places, it is not tolerated, and even while music is being played, people are not allowed to stand. To play for these crowds is a bit boring, but better than nothing.”
DJ Australan (Prague, Czech Republic)
“Yes, we are back to DJing in the Czech Republic and Slovakia region, with some limitations though. Some clubs now have a one DJ policy for the night. Or, the clubs are now only a Friday or Saturday thing, only.”
DJ G-Dugz (Vienna, Austria)
“I was DJing last week in outdoor locations and some bars/lounges which have small dancefloors or no dancefloor at all. Only bars and restaurants are open, but at 1 AM everything must close. We were hoping that clubs might open at the beginning of August, but there has been no update.”
DJ AT-80 (Köln, Germany)
“Last Saturday, I played at a club which has opened an outdoor beergarden.”
DJ Strght (Dresden, Germany)
“Here in Dresden, I’m playing background music in a fitness studio called John Reed. I am also spinning in restaurants and bars with outdoor areas where they can ensure social distancing.”
DJames (London, England)
“I’ve played an afrobeats brunch at Madison, and I’m back there on Saturday.”
DJ Stressy (Sweden)
“Sweden has been very liberal. There are no recommendations/rules for masks. I’ve not had a gig since March, and my pre-coronavirus club residency will open up any time soon. Everything apart from “real” club venues were open [without regulations] until like, two months ago. Now, all venues have a ‘sit-dancing/table-dancing’ rule. Some clubs have had invite-only nights, where, because there are no more than 50 people in a venue, those rules do not apply because it is a limited, private event.
Bars, supermarkets, and shopping malls have remained open but with rules of social distancing (tape on the floor to indicate appropriate distance, etc.). The government regularly checks businesses and can close them if they don’t practice social distancing well enough.”
DJ Yuki (Japan)
“All Japanese clubs/bars have opened since July 1. But all venues are very serious about the guidelines.”
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