Have you stopped to think when and if you’ll ever be grooving in a club to the beats that seem to pump through your veins? If the thought of this remaining a distant dream haunts you, you aren’t the only one. The Coronavirus pandemic has turned our worlds and disco-bars upside down in myriad different ways and it suffices to say that the shots, the mad energy and the dancing with a bunch of people in close quarters will have to wait. For how long? We can’t tell. Bingedaily spoke to DJs in Mumbai and asked them what’s the future of clubbing. It isn’t very pleasant.
How did the pandemic affect clubbing?
The beat stopped, the lights went out, the alcohol stopped flowing, and clubs downed their shutters with the onset of the pandemic and lockdown. As the disco balls stood still there was little or nothing to be done except to wait. Clubs across the country and borders faced heavy losses, and there was the grim possibility that did nothing to calm fears - what after the lockdown was lifted? Club owners, nightlife staff, bouncers, artists were left in the lurch.
Neil Creado, a DJ at OnEdge - a band that performs live at the well-known clubs of Mumbai, says the scene was certainly frightening. To think clubbing wouldn’t ever be what it was, was something unbelievable, not just for club owners but DJs alike. “My band’s name suggests what I love doing - keeping you folks on edge, getting you tapping your feet and nodding your head and getting in the groove. As I say, the night is always young. But, of course, things are very different now.”
Why isn’t nightlife the same anymore?
The TNO duo, famous for performing at Sunburn music festival say that prior to the pandemic, there were many who used to party every weekend but people are now scared to even venture out of their homes. “From raving at clubs and music festivals to watching online gigs, the scene has drastically changed.”
TNO - an award-winning DJ / Music Producer duo consists of Reneesh Donga and Abhishek Rajak from India. They have been delivering hits into electronic music genre (EDM industry) since the beginning of their duo project in 2016 and now are well known all over the world for their signature electronic sounds.
Other DJs have similar opinions. MissyK, a DJ and music producer from India creates and performs electronic dance music. She is the official DJ for international producer Dr Zeus and Indian ace rapper Ikka. She believes that even though clubs being empty till the scene settles down is the safest bet, for how long can this continue? “No one would want to compromise on the safety of themself and their loved ones. Though the bigger picture points to the fact that life cannot go on at the same pace as before, people need to de-stress and relax, and where’s the best place to do that? A club! Music is the best healer. You can literally dance your worries away.”
“People have seen enough and we don’t know what’s around the corner. Let’s try and live to the fullest.”
In the new world where being 6 feet apart from another is the new norm, would dancing like a pack of sardines be a viable option anymore? And if not, would clubbing lose its meaning forever?
Why clubbing post-pandemic isn’t a viable option?
“Social distancing norms are hard enough to implement when people are sober. What more when they’re drunk? Definitely, a problem that would baffle the authorities. Even though clubs have started with their operations a few weeks ago, there remains the challenge of social distance protocols. Once people are high on booze, social distancing goes for a toss,” says Neil.
But the real question is, how have clubs been doing during this dreary time? The scene hasn’t been great for business, but have you stopped to think what those places that were once filled with energy, now seem?
The clubs feel spookily empty
Neil tells us how haunting it is to be a mere spectator these days at clubs where he’d earlier be performing and see the walls throb with the energy. “The silence is haunting. It is spooky. Where once we’d see crowds, there’s a void in its place now. Half the people do not have jobs, while the other half suffers pay cuts. While people are losing jobs, you’d hardly expect them to blow up their savings on a weekend clubbing. All in all, a bad scene.”
“There was always a certain magic associated with the dance floor in a club. You needn’t know the moves, or have the perfect twist or turn or even bother about getting it right. It was a free space. It’s losing that magic now,” he says.
MissyK is of the opinion that since the past few years, nightlife has made its mark, especially in metropolitan cities. “People have gotten accustomed to it, and cannot erase it entirely from their lives. The clubs are spookily empty. But Covid is a harsh reality and we need to address it. The future of clubbing will spring back because you can keep a party animal in a cage but you can't take away the fire to the party which is burning in them.”
DJs miss seeing the energy!
While clubbers do miss the vibe, there is a certain other group that misses it more - DJs. “As artists, there’s a thrill. Being behind the deck and watching happiness being expressed at what you’re playing. You can literally watch these happy faces saying goodbye to every care in the world. It’s an instant result to the music, and works to motivate us and keep us wanting to do better and better,” says Neil.
With nightclubs in India planning on making a comeback in a new avatar, will this be the case anymore? “No one really knows,” says Neil, “But it’s safe to say we can say goodbye to what was. There are new norms, and even though club owners know these ruin the vibe, they’d rather keep their clubs running with these in place. No one wants to lose out on business. Government regulations keep changing, and things are dicey. What is a huge annoyance is the unpredictability of our event schedules.”
While earlier events were booked months in advance, and one would still find it hard to get a slot, the undecidedness of the pandemic has put DJs and clubs in a fix. “Even if we do have events planned, they could just not materialise due to the changing nature of what’s happening.”
There is a bright light for the future of clubbing. Just a ray.
Just as you think the scene is hopeless and you’d rather jive to some hard rock in your bedroom, Neil says there might just be a little ray at the end of a crappy tunnel. “Post-pandemic may take months or years and the idea of partying has gone through its own revolution of sorts during this transition phase of the lockdown. While you let that sink in, there’s a possibility the vaccine may enable clubbing to make a come back.”
The TNO duo is hopeful too of things taking a turn for the better. “The hunger for the dancefloor is rising and we can't wait for everything to come back to normal and to be back on decks.”
“Clubbing can be paused for some time but it'll come back for sure. There's gonna be even more people in the clubs than before because the world cannot survive without entertainment and nightlife is a huge part of it.”
Are you ever going to be ready to put yourself in contact with a room of strangers, bodies sticking to each other, vaccine or no vaccine? The answer may give you goosebumps.