This time last year, Maltese promoters, clubbers, and DJs were well into the beginning of the sweaty and sublime summer season.
Twelve months later, and the situation has completely changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to reconsider the way it does things – and the clubbing industry is no different.
But the summer season is the high point for many of Malta’s hard-working DJs and Lovin Malta spoke to some of the island’s leading producers and electronic performers to see what it’s like having to probably miss the most important months of the music calendar.
“These are hard times for all DJs around the whole world.”
All my friends and colleagues had to suddenly cancel all their international shows as festivals were being cancelled and airports around the world started to shut down one by one.
Besides the fact we are making zero income, these are very frustrating times as DJs like me, who practically live for what they do, are now stuck at home with a lot of uncertainty ahead.
“DJs lost their summer income and no one said a word about them.”
The fact that as a DJ I know that the biggest events go down during these times and that the COVID-19 situation is still uncertain, means this is a problem for anyone who is in our line of work.
When it comes to events, there is usually a large number of people near each other, and under current rules, this has become impossible, especially when it comes to social distancing or wearing masks.
“It’s time to move away from unhygienic money and onto RFID payments in clubs.”
The future remains uncertain right now, however, I believe that right now it’s a matter of ‘when will our summer start?’ and not ‘will our summer start?’
To be honest, I’m excited to see what summer 2020 could be! Both from a clubber’s point of view, as well as a DJ’s.
With travel restrictions in place, it will be very very difficult for foreign brands/artists to perform here. This will give more opportunities to local DJs/ brands/promoters which is definitely something positive to take out of these difficult times.
And I’m really curious to see how it’s going to work out… if it’s going to work out.
I think people would have to be in small groups like at the lidos and restaurants. I don’t know, but common sense would tell me that’s the first step!
Having said that I’d also like to see local clubs enforcing other measures that can help reduce the spread like RFID payments… it’s been the norm for years in many clubs abroad!
Money is very unhygienic; it’s about time clubs made the next step – and it saves the employee time giving change and clients also get served quicker!
“Everyone in the music/clubbing industry is hurting right now.”
The abrupt halt to events was somewhat of a refresh in a sense. Everyone has had time to take a step back, work on music and reflect. However, not having something to look forward to, that connection with the people, it’s quite demotivating.
I like to look at the summer as the culmination of a year’s work, – the biggest shows, busiest schedules but best moments.
I’m sure we all can’t wait to get back to ‘normal’, whenever and wherever that may be.
We’ve seen everything from drive-in concerts to customised rave hazmat suits abroad and we’ve already seen social distancing measures at some local pool and beach clubs. I’m sure things will be different to some extent when we get back to the routine.
Face masks in clubs is sure to be a thing and there’ll hopefully be a raised consciousness on cleanliness and sterility in clubs. I’m sure everyone in the music/clubbing industry is hurting right now.
I’m hoping this will serve as an opportunity to come together as a community and back to doing what we love. Until then, we’ll have to do our best and hang on.
Alessia De Martino
“I’ve been studying new ways to party bearing all the new rules in mind.”
As a DJ and event organizer, I always focus on working and organizing events in safe environments. People who love clubbing are looking for fun, happiness, freedom and socialization – but to offer them the right experience, we need to think about their safety first!
I used to plan and schedule all my events and gigs a few months in advance, but in the current situation it is impossible to operate in this way. We have to check day by day for any new COVID-19 measures and understand how to organize a great event in a very safe environment according to the current regulations.
Most probably the clubs’ openings will be delayed but I’m sure that we will soon be back on the dancefloor!
Accepting big changes can be painful, expecially at the beginning, because you have to challenge yourself to identify new and better solutions!
I think this is the right period to give a positive switch to the clubbing scene and to focus more on the clubbers’ experience and motivate people to attend parties and events again!
“Laser temperature and sanitisers every time you enter a venue will probably become the new norm.”
It’s tough. It’s not just summer, the past two months have been vicious on anyone in the industry. We’ve been stopped from doing what we love most, the one thing which breaks our daily routine… and still nothing is set in stone as to where this is going.
By now we would have had a few events under our belt, dropping statuses such as “The event we’ve been waiting for over nine months” or “Nothing says welcome to summer like the Armier Beach Party”.
It’s tough knowing we won’t be taking those stacks of new tracks we’ve been collating for this season to an open-air club as we’ve been imagining anytime soon.
Restrictions have been lifting slowly, however, I understand we come from an industry which welcomed large groups together pre-COVID.
I would definitely expect new protocols before entering venues. There is nothing keeping us back from applying the same measures we take before entering a supermarket or shop. I think laser temperature and sanitisers every time you enter a venue will probably become the new norm.
