What Newcastle’s famous nightlife might look like after Covid – according to the city’s big players
On Monday, a gloomy Boris Johnson dealt another hammer blow to the already crippled UK hotel sector.
“Freedom Day” has been delayed for four weeks. Nightclubs would not reopen as scheduled on Monday, while bars and pubs are expected to continue to follow the rules for now.
The news was expected given the rising infection rate, but no less disheartening for an industry that arguably suffered more than any other during the pandemic.
And there can’t be many cities where this sting will hurt more than Newcastle.
The city is known around the world as a place to party. Before the pandemic, it was the mecca of deer and chickens bent on having a good time on the Bigg Market or the Diamond Strip.
After the pandemic, however, the picture remains unclear. Even some of the city’s top nightlife figures are divided over what a night out in Newcastle will look like once the restrictions are lifted.
For some, like Nigel Holliday, co-founder of Tup Tup Palace, business is likely to be booming. Tickets for the relaunch of the hall went away immediately.
And he believes Newcastle could be “at the top of the list” of UK destinations people want to visit once the rules are completely relaxed.
“With all the vacations and people who can’t go on vacation, I would expect there to be a lot more people visiting Newcastle,” the businessman said.
“You can’t really do your boys or girls vacation this year, so you might see Newcastle as a destination where people think ‘let’s go this weekend’ rather than the traditional summer vacation.
“People will want to come for a party weekend, and I think (trade) could be even stronger than before.”
And he also anticipates a possible boom in deer and hen bookings later this summer.
“People will feel safer organizing this weekend (in Newcastle), rather than a place you may need to quarantine when you return.”
The appeal of Newcastle is already well known. And just this week, it was named one of the best “second cities” on Earth.
Even dating back to the mid-90s, it was named the eighth best party city on the planet in the Weissman Tourism Report – behind Rio alone.
However, the pandemic has shown little mercy even for the safest sectors.
Just this week, Tom Caulker, managing director and musical director of the legendary world headquarters nightclub, admitted his venue would be “finished” if the lockdown restrictions continued until the fall.
The government insists that will not happen. Boris Johnson himself, as promised, will be relaxed on July 19, with the PM insisting the overtime is only meant to allow all adults to be loaded.
However, backbenchers are skeptical, while Mish: Mash and horticulture supremo Mike Hesketh admits this week’s news was hardly a cause for celebration.
“Obviously we knew that (the roadmap) was fraught with potential change, so everything we did was done tentatively based on the potential for change. But we can’t hide our disappointment at being delayed, ”said Mike, who has previously been critical of some government restrictions on nightclubs.
Beyond the pandemic, he admits that the future is still very uncertain. To say last year hasn’t been great for sites is an understatement, but according to Mike, trust is growing and the talent in the industry is there – with evidence that visitors are already pouring in from outside. the region.
“We have noticed that with our event in Central Park more and more people are coming to Newcastle to party, and we are fortunate to have bigger venues and a greater variety of promoters trying out innovative ideas. where perhaps small towns and visitors don’t, ”he added.
“And I think people still recognize that we are the place for nightlife.
“And if the clubs and promoters survive this pandemic and then go out into the market and put in some really innovative stuff to bring people back to the city, then I think people will come back. “
The key question, however, is in what form people will return.
One night has changed a lot since March 2020. While the rules may change, maybe habits won’t.
The teens spent over a year watching live DJs. We’re not supposed to mingle in a bar. Queuing for a pint just seems a little silly now.
Nightclubs were already becoming less common in cities before the pandemic. A study, published earlier this year, revealed that 80% were at risk due to Covid.
Despite this, many are well and truly preparing to party like they did in 1999 in four weeks.
One of the region’s biggest players, Tokyo Industries chief Aaron Mellor, has said he will open sites like Digital as soon as he can, anticipating a return to normalcy like this.
“The atmosphere will be amazing. The pent-up demand for events has never been higher,” he told The Sun.
For Nigel, he thinks the sites will bounce back. The past year has been brutal, with government financial support doing little to prevent the sites from drawing on their reserves to continue. In the end, the rent was due no matter what – but he believes the good times will return for the city.
“The trust of the customers is there,” he added.
“We found that as soon as we opened the door, most of the tables were reserved and they were going to be full. From the customers’ point of view, they want to be back.
“People want to be able to dance, they haven’t been able to dance in a year and a half of their lives, so they want to.”
However, for Mike, he’s still not sure if the future will be for 3,000 sweaty teens cramped in a nightclub – or something entirely different.
“It’s amazing because at the start of the pandemic, as promoters, we were saying, can you imagine the appetites of people going out – they’re going to love going out of clubs again.
“But as time goes on and you continue to be beaten by these setbacks… you fear that people’s tendencies and desires will change.
“So it’s a stranger that we have to get into, but whatever we can do as promoters and as people who love nightclubs, live music and festivals, go out and really give people events to go to.
“So let’s keep our fingers crossed, July 19 is passing, and we can go back to what we know and love, which is laughing at a gig and dancing on the dance floor, and kissing people again. in a bar – but it’s gonna be interesting. “