Clubs and alternative nightlife have been subject to a numerous amount of threats over the past years, may it be gentrification and the urge for spaces, socio-cultural pressure (for instance in Tbilisi) or on a financial scale. The new coronavirus ‘COVID-19’ has undoubtedly affected our lives in many ways. For nightlife, it is yet another challenge to face and comes with severe economic consequences that form a threat to the survival of the electronic music scenes we care so much for. What are the impacts that come with a pandemic on nightlife? How do we stay informed? But even more importantly: how can we help?
Gatherings and events are halted on a global scale – for most countries at least for the upcoming months. For many clubs this comes with a lot of uncertainty if they will be able to open once this is all over. The creatives running some of these clubs are in a position where they are unable to pay for the rents, taxes and loans without a stream of income. Some venues lying close to our hearts are facing the threat of closure. Clubs like Salon zur den Wilden Renate in Berlin and Ved Siden Af in Copenhagen amongst many others have launched online funding campaigns to survive.
The economic impact not only hits the venues, but has caused for a chain reaction of unemployment. The DJs playing these clubs and events lose their gigs. It affects bartenders, door hosts, security staff, graphic designers, sound engineers, music journalists, booking agencies. Festivals are cancelled and record stores are closing. It affects the freelancers and people with 0-hour contracts or working for black money. It especially hits hard to those nightlife workers that are vulnerable and have no access to other financial support systems.
In response to the outbreak, some countries like the Netherlands and Germany have committed to supporting the cultural sector and provide aid. However, there’s also been an outreach from the community to the community. Resident Advisor has launched a campaign named #SaveOurScene. In an open letter they wrote towards the electronic music community, they emphasize what nightlife has given us. Friendships, partners, jobs, spaces where we can explore ourselves and others, where we meet like-minded people, where we can process, where we can let go, where we share the values of ‘love, peace, unity and respect,’ and take them with us outside of the clubs. But it are these spaces that are in the threat of closing right now.
Once this is all over, and the question may be ‘when’, ‘if’ and ‘how’, we will need those spaces for the continuation of those values. RA has therefore asked the community to think twice about asking for a refund, to take action in whatever way you can to ensure the survival of our scenes.
To find out what you can do, Resident Advisor has launched an insightful article on how to help out the electronic music community – by donating, signing petitions, buying music and merch and to attend (and donate to) virtual events. Take for example the great initiative of United We Stream. A digital club brought to you by the Berlin Club Commission and Reclaim Club Culture aimed at financially supporting Berlin’s closed clubs – which currently collectively hold 9,000 employees. Through their daily livestreams with high quality line ups, webshops and donations from visitors, they can offer a relief fund to aid clubs and event organizers in need.
Some other great initiatives are those like the initiative of Boiler Room, who will launch a series of live streams from artists’ homes and studios. Donations can be made and funds raised will go to the Global FoodBanking Network. Or take Berlin Collective Action: Nightlife Emergency Fund, a fund that provides financial aid to at-risk nightlife workers with a focus on the most vulnerable, including women, queer, trans, non-binary people, low-income gig workers, non-EU migrants, BIPOC, sex workers, the immunocompromised, the disabled and those unsafe in quarantine.
For those working in the music industry directly affected by the coronavirus, Crack Magazine, Resident Advisor and Room4Resistance have launched useful articles, listing resources offering funds and support and many other useful information surrounding nightlife and COVID-19.
Techno4Hire is an initiative that aims to connect workers in nightlife and beyond with work through Instagram. You can check out their channel here.
To stay up to date on the night communities internationally, the nightmayor of Berlin, Lutz Leichsenring and the former nightmayor of Amsterdam, Mirik Milan have launched a news website called Night Time through which they keep you posted on how night communities across the world are responding to the coronavirus.
From my point of view, the upcoming period will be a time of reflection and one that challenges our mental health. It’s a period that will test our adaptability to change. It will be a time that urges us to think creatively, to move with what is given and accepting the current situation. Our time inside provides us with the opportunity to face parts of ourselves that we weren’t aware of. Some of those – less pretty. It may be challenging, but it can also be something beautiful. What do you want to bring back into the world once this is all over?
We can use this period to our advantage. Use the time you have to reflect, rest and create. For the creatives in nightlife, it can be a time to practice your skill and come back harder than before. Channel those feelings you’re experiencing and put them to good use through a creative outlet. May it be in music production and mixing – for (beginning) DJs for example, Octo Octa and Eris Drew have launched some useful PDFs with tips and tricks on the website of their label T4T Luv NRG. Or by mastering your (graphic) design, create your upcoming rave outfits, write, paint, draw and read.
You don’t have to go out every weekend to be a part of this community. Participate in nightlife by staying home, catch up on some electronic music reads on Electronic Beats, Resident Advisor, Crack Magazine, MixMag – and of course Cadence Culture ;-). Dance at home and listen to one of the many live streams, visit virtual events or listen to daily sets like those of the master Freddy K.
It’s also a time to stand still for a moment, to be thankful for our local and international electronic music scenes and what they have given us. You might feel alone and isolated right now, but it’s in these times to remember how we’ve always been a community, sharing the same values and doing things together. Below are 10 documentaries to remind you how we’re all different but all fight for the same (and they’re also just very fun to watch).
- Exploring Ukraine’s Underground Rave Revolution
- Raving Iran
- Universal Techno
- Palestine underground
- Real Scenes: Berlin
- Georgia’s Rave Revolution
- Real scenes: Tokyo
- The Sound of Belgium
- The birth of Melbourne’s rave scene
- Britain’s illegal rave renaissance
- And three documentaries extra for the Dutch speaking amongst us:
30 Years of Dutch Dance