“Partying Has Evolved In Ways We Never Expected”: How The Pandemic Changed The Way We Rave
It is late 2019, at around 1.30am, and I am in Dalston Superstore, east London’s most beloved queer bar. All around me, people are snogging and, even if they’re not, their sweaty bodies are pressed up against each other in the small heat of the basement, techno pounding through their bones, their collective breath making the mirrors steam up in the darkness. I don’t realise it, but this will be the last time I step foot in a nightclub for at least two years. In a few months, there will be a pandemic and multiple lockdowns. Clubs will shut their doors around the world. Eventually, nightlife will return, tentatively, but not in the same way.
Lockdown might feel like a distant fever dream, but we’re still dealing with a global fallout when it comes to nightlife. In the UK, it’s predicted that one in three clubs will close by the end of 2022. Over in Berlin, Berghain – the world’s most iconic nightclub – is rumoured to be shutting its doors for good. It’s a trend repeating itself everywhere. Even across the US, many of the country’s most iconic clubs have shut their doors: LA’s gay club Rage, New York’s China Chalet, and drag club The Pyramid Club in East Village, to name a few. The heyday of clubbing as we knew it may indeed be over.
But partying has also evolved in ways we never expected. Virtual nightlife thrived over multiple lockdowns (think Service95 favourite Queer House Party) and has become much more normalised, which is great for those not always able to physically be in a club. From virtual reality clubs such as Tube VR to online, non-physical alternatives to clubs including Kyiv’s 20ft Radio (which is an online radio station treated like a summertime venue, with line-ups and DJ sets), and global Twitch streams (a live streaming service most often used by gamers) – see Tokyo’s MOGRA – grassroots collectives have flourished in the spaces left by post-pandemic uncertainty. Partying has become sprawling, inventive, and not so rigidly defined by IRL locations. It’s an erratic, exciting time to be a clubber.
Meanwhile, the closure of nightclubs worldwide has made way for club nights with changing venues, such as Melbourne’s secret rave collective, Filter (which you DM to find out the location), Gay Bombay in Mumbai, and electronic music collective We House Sundays in Cape Town.
Coco Cole, one of the UK’s most prominent voices in dance music and DJing, says that the closure of clubs has forced people to be imaginative and start their own nights. “Big established promoters and venues are still making up costs from the pandemic by booking big, risk-free line-ups certain to fill the venue, leaving little room for emerging artists,” she says. “So I think now is a good opportunity for new club nights, promoters and communities to create their own spaces and culture. As ever, the power is in the people.”
It’s impossible to predict what the future of partying will look like. But, regardless of what may lie ahead, people will always find a way to party, have fun, and dance until the sun rises – even from their bedrooms.
5 must-visit clubs around the world
- Zer021, Cape Town, South Africa – An LGBTQIA+ and drag bar with zero shortage of wild club nights and performances.
- Salon Zur Wilden Renate, Berlin, Germany – This multi-room renovated apartment in east Berlin is a must for clubbers looking for something unique and eclectic.
- 20ft Radio, Kyiv, Ukraine – 20ft Radio broadcasts music from a shipping container in a former ribbon-weaving factory and has a venue open from March to October every year.
- Womb, Tokyo, Japan – This 1,000-capacity club opened in 2000 and is spread across four floors with an unparalleled sound system, high-quality lighting, and extreme lasers.
- D-Edge, São Paulo, Brazil – A wildly futuristic, Tron-like super club that’s kept dance music alive and kicking in Brazil’s most populous city for the best part of two decades.
Daisy Jones is a culture writer, editor and author of All The Things She Said. Her work has appeared in Vice UK, British Vogue, Dazed, The Guardian and more