October 22nd lies circled in the calendars of many. It is the grand return to relative normalcy that we’ve been fathoming for a year and a half now, as the majority of the remaining restrictions are scheduled to be lifted.
Despite the preceding hesitancy to reopen expressed by Taoiseach Michaél Martin last week, it looks as though the plans to reopen will press forward, but now under more specific circumstances.
“The sectors due to reopen on October 22nd may now only do so on the basis that all customers must produce proof of vaccination and identity,” he said on the 19th of October.
“Sectors should ensure appropriate protective measures are in place.”
Contact tracing and Covid certs will be required in the venues scheduled to reopen, and mask wearing will be mandatory, except for when eating, drinking or dancing.
From October 22nd, we can expect the 11:30pm curfews on bars and restaurants to end, crowd limits for outdoor gatherings to be lifted, and nightclubs to reopen their doors; ready to accommodate the fun and drama that they are correlated by.
With these restrictions scheduled to be lifted, the country’s nightlife will be at a level akin to what it was before the initial lockdown.
This will be great news for students, who are among the most common age groups to frequent nightclubs.
The nightlife has become a staple in their social lives. It is the hub for reconvening and connection, looser feelings and expression; and there is no doubt that students have missed it dearly.
“I’m very excited for the reopening. I’ve missed the feeling,” said Jakub Czerniejewkiscienze, computer science student at DCU.
He is a big fan of electronic music and says nightclubs are the only place he can fully enjoy it, along with other fellow fans of the genre.
“I don’t really enjoy pub music as much as club music, so I’m really looking forward to [night clubs’ reopening]” he said.
“You’re also enjoying that atmosphere with a group of likeminded people.”
“I’ve missed dancing to Grease Lightning,” said Ruadháin Bonhan, economics student at DCU.
“I didn’t realise how much I’ve missed music until I watched the Eurovision this year,” he said.
Like many of the students interviewed, Bohnan has missed the distinct kind of socialisation that the nightlife provides.
“I’ve missed meeting new people,” said Bonhan.
“You might not have much in common with them other than the fact you go to the same school or are ordering the same drink, but I still miss it,” he said.
For other students however, their excitement is not based on a familiarity with the nightlife, but rather a lack of one. Orlaith Quinn, data science student at DCU, had turned 18 after the closures, meaning she has never been to a club.
“I don’t have any experience with nights out, other than [teenage discos], but they don’t really count,” she said,
“So I’m looking forward to going to a club for the first time.”
As we head into nightclubs post-pandemic, it will no doubt be a different experience to what it once was.
Some venues may serve their drinks in disposable cups and reduce the capacity of their smoking areas, says Cristopher Crawlen, physics student at DCU.
Concerns for the health and safety among clubbers have also been raised, as venues are expecting to host high volumes of customers on the first night of the reopening. Some students have opted to skip attending the clubs for the first few nights
“I’ll probably tactically go three days later [than the reopening] and wait for things to die down a bit,” said Bohnan.
He adds that aside from the health concerns with clubbing in high volumes, many people feel more comfortable in general when venues aren’t at full capacity.
Czerniejewkiscienze fears that nightclubs may be understaffed due to finding work elsewhere this past year and a half and choosing to stay there rather than return to this sector.
“Some DJs and artists are probably not going to play anymore because they got used to life without doing that,” he said.
Antigen tests are expected to be mandatory before entry into a nightclub, but such a requirement won’t be ready until after October 22nd
The delay in imposition is due to the board researching the tests’ overall efficacy saying that the results won’t have their findings ready for the reopening, according to Catherine Martin, Minister for Culture.
Despite this, Martin encourages clubbers to take an antigen test before going out as an additional precautionary measure. All students interviewed said that they would be willing to take an antigen test before going on a night out.
Despite these concerns and the additional concessions, people are excited to get back into the night scene.
A culture of dressing up, socialising, drinking and dancing has been sorely missed this past year and a half, and it will be lovely to be able to live that part of the student experience again.