Dance the Covid Away – My Experience with Adelaide’s Futile Nightclub Restrictions
In Adelaide, South Australia, there is no community transmission. The big threat is the chance of infection spreading from Melbourne. In the meantime, nearly all types of businesses are open. The exception is nightclubs. Some of Adelaide’s biggest nightclubs were heavily fined after the first weekend of reopening. New restrictions make it almost impossible for dance clubs to operate. With these usual venues closed, smaller and seedier bars are enjoying a unique surge.
I experienced this first hand at a bar in North Adelaide. Ordinarily, it would only have attracted 20 or so drinkers. Four or five might have danced, and a table or two might have sat down for poker, or stood up for snooker. A strange place at the best of times. Last night, though, with all the real clubs closed, a university “pub crawl” ended its night there.
TV screens were filled with a bright blue sign and government logo. It asked patrons if they could please keep 1.5 meters apart, but there was no chance of that. The place was lit. A security guard kept tapping dancers on the shoulder: “No dancing allowed. Please, no dancing.” But with one group gone, another would appear. It was as though they were pulled to the dance floor, sucked in by the pressures of displaced overcapacity. And while there, in front of a booming DJ set, why not dance the night away?
This was the general cycle. It was interrupted only by popular TikTok songs. That’s when the pub crawlers truly swamped the place. They became a fully coordinated flash mob, grinding up against each other whenever the need arose.
The owners were clearly benefiting from Adelaide’s loose and futile restrictions. They paid for a DJ, they sold hundreds of cocktails, and they stuffed in as many revellers as possible. But they were ticking certain boxes. They had the TV screens, and that one security guard tapping dancers on the shoulder. Presumably, it was fine if they were congested somewhere else. And truth be told, he did play an important role. He was like a social conductor. He guided the constant flow of people from the dance floor to the seats, and then back again. In the event of an actual infection, his importance would only be heightened. For how else would the room be whipped into a steamy convection? His role is to garrantee everyone’s entry to kick ons at Ward 7.
Of course, you could take a break from all this in the bathroom. It was going off there too. Courteous, in their own way, the cokeheads that night. Comfortable, like they owned the place. They snorted off the window sill in the open, right next to the hand basin. They yelled to each other – a fully fledged analysis of the alpha dynamics of their shy mate Terry:
“You can really tell he owns the room, ey, because he doesn’t have to say nothing.”
Finally, I thought to myself, drug lords polite enough to leave me the cubicle.