A post-pandemic utopia of clubbing

Humankind is currently facing a global crisis, caused by a pandemic whose impact on society, economy and politics, will change forever the way we live.

These unprecedented times are bringing a rare moment of stillness, an occasion to rethink how we produce, distribute and consume culture. As we become aware of the consequences of our actions on the planet, it is clear that the same responsibility must inspire our approach to culture, and therefore music. 

Humans’ main strength is to adapt to their environment and so we did, in the first weeks of this pandemic. 

At the beginning of March, when clubs were closed indefinitely and gigs and festivals were canceled, we found new ways to adapt and protect our microcosm.  

Resident Advisor successfully launched Save our Scene, a campaign offering actionable suggestions on how to keep the scene alive. Buying merchandising, skipping refund requests, offering help through petitions and donations are just some of the most interesting ideas that can be found on their site and socials. 

Virtual events deserve a separate mention, with RA’s new manifesto including streaming as a way of supporting the scene, whilst offering solace to sad clubbers, left with no plans for the foreseeable future. 

In the wake of the countless live sessions on social media, initiatives from solo artists like Freddy K and his Krzrzrz daily show, as well as radio broadcaster Hör Berlin or Italian Tempio del Futuro Perduto’s marathon 340h virtual set, Resident Advisor also launched its own event, Club Quarantäne.

Designed as a 42h virtual club experience, the first line-up featured names of the likes of Adiel, Marcel Dettmann, Helena Hauff, Randomer, Shanti Celeste, Hector Oaks and many more.

Inviting all global ravers, to “stay home, stay safe and dance together”, Club Quarantäne took place on a website, functioning as a real club. People gathered in common spaces, virtual cloakrooms, toilets, and bars, to meet and chat as they were in a regular venue. Some attendees even shared on socials that they exchanged numbers and made new friends during the event, hoping to meet one day in real life.

Aiming at creating “a shared space to interact with each other virtually”, the initiative was a great way of sharing a message of positivity and a short-term solution to the lack of live events. 

Unfortunately, things are a bit more complicated.

Less optimistic and more long-term is the vision of Vincent Neumann, who stated his opinion through a series of Instagram stories on his TechnoTheGathering profile.

“Clubbing as we know it, will be a thing of the past,” he said, explaining how club owners, staff, festival organisers and ravers alike will need to re-invent themselves, in a post-pandemic world when many events won’t exist anymore. The German artist also invited his followers to support the scene, investing the money they would otherwise spend in clubs, in donations to their favourite artists and parties.

Despite the apocalyptic tones, Neumann’s message highlighted a point very similar to the one shared by Resident Advisor: the importance of helping each other, as a way of coming out of this crisis faster, stronger, but more importantly, together.

“People will value music more”, he also said, suggesting that the value of music might be differently perceived after COVID-19. 

Is this a point of no return for music? Will we begin to (finally) give real value to music, like any other of our daily consumptions?

Will the word “free” have new connotations?

For instance, the concept of free movement will have a different meaning in the upcoming future. As we reflect on the implications of sustainable travel, our approach to gigs and festivals might need to change. Maybe DJ touring will have to be reviewed, as well as, for clubbers, flying last-minute to see their favourite artists might become a thing of the past. What’s the cost of what we have been doing so far?

These are unequivocally difficult questions to answer, but a good starting point to imagine a different future for clubbing. 

Another perspective might be inspired by the values that club culture represents: “inclusivity, diversity, acceptance, compassion, solidarity, creativity and joy”, as founder ofGlimpse.co, James Turner, wrote after his talk at ADE last October. If remembering these values on the dance-floor, when sharing your water with a friend or taking care of a stranger in the queue for the toilets, seems the easiest application, what we need now is a wider perspective. 

We need to come together and understand how artists, promoters, and clubbers can all share these values. We need to think of new platforms, global initiatives and real actions to make our scene sustainable in the long-term. 

Maybe these same values will inspire the reconstruction of our society, in an ideal world driven by global solidarity rather than disunity. 

A brighter world, where music shapes culture and culture influences society is utopic, but still possible.

“Together we dance alone”, famous quote and slogan used by a clothing label a few years ago, doesn’t seem to be the right answer anymore. 

Together we need to dance (and act), together. It’s imperative. 

(picture by Sam Mar)