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Nightlife during the corona crisis: Bonn clubs fear for their futures

Nightlife during the corona crisis : Bonn clubs fear for their futures

The Untergrund and Nachtsicht clubs have been closed for almost three months. Nobody knows when the Bonn clubs will be allowed to open again. Those who run the clubs and also the DJs are worried about their survival.

The end came abruptly for Alex Knörck. "We had actually still hoped that we could open in the evening", says the manager of the nightclub Untergrund on the phone. But on March 13, the city closed the clubs because of the coronavirus. The turntables came to a standstill, as did the party machinery of the Untergrund. Normally, around 35 employees are at the club to make sure everything runs smoothly - DJs, security guards, counter staff. Many are students and work for 450 euros a month. For them there are no tips right now. According to Knörck, that can add up to 400 euros extra. “From one night to the next, they had to see how they could get by," he says. "There's no support at all yet.”

Drinks in the refrigerated storage go bad

In Siegburg he still operates the Casbah - a restaurant and club. Rent and other fixed costs are charged for all the properties. That's a six-figure sum each month, says the 43-year-old. In the Casbah there are about 80 tables on the terrace. "Normally, in weather like this, the tables are full." A few weeks ago they set up a delivery service. The employees are on “Kurzarbeit”, which means they have reduced working hours. To help them out a little, they are all invited to pick up one meal a day from the restaurant. Knörck also receives a lot of solidarity from his guests who donate or buy vouchers.

For all those who want to party during the pandemic, the Untergrund has already put DJ performances online. On BonnLive you can see Knörck, who is also DJ-ing himself, standing at the turntables wearing a protective suit and mask. You can also see performances from DJs of other Bonn clubs.

Knörck does not assume that people will be dancing in his clubs again anytime soon. "We'll probably be the last ones allowed to open again," he says. At the moment there is endless speculation, but nobody knows exactly what will come. "And if there are to be minimum distances, there’s no need to even open a club." With one person per 10 square meters, he could let 80 people in the Untergrund. It wouldn't be worth it.

There was a brief glimmer of hope when the cinemas were allowed to reopen. "That's when I thought, now we can start up again," says Knörck. He is afraid that this year, club-wise, nothing will be possible at all. Which is also problematic, because shortly before it had to close, he had once again stocked up the club's refrigerated storage. "I have 240 cases of beer, cola and juices - it's all going to go bad," he says. It's not just the club that he's worried about. He just became a father for the third time. "These are now existential fears to the power of ten," says Knörck. But when parties are allowed in the clubs again, he expects things to really get going. Knörck says: "I think everyone will come. People want to go out again.”

Daniel Jakob also assumes that it will take a while until the loudspeakers are booming again in his club. Together with Hans Plum he runs the Nachtschicht and the Nachtlounge. He hasn't thought much about partying when the club scene starts up again.

Although he doesn't have any idea when he can open his businesses again, Jakob seems quite laid back on the phone. "I'm not insanely worried," he says. "We are quite well set up, the money will last for a while." He thinks that he will be able to make ends meet for a while without any financial problems. The landlord has accommodated them. They are only paying for utilities for the time being. But Jakob is worried about those businesses that haven't been able to build up reserves because they are smaller or haven't been in business that long. "They'll get into trouble sooner", says Jakob. He is also worried about his staff, many of whom are students, and especially about his DJs. "They are all self-employed," says Jakob. "They'll lose the whole season.”

"I have 15 to 20 gigs a month," says DJ Nicolas Decker, who works the night shift regularly. His body is happy about the current break. But even though he has been managing well, the buffer he has only lasts until August. The 40-year-old says on the phone that he is worried about his existence. He could not pay himself a salary from the emergency aid he received as a self-employed person.

He is currently wavering constantly between hope and disappointment. "When it came out that there will be no big events until August 31, I was really devastated," he says. “There go all of my weddings, corporate events and summer parties." He has also recorded performances and put them on the net. But there is no contact with the audience, no atmosphere. Decker is sure about one thing, "When I get my first chance to play back at the club, tears will fall.”

(Orig. text: Dennis Scherer / Translation: ck)