Night clubs and bars in cities such as Chengdu, Shanghai and Shenzhen have reopened their doors, for the first time since closing at the start of the CoronaVirus pandemic in January. Nyshka Chandran writing for Resident Advisor finds out how they’re recovering.
“Clubs are taking every safety precaution possible, including regular cleaning and disinfecting dance floors. Before entering spaces, people undergo mandatory temperature checks and scan a QR code on their phones that indicates their health status. Once inside, many keep their masks on.”
Looking at the positive impact on the scene:
The lack of overseas artists is “a good opportunity to make the local community stronger and for newer DJs to grow,” Daily Vinyl’s Chen said. “Lineups are 100 percent local these days, and that’s great,” echoed Ng in Chengdu. “DJs who would never get to play peak time in main rooms are now getting their chance. International booking cancellations has meant club rosters are filling their weekends with fresh local faces.”
As Chinese nightlife slowly gets started again, hopes are high that the music communities will come back stronger than ever.
Ng said, “People have been practicing their art, resting and now gradually beginning to perform to thirsty crowds with renewed energy.”
From lockdown to long-term, cities are asking how we re-envision urban systems to coexist with the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Those new visions must extend into—and through the night. At VibeLab we are seeking local strategies, global best practices, and development support as we work on producing a Global Nighttime Recovery Plan.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown nighttime economies and cultures into uncertainty across the globe. Cultural, community, and economic activity at night is essential to a city’s vibrancy and productivity, and supports numerous local and international industries: The nighttime economy is the UK’s fifth-largest industry. It supports almost 300,000 jobs and is responsible for $35bn in total annual economic output in New York City. One subset of the NTE alone—club culture—draws 3 million tourists to Berlin each year. But in an era of limited public and communal gathering, nighttime industries are particularly vulnerable. As cities worldwide begin to shift from lockdown to longer-term solutions, we must re-envision how urban systems coexist with the ongoing threat of COVID-19—and those systems must extend into the night.
Nighttime industries worldwide are facing unique priorities and pressures, but they are also led by strategic problem solvers, creative minds and DIYers, and collaborative, resourceful organizers. These cross-sector leaders, when mobilized, can be key to a city’s emerging stronger and more resilient than before. Considering both spatial and temporal dimensions of a city—ie, 24-hour city planning—will be key to designing necessary social distancing into urban life and spaces.
In recent weeks, VibeLab has initiated a global dialogue among various expert groups including night mayors and commissioners, scholars and academics to exchange knowledge and support each other.
Planning for Recovery
With the support of our network, VibeLab is developing a global nighttime recovery plan. Developed in discussion with public health leaders, urban designers and planners, nighttime industry leaders, and drawing from nighttime cities and other industries implementing strategic recovery measures, the plan will cover a comprehensive timeline:
1. RESOLVE: Analysis of cities’ immediate actions to contain COVID-19 spread – where most stakeholders are today
2. RESILIENCE and RETURN: Tools and strategies to shape recovery
3. REIMAGINATION and REFORM: Scenario planning to define the next normal
This plan will utilize case studies to present workable solutions for cities of many sizes, geographical and economic contexts, and multiple models of nighttime governance.
Our thinking, like yours, is evolving from day to day, and we cannot yet predict when each city will restart its life at night. But it is certain that the decisions that cities and organizations make in the coming weeks and months will shape the outcome of this pandemic—and the strength of nighttime industries for decades to come.
VibeLab is actively seeking:
- partner cities to participate in case studies
- development support from funding partners
- community input
In the coming weeks, VibeLab will host conversations to inform strategy and resources that can be adopted worldwide. Please reach out via interest form through May 15, or direct questions to email@example.com.
Berlin Clubcommissioner Lutz Leichsenring + former Amsterdam night mayor Mirik Milan are co-founders of VibeLab, which engages, connects, and counsels cross-sector stakeholders to keep cities vibrant and flourishing after dark. VibeLab has consulted on the formation of nightlife offices and commissions in London, Madrid, New York, Tokyo, Vienna, Los Angeles, and more, and continues to facilitate idea exchange and implementation for communities, institutions, government agencies and brands worldwide.
