The retail trade, the catering trade – all of them require opening perspectives. But there is an industry whose core business has been idle for almost a year. Which couldn’t even open between the two waves last summer. Clubs and discos can be found in the step-by-step plans of the federal states for a step-by-step opening, at best with seven-day incidences below 5 – and even then only with a hygiene concept and a limitation to one person per ten square meters.
The industry lives from what is most useful for spreading the virus: closeness to one another. How do club and discotheque operators deal with it?
Clubs: Dancing at a distance of 1.5 meters is not very effective
On March 7th last year, the last event took place in the “Gretchen” in Berlin-Kreuzberg. For owner Pamela Schobeß, something has disappeared that outweighs the financial losses: “We are the living room for our community; for us it’s a lot about closeness ”. As the chairwoman of the “Berliner Clubcommission” association, she represents the interests of Berlin club, party and cultural event organizers.
She defines club as a place where a curated program takes place – with changing artists or genres. That is the reason why the clubs not only receive bridging aid from the federal government, but also benefit from the “Neustart Kultur” stimulus program. The program provides 150 million euros for the largely privately organized music culture; including a part for clubs with live performances.
Emotionally, says Schobeß, the situation is very stressful. Because the club operators want to offer the artists a stage. Because they want to give their community an opportunity to celebrate. Because they want to give their employees a perspective. And of course, because they have to make money. The bridging aid of the federal government covers up to 90 percent of certain fixed costs – with zero income that is not enough.
Then there is the question of when the guests in the clubs will be able to celebrate again as they used to. “Carrying out a dance event at a distance of 1.5 meters is technically complex and empty in terms of content,” says Schobeß. “Club culture by far is practically impossible indoors.” That is why the “Forum Event Management”, an amalgamation of several associations, has presented a manifesto with which the event industry could gradually organize events again and generate income. Concerts in summer are therefore conceivable at a distance and, depending on the spread of the virus, first outdoor dance events.
Pamela Schobeß hopes that it will work. Nevertheless, most club operators would rather hold such events out of idealism. “As long as ‘keeping your distance’ is the order of the day, clubs will not be able to operate economically,” she is convinced. Your hope – as in many places: a rapid increase in the number of vaccinated people and mass tests.
Discotheques: “Have no opening perspective!”
From Berlin to the rural 8,000-inhabitant town of Trittau in Schleswig-Holstein: Knut Walsleben runs the Fun-Parc there, the largest disco in the district. He feels forgotten by politics – and that’s what he says as President of the Federal Association of German Discotheques and Dance Companies (BDT). He had to send his eight permanent employees on short-time work – two have now quit. He’s worried about losing even more skilled workers. “No matter how well a company has done before – you don’t just put up with a missing year,” Walsleben told NewsABC.net. He also speaks of a great psychological burden.
The bridging aid did not reach him in sufficient quantities, he says. If he calls the authorities, they won’t pick up – he won’t get an answer to his letters. “The worst thing is that the federal and state governments do not offer us any opportunities to open up.” The industry is part of the solution, not the problem. “We are experts in the implementation of events”, says Walsleben – and that is precisely why the association has now presented a re-opening concept for clubs and discos.
Among other things, the concept provides for the use of apps for seamless contact tracking. Disco visitors could check in at the entrance and scan QR codes at the tables. According to Walsleben, the discos could set up one-way traffic for the way to the toilets. But even he cannot imagine strangers dancing with each other and hugging each other in the near future. “We are more likely to think of lounges with groups of up to ten people who then stay among themselves and dance together.”
Walsleben’s demand: “Allow people to have social contacts with a proper hygiene concept – otherwise people will do it at some point in illegality!”