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I Love the Nightlife: Reopening Entertainment Scenes

The first chapter of a forthcoming report form VibeLab, a nightlife consultancy firm, makes a variety of pertinent suggestions for facilitating al fresco events and safely regulating crowds in a new context.
August 6, 2020, 11am PDT | Lee Flannery | @leecflannery
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Pavel L Photo and Video

The widespread closure of bars, venues, and clubs as a coronavirus risk reduction measure has left patrons, entertainment industry employees, nightlife business owners, and performers without safe ways to gather. Short of any industry-wide guidelines for reopening operations, nightlife consultancy VibeLab recently published the first chapter of a Global Nightlife Recovery Plan titled "Open-air Nightlife And COVID-19: Managing Outdoor Space & Sound." 

"Future installments will focus on a host of pandemic-fueled problems, including finding financial supports for workers and owners of venues that can’t reopen and what the future of dance and live music clubs might look like. Its goal is not just to save a threatened part of cities’ cultural and economic life, but to make some longer-term improvements in relations between nightlife businesses and citizens, and how public spaces are managed and monitored," reports Feargus O'Sullivan. 

There is no returning to indoor nightlife as we know it without a vaccine, says O'Sullivan. This first installment of VibeLab's recovery plan suggests that outdoor events are the way to move forward with large-scale entertainment. Better to have al fresco, regulated gatherings with safety practices than to allow unregulated indoor gatherings to arise out of necessity. 

Outdoor events raise concerns about noise regulation, among other headaches. "When urban nightlife — in all its noisy, unruly glory — migrates out of the windowless buildings that once contained it, new problems emerge," reminds O'Sullivan. "The presence of police officers at public gatherings can escalate rather than diffuse tension." The VibeLab report excerpt suggests the consideration of alternative forms of party police, pointing to alternative forms of law enforcement like Amsterdam's Square Hosts who keep the peace in bustling nightlife areas. 

VibeLab's full report is forthcoming and is expected to be released in September. 

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Published on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 in Bloomberg CityLab
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