Until we have a better understanding of the infection rate being held from socializing, face masks should remain a basic necessity all throughout an activity with hand gels available all around and increased cleanliness by staff after tables and bars are used.
I believe security will have an important role to play during the entire night unless the club adopts a different approach and hires their own staff for these checks. Lastly, I believe there will be restrictions on the number of attendees allowed in depending on the club’s capacity, same as the restrictions adopted by eateries to reduce the amount of contact one has in a club.
Whilst my thoughts depend entirely on clubs investing in such protocols, we would need 100% ownership from all attendees or it will never ever work.
“We need to learn how to work with restrictions in place.”
The past few months haven’t been easy to deal with mainly due to the uncertainty factor.
However, I have faith that things will improve slowly but surely. We can already see certain measures being eased and life slowly coming back to a somewhat normal so at times like this I feel positive.
Ultimately the restrictions are beyond our control so we just need to work with them.
With regards to new ways of clubbing, I’ve seen some videos online from other European countries trying different methods out and they gave me mixed feelings.
“I expect to see more innovation.”
I am very uncertain about the situation.
On the one hand, we are hearing very optimistic news, while on the other hand, we are very discouraged. Obviously I would love to get back on track, but no decision should be taken lightly and we should all focus on everyone’s health.
During this period we saw a lot of innovation with regards to virtual clubbing.
Several DJs and promoters took to social media to curate live videos for the listeners at home. If the situation pertains, I expect to see more innovation in this aspect, and not just live videos.
Some international artists also used virtual reality as a medium to create this experience. VR is something which is much more engaging to the viewer than just watching a video.
“It’s obviously a sad time for all of us.”
I am definitely missing playing for a crowd, be it small or big.
With recent developments though, I am hopeful that we will be back soon enough, with obvious restrictions and measures but back nonetheless.
Innovation is what we do best in Malta and it’s not unheard of that the clubbing scene changes every number of years so this will be no different.
I’m sure that DJs and promoters alike are all looking into new ways of ‘clubbing’ for this year!
“I’d prefer more intimate events right now.”
I’m trying to look at the glass half-full. Usually, in summer, it’s all about creating custom live versions of tracks week-in, week-out to keep it fresh. Now I’m using the time to produce more original music.
I really miss the people and the joy they bring me – I’m trying to repay them by giving them my own music.
I think I’d prefer more intimate events right now.
Fewer people, but closer people you know. In a time where I’m lucky to play to thousands of people, I really enjoy being up close with a few people in a small venue.
“Music might become more downtempo and chilled so as not to have people dancing close to each other.”
For the past 20 years this time of year, I would be rushing from club to pool party to boat party to a wedding after-party – June is usually our busiest time of the year as we kick off the summer season.
I am trying to make the best of this situation, this is the first time in my life as a full-time DJ that I am on indefinite forced leave, so I am trying to be productive.
Most of my bookings have moved to next year, so if all goes well 2021 will be very busy and will hopefully make up for part of this loss of work.
The entertainment industry has always been very innovative and, as Maltese, we have a culture that is very good at adapting to situations and reinventing ourselves using technology and manpower.
I am sure that clubs will adapt, maybe having the DJ mix in another empty area of the venue to be broadcasted live on large screen TVs in the area where the clubbers are.
Also, I think the music will adapt… maybe we will go more downtempo chilled so as not to have people dancing close to each other, with more Balearic chilled style music, which I love.
I also saw the social distancing parties in Berlin where every clubber is allocated their own personal area they can dance alone in. It looks a bit sad but I guess you can’t stop the dancing animal inside us, especially in the hot summer temperatures!
Felix Zahra/The Warehouse
“Renowned clubs in Berlin have adopted social distancing approaches with a twist.”
Clubbing is at the heart of our lives and although we are currently blinded of what the near future may bring, we remain with great positivity.
We were amongst those club-owners who closed our doors even before the restrictive regulations came into force and with utmost certainty, we will keep abiding by the regulations issued by the competent authorities going forward.
The current situation surely did obstruct all of the ideas and festivities which we had profoundly planned for the coming summer.
Obviously we were also faced with a negative impact on the profits of the business. Nevertheless, we look forward to when things to run smoothly again so that we can start our events with a Warehouse twist, hopefully sooner than we think!!
“With discipline and respect towards each other we can adapt to a new way of partying.”
As some of the restrictions are being lifted and I wish that I can get back to doing what I love most, it is still of the utmost importance that we do not take things for granted and follow the directives.
We must do whatever we can to support our health workers and others on the front lines who are working endlessly to help halt the virus’s spread. I am sure we are all proud of the work being done by all front liners, so let’s do our part by staying safe and party the old ways, later.