I would like to start off by saying my condolences goes out to everyone who has lost their life to coronavirus. We are living in unprecedented times.
Cast your mind back 14 months ago to 11th March 2020. On this day, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic. The whole world went into lockdown. You could not leave your house unless you were going to the supermarket, businesses shut down indefinitely and most people went on furlough. The most noticeable lifestyle change, however, was the change in hygiene habits...no contact with anyone, wash hands more frequently, wear masks, do coronavirus tests frequently. At first these changes probably felt a little surreal, but have since become the norm.
One of the industries which took the biggest hit, if not the biggest, was the events industry. In the past 14 months, this industry has practically been non-existent. Only in the past few weeks have we began to see uncapped events, such as the boxing fight between Canelo and Saunders. During the past 14 months, there has been many occasion where I have questioned how long it would be until we can go back to normality and DJ properly again. Well, in truth, I don't think we will ever go back to normality as such (i.e. what it was like pre-covid).
I also questioned whether DJ suppliers, bars, clubs, and anyone else in the supply chain would go under. The answer is, yes, there have been a few victims already, unfortunately. However, Bop DJ, a supplier of DJ and sound equipment have been inundated with DJ controller sales during lockdown - a lot of people have wanted a hobby to practice during all the spare time they had. This is great to see.
The situation now is, yes we are starting to see events make a comeback, but how will the processes and structure behind them be different to that pre-covid? One of the biggest milestones was the trial-rave that was put on in Liverpool a few weeks ago This was Britain's first legal rave in more than a year. No face masks were required, and no social distancing either! Attendees had to test negative for COVID-19 within 24 hours of the event.
Some event spaces, such as Lakota and Bridewell Beer Garden, have utilised their outdoor space to put on seated music events during the past year. Most of the events they've hosted have sold out, which just goes to show that there are still many people who want to go out and socialise! (and will continue to do so). The rules are still quite restrictive around music. Currently, music can only be played at a background level. Guests cannot get up from their seats (unless they go to the toilet), they cannot shout, and they cannot dance. And yet, even with all these restrictions in place, the demand is still there.
In fact, some people I have spoken to believe we will experience something similar to the "roaring 20's", a period after the first world war, in which some countries experienced very strong economic growth. During this time, dance clubs become enormously popular. Looking from a half glass full perspective, maybe we will see a nation itching to dance and sing their hearts out. Clubs, bars and other entertainment venues may experience a huge surge in revenue, and dancefloors full to the brim!
When Boris Johnson announced the roadmap on 22nd February, I don't think anyone in the events industry expected him to say that from 21st June there will be no restrictions. I personally thought he would say sometime next year. I think this is testament to the vaccine rollout, and how quickly everyone is getting it. This has brought much excitement to everyone involved in events.
Shortly after the announcement, festivals began to announce official dates and lineups. Demand for these were huge, with many selling out in minutes! However, some festival organisers, such as Glastonbury and Boomtown, have been a little more cautious. They won't be putting on festivals this year, even though Government have provided a date for no restrictions. Do these organisers still think that there could be delays? Is this something that we should be concerned about? One thing we can say is I think demand for music isn't going away, which is great. But what about the measures that might be implemented? Will they deter them? Let's have a look...
No earlier than 21st June, government hope to remove all legal limits on social contact. They also say the following: "As we move through each of these phases in the roadmap, we must all remember that COVID-19 remains a part of our lives. We are going to have to keep living our lives differently to keep ourselves and others safe. We must carry on with ‘hands, face, space’. Comply with the COVID-Secure measures that remain in place. Meet outdoors when we can and keep letting fresh air in. Get tested when needed. Get vaccinated when offered. If we all continue to play our part, we will be that bit closer to a future that is more familiar."
I interpret this as there will still be measures in place to help protect people, and there will continue to be measures for the foreseeable future. These might include continuing to wear masks in shops, having a rapid lateral flow tests prior to entering a club or music event, and/or maybe even having a proof of vaccination card in order to attend. These 3 examples are certainly not far-fetched, and is what I think will happen.
I think it's fair to say that many people will still wear a face mask in shops, even when it's not compulsory. More people have adopted a more hygienic lifestyle. This may also carry over to people's habits in bars and clubs. Many may take hand sanitiser with them. More people will probably be less inclined to share drinks with their friends. Toilets in bars and clubs may be cleaned more frequently, too.
During this Summer, covid cases are expected to be low. As we hit Autumn/Winter, cases are expected to rise. As a result, government may introduce stricter measures. However, we already know that many people will receive a 3rd 'booster' jab later on in the year, to help protect them from any strain variants, which are almost certain to crop up. Hopefully this will ensure the events industry can continue to stay open. A 3rd lockdown is almost certain to be catastrophic to many club, pub and bar owners.
Aside from the odd sit-down event, I haven’t DJ’d to a crowd since lockdown began back in March. I have, however, been mixing lots at home, as well as continually updating my music library. This has been a great time to practice new DJ'in techniques and check all my equipment over.
It's not long now until June 21st, which brings much excitement to everyone! All I can say is, the wait is almost over...