Wednesday 23 September 2020

Clubs closed by coronavirus, Amsterdammers fight for the right to party

Photo: Ramon van Flymen ANP

Well over 500 people gathered on Amsterdam’s Museumplein on Saturday afternoon to protest about the government’s decision not to reopen clubs and discos because of their potential role in spreading coronavirus.

The demonstrators – people working in the sector as well as clubbers – called on the government to allow clubs to reopen, and to increase financial support for business owners.

‘Amsterdam’s world famous nightlife culture threatens to disappear,’ Pieter de Kroon, owner of the Chicago Social Club on Leidseplein, and one of the organisers, told the NRC. ‘It is going to take years before we get back to the old level.’

The campaign, under the slogan De Nacht Wacht, is backed by 150 clubs, event organisers and djs. Demonstrators, carrying posters stating ‘murder of the dancefloor’ and ‘our tribe must dance’, largely kept to social distancing regulations, and the police said they were happy at the way the gathering went.

Innovation

Clubs have come up with a string of suggestions which would allow them to open their doors again, from a ban on the over-25s, to increasing ventilation and temperature checks at the door.

But prime minister Mark Rutte was clear at his most recent press conference that clubs cannot reopen and that he cannot give a potential date when they may be allowed to do so.

‘Politicians don’t give a damn about the night and all the people who work in it,’ said DJ Joost van Bellen. ‘Without support, a gigantic industry and culture, which we are so proud of in the Netherlands, will be in pieces.’

Club owners say the ban, and lack of perspective, is driving the night scene underground and police have broken up numerous illegal parties in recent months.

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