We’ve seen a whirlwind of changes in every imaginable area over the past few months, but few industries have seen bigger changes than the entertainment industry. In a world dealing with a communicable pandemic, industries that are built around providing social group settings are having to come up with new ways to operate safely. We are all adapting. Nightclubs and Covid-19 will eventually find a way to coexist, but operating at partial capacity means that as entertainment venues trickle open across the country, we will be seeing new and innovative ways to spend time with one another.
Weathering the Storm
Some of the changes have come by way of necessity. A handful of clubs have been able to tread water by shifting to delivery and pickup models, and some may continue to offer the service as they look for ways to supplement their income while operating on a smaller scale. While this is good news for people who would prefer to eat meals at home, a takeout menu without in person dining means servers aren’t being tipped, and that can make it harder for them to stay on. Sadly, this won’t be quite enough to keep some businesses afloat, and a few of your favorite spots will probably close.
In addition to the clubs and their staffs, musicians and other entertainment professionals have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Most musicians are independent contractors, and very few full-time entertainers have been receiving unemployment that equates to any type of a livable wage during the shutdown. Without multiple income streams, some of them will run into financial trouble before the scene returns, and they will be forced to look for other work. No one is quite sure yet how this will affect live entertainment in the long run, but creative club owners have been finding ways to bring live music back wherever they can.
In many states across the country, local governments have allowed bars and restaurants to open at limited capacity. Often, this means they are closing off every other booth, removing many of their bar stools, and finding creative table arrangements to safely seat as many patrons as possible. Depending on what kind of floor plan you have, this can prove to be difficult, and sometimes further cuts capacity below the allowable percentage. It’s an ongoing struggle for owners who aren’t allowed to seat enough people to make reopening pay off.
As we continue dealing with limited indoor capacity, those who have the option are moving business outdoors. Taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather, some bars and restaurants have expanded seating areas into sidewalks, parking lots, and even the street. Some venues that sit on larger properties have even set up outdoor stages to accommodate drive-in concerts. None of these things add up to the same club experience we were used to prior to the pandemic, but we are being opened up to the possibility of all kinds of new and different experiences, which may give partygoers a variety of cool things to do on the other side of all this.
Any available outdoor space is fair game, and don’t be surprised to see new construction incorporating more outdoor spaces into their design. Each geographic region has seasons that may make for uncomfortable outdoor seating, and needs to be accounted for. It will be interesting to see how each region handles the changing seasons.
A Return to Normalcy
As cities and states begin to allow for larger gatherings, the small to medium-sized venues will likely be the first to return. That’s us. You know how intimate and private The Exchange is. Smaller venues give guests the ability to keep themselves at comfortable distances and reduce the possibility that an event gets too large and crowded.
Also, stadiums and festival grounds aren’t feasible locations when gatherings are limited to anything less than thousands of people. Things aren’t going to go completely back to pre-COVID normal, but with increased cleaning and safety protocols in place, we will eventually return to the bar to hang out with our friends.
While the future of clubbing remains unclear, we do know that the industry will survive and that we have dedicated professionals who will work within health guidelines and local mandates to ensure people are still able to get out and get down. Whatever it looks like, we will all love it, because we’ll finally get a taste of the human interaction we’ve gone so long without.