Is there a future for Marbella nightlife in 2021? Pre-pandemic party professional Giles Brown, ponders the predicament.
If there is one sector of Marbella’s tourist industry that has been hit particularly hard, the town’s nightclubs have borne the brunt of the Coronavirus lockdowns. Marbella has a club scene to rival any resort in Europe – from superstar hangouts such as Olivia Valere to rooftop Puerto Banus partying, overlooking the superyachts at Pangea or RnB Urban insanity at Mirage – the summer season is frantic, frenetic and fun.
This year, however, will be a little different. Although the restrictions on numbers allowed to meet may be relaxed, nightclubs are viewing the coming season with caution. Many of the Banus-based businesses rely massively on the British tourist market. With the UK Government yet to set a definitive date on when Brits will be allowed to enjoy foreign holidays, some clubs have set tentative opening dates of June.
Another problem that the clubs will face is hiring seasonal staff. Traditionally, bar staff and public relations were the domain of young Brits looking to make a little summer pocket money. Now that the UK has left the EU, however, they will have to apply for a visa in order to work – even if it’s just for the summer.
Several promotors and club owners that I spoke to were understandably pessimistic at the current situation. One spokesperson for a group who wished to remain anonymous said that they were concentrating on their restaurants and beach clubs for summer, while another promotor said that, even though they were allowed to open until 10.30pm, they were being checked on by the police to make sure that they were sicking to the regulations. He was not hopeful about restriction-compliant events making a difference, either. “Who wants to do socially distanced sit-down events? I’d rather cut my leg off with a spoon, to be honest.”
For the DJs, who normally have their summer schedules in Marbella fully booked, before jetting off to Dubai or Thailand for the winter, last year was tough. Scott Strutton, one of the most in demand DJs in Marbella with residences at News Café and sessions at chic beach club La Sala by the Sea told me that he worked a grand total of seven weeks last year, plus a New Year’s Eve Party on a yacht in Dubai. He does, however, hold out some hope for 2021. “It’s true that Marbella’s nightlife industry has struggled massively over the past couple of months. At the moment the scene is weird but exciting in a good way. I’ve been going out and it has been so different with the venues trying their best. You can still have a great night out – I’ve been out every single weekend since we were allowed out. I haven’t stopped to be honest!”
Scott also hopes that recent live events in Barcelona, where the audience were Covid tested at the venue and had to wear masks, may mark an improvement in the situation. “I’ve also seen a system that has just been introduced in Barcelona that filters and cleanses the air so that you don’t have to wear a mask. When I saw this I was really excited because that means that if all the clubs have them we can go back to normal.
Like many in the industry, Scott is also watching the situation in the UK carefully. “At the moment we don’t have a clue what’s going to happen, and when the British government put a ban on holidays it felt as if they were kicking us while we were down. People from the UK are messaging me asking when the clubs are open, and at the moment I can’t give them a definitive date”.
He is, however optimistic about the post-coronavirus scene and believes that clubbers are going to want to party like never before “Once the clubs are allowed to open until 7am, we are going to have a lot of people going crazy! I can’t wait till I am playing live with a massive atmosphere, because you don’t really get the atmosphere in the clubs at the moment as the restrictions say clients have to be sitting down at a table in many of the clubs. It’s funny because I look at pictures of me DJing to a packed News Café and think ‘Oh my God! Do you remember that!’”.
“I think once everything goes back to normal the clubs will have their best ever years – because of how much people have been kept in – people are going to go wild!”
Let’s hope the post coronavirus craziness arrives soon to save the Marbella Club season of 2021!