Julie Donofrio is a planner, urban designer, and managing director of PennPraxis at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design.
Michael Fichman is a city planner, researcher and lecturer at PennPraxis at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design. He is also a nightlife organizer and musician, and is an Emerging City Champions fellowship recipient for his work with 24HrPHL.
Diana Raiselis is a German Chancellor Fellow with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, researching the role of nightlife in sustainable cities. She is a founding member of the Los Angeles Nightlife Alliance.
Andreina Seijas is a Venezuelan researcher and international consultant in nocturnal governance and planning. She is currently a Teaching Fellow, Research Fellow and Doctoral Candidate at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
Would you be interested in finding out more about a Global Nighttime Recovery Plan?
We have developed a survey in order for you to register your interest, take part, stay up to date or plan development.
Derek Robertson writing for NME covers updates from the only show in Europe: inside Sweden’s controversial socially distanced gigs.
Plan B, a Malmö venue with a long history of unorthodoxy, continues to put on shows – capped at audiences of 40 – as the continent endures lockdown.
Fiercely DIY and independent, Plan B serves as welcoming space for the types of artists poorly served by more mainstream venues.
Read the full article which includes opinions from the club organisers and performers.
Gabriel Szatan writes for the Guardian about the current “live music postponement paradox: the friction between those seeing 2020 as a write-off vs those hoping it’s salvageable.”
Exploring the loss of agency when international touring breaks down, and what it means when no-one can decide what ‘next’ looks like.
As we long for our event spaces to reopen, could this period of lockdown provide an opportunity to evaluate the globalisation of our scene?
“This gives me reason to think it is communal spaces, not flights, that are inextricably linked with the music industry. Shared experience, not fast travel, is the lifeblood of our scene. From an audience perspective, the prospect of returning to more regional scenes with a bigger focus on residencies seems like a gift, just as long as we could all be together in one room again. Finally, as Clean Scene points out, slow gigging “enable[s] deeper cultural and personal connections” between performer, place and crowd.”
Amplify Music is piloting a virtual gathering and conference to bring together diverse music leaders and creators online to learn and share from local community response, emergent solutions, and heroic efforts to support local artists, venues, creative communities, and support networks in the surge/challenges of the COVID-19.
- Unique practices that may transfer to other areas
- Ways to learn between great ecosystems and communities of communities
- New combinations of business and community models – bridges beyond streaming
- “After” – rebuilding trust, conflicts for space/time/funds, challenges of funding in a community rebuilding mode
The virtual gathering will take place this Friday April 17, 2020
The 25 hour conference will take place April 23/24, 2020.
Register to be involved here
Marcel Pantera, stalwart of the Dutch festival landscape and owner of entertainment industry concept and strategy agency, Treat, uses his substantial experience in event execution and attendee behaviour to speculate on how the events landscape will change when the world is once again able to gather, create and celebrate en masse.
“What happens when we can go outside again? Has the world changed? Have we changed? Will the experiences that we were not missing ever come back? How does the world look in the Post-Corona era?Online there are many tools and programs to maintain contact, have meetings, share common projects, listen to music, play games and watch streamed content. And yet, we know this cannot be compared to the real deal. And that’s why we’re going to get back together, physically.
– After all, nothing compares to the unspoken language that only a face-to-face meeting will uncover –”
Read the full feature from Marcel Pantera here.
The New York Times writes about the integral role of the Pub in British society.
“Through two world wars, Britain’s pubs stayed open. Their closure now, for the first time in the country’s history, is forcing some to seek creative alternatives.
“Up and down England, there are small towns and villages with one pub,” Mr. White said. “If that one pub closes, you change the whole fabric of society.”
Historically, pubs were open 24 hours a day, but that started to change in the early 19th century, when they would briefly close on Sundays for church services. Everything changed during World War I, Mr. Jennings explained, as the government at the time claimed that drunkenness was undermining the war effort. (“It probably wasn’t,” Mr. Jennings said.)
Read the full article in the New York Times.
Milan club Social Music City has offered its space to be used by Italian emergency services until the end of April.
In a statement released this week, it was revealed that the club’s 20,000 square meters would be made available to emergency services in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which much of the space being modified into accommodation for