Night life bounces back to life

Sharon Mathala
BACK TO LIFE: Revellers at festival
…but some things may never go back to normal

Back in March 2020 the local nightlife came to an abrupt end with the indefinite ban of mass gatherings, night clubs and festivals. Last week at the end of the State of Public Emergency (SOPE), nightlife was resuscitated.

By Friday, and indeed over the weekend videos of packed venues and parking lots surfaced on the internet- fun lovers and night crawlers had come out to play, they had been locked up for close to 20 months.

Industry players’ pockets and indeed their livelihoods had run dry, some even came out to say they had resorted to packing their bags to return to rural areas as it was proving difficult to meet rentals in the city.

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Now with the rollout of vaccines reaching the 30-year-old age cohort, it was evident that Government is determined to open up the industry before the busy end-of-year holidays, but the question still remains; will things ever get back to pre-covid normal?
With shut-downs occurring throughout the world, most people relied on streaming and social media for entertainment, a trend which the local entertainers had to quickly shift and adapt to.

Other industry players too came up with innovative ways to stay afloat. Nightclub owners changed licenses to include liquor restaurants, artists turned their brand names into clothing labels for sale whilst some sadly remained spectators turned into beggars.

Voice entertainment spoke to Boogiesid-a local DJ, Entrepreneur, and industry expert who also wears the hat of the Secretary-General (SG) of the Botswana promoters Association (BEPA), on his opinion of whether the industry will ever go back to the ‘2019 normalcy’.

Boogiesid admits it will take some time for the industry to return to normal. “The only danger that comes with the time we are in now is the possibility of another surge of the virus, which would then call for interventions like lockdowns and or reduction of people attending events. I will be the first to admit that we are still in a situation where the virus may surge now that the industry is opened.”said Bogiesid

“And you see with vaccinations you are protected against extremities like death, it is not a cure,” the DJ further noted

According to BoogieSid, it may take a bit of time for most night crawlers to be fully comfortable with festivals and mass gathering events largely because of the uncomfortability of having to put the mask on throughout the show.

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Commenting on the industry players’ financial debts, BoogieSid said the situation had not reached crisis level for many.
“The industry was never credited friendly in terms of banks actually loaning out money to us, largely because our earning is occasional. The only thing guys were struggling with was storages and warehouse rentals, so they maybe in arrears for that besides other personal financial struggles incurred,” he opined

Meanwhile, the Botswana Musician Union(BOMU) has called on artists to vaccinate. “We are delighted that artists can finally host events and stage performances again. This is vital for their livelihood. We however encourage all artists to ensure they only host and participate in shows that are fully complaint to set Covid-19 protocols.
This is for the good of everyone including the artist and their families, We must be seen to be responsible contributors to the nations’ socio-economic growth, and not do anything that will compromise ourselves or any member of the public in everything we do as the entertainment industry,” reads a statement from BOMU.

For their part, the Botswana Beverages Association (BOBA) has condemned mass gatherings where covid protocols were broken like gatherings in parking lots over the independence holidays where people were seen crowded and without masks.

“We remind all that the end of the SOE is not a license to flout covid-19 protocols, and that privilege to consume alcohol can be taken away at any time,” BOBA chairman, Peter Noke said.

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