We’ve probably all thought about how different university life will be when we can finally return to campus. There’ll be no hope of wild nights in Smack or circling in the Copper Rooms, at least for the foreseeable future. We’ll have to put masks in our bags alongside our phones, money, and keys. We’ll frequently find ourselves mentally measuring the distance between ourselves and other people.
But this doesn’t mean every night will have to be a night in. That’s certainly not what the bosses of Kasbah — or should i say, Kasbar — are hoping. They opened their doors again on 21st August, transforming into a bar in a time when clubbing is off the table indefinitely. You can bring up to five of your friends along for a new kind of Kasbah experience, though tables have to be booked in advance to prevent overcrowding. They have also placed hand sanitiser stations around the venue and will be providing both face masks and temperature checks, as well as running a track and trace system.
The night time economy has been repeatedly kicked in the shins
There’s a school of thought that says this is quite an