Enschede’s nightlife in the corona crisis

| Lukas van Remmerden

For the people who usually dedicate their days and nights to student-focused events, 2020 has a massive impact on their daily life. U-Today talked to the people behind the bar at Club Update, Rico Latino, and Paddy’s, about what the crisis means for their business and what students can do to support the local nightlife culture.

The Oude Markt, during 'better days' (Kick-In introconcert 2019)

What did you do to cope with the crisis?

Update: ‘Like all bars, we had to shut down for a while. After the hospitality industry opened back up, we redesigned the bar: setting up tables and enforcing walking routes that ensure social distancing. The guests are sitting instead of dancing and the number of people inside is reduced. There is a strict door policy requiring you to disinfect your hands, your phone, and to download the corona app!’

Rico Latino: ‘The ‘lockdown’ gave us little time to prepare. We immediately went into survival mode: cutting down on costs, but also informing all our members - and we got a lot of help back from it! We knew what we could not do, so we had to focus on what we could do instead. Even though we reopened, it was not and is not ‘business as usual’; Parties are not allowed yet, and there are no partner switches allowed during our dance classes. But we are still doing our best to please our audience, for example by organizing dance workshops for student associations.’

Paddy’s: ‘We do not exclusively focus on clubbing, as we are a restaurant during the day. This enabled us to still be able to make revenue, while having to cut off the parties. Additionally, we started a takeaway and delivery platform for our meals. It started on Facebook before we launched an online platform. And people still make use of it even though we reopened, so something good came out of it at least.’

'It’s like a reality check that shows you that we really are not in control'

What expectations do you have for the near future?

Update: ‘We want to keep our regulars and just make sure that everything is safe while hosting amazing socially distanced parties again. I can imagine people are really longing for their first drink in a club. If you can proof that your concept is safe according to the regulations, the guests will feel safe.’

Rico Latino: ‘The future remains unclear. It’s like a reality check that shows you that we really are not in control. A lot of other businesses digitize their services, but that is difficult for us, since a lot of our guests come for the social aspect. The best outcome would be to have a cure and go back to the ‘old normal’, but no current solution is ideal. Usually, we would have been part of the Kick-In with workshops for foreign students and the Alpha association. But those were cancelled, just like our own annual festival. However, we are in a lucky position compared to actual discotheques that only focus on parties.’

Paddy’s: ‘Normally, it is refreshing to see all the new students discovering the city. Even though you still have some of that around, it is sad to not have the same experience this year. It will take quite some time to have a higher degree of normality. In the beginning, we were joking about summer events being cancelled, then the same in autumn and now we are not even certain about Christmas events. We are waiting for good news every day. People start to get more tired of it week by week. But we must keep in mind that this is something that we just have to go through.’

'People are social animals!'

What do you miss the most about not being able to host events?

Update: ‘The vibe. The feeling that people give you. You can give a good night to 300 people, but it is not the same anymore. That goes for the colleagues too – everyone that works here loves what they are doing, but now we are kind of alone around here.’

Rico Latino: ‘I miss the interaction with the people, it’s just what I like. It’s what people come here for. People are social animals! And it just is not the same digitally.’

Paddy’s: ‘The atmosphere! All the colleagues love what they are doing and really enjoy being both in front of and behind the bar at events, and we love to give the guests a great time here. But this situation just makes it hard to provide that.’

'This is the time to be responsible'

What can students do to safely support the local nightlife culture?

Update: ‘Safety is the number one priority. Download the corona app! This is the time to be responsible. Try to see the same circle of people and come by for a cold beer.’

Rico Latino: ‘While you are not yet allowed to dance in the bars, you can still enjoy a socially distanced beer on a terrace or go to a safe dancing workshop.’

Paddy’s: ‘Keep on visiting the bars that you usually go to - because they need it. Please just keep yourself and the people around you safe. As we Dutch say, “wees lief” - be kind!’

What do you think nightlife looks like in a post-corona world?

Update: ‘If Corona can really be 100% gone, nightlife will be more appreciated. A hug will mean so much more. 100 people in one room will feel crazy ecstatic and the guests will love it. The work in nightlife will also be more appreciated.’

Rico Latino: ‘Sadly, some venues and companies will disappear. It will be sad that some need to stop doing what they love. The demand was always there, but the offer was not - people still want to go out and enjoy themselves, it is like a primary human need. And that need will stay.

There will also be a lot of skepticism towards the vaccine and nightlife regardless, so it will be a slow growth. But I hope I'm wrong about that.’

Paddy’s: ‘It will be one step at a time. Nightlife will be very regulated for a while, but the people will be insanely happy about being able to finally dance and hug each other again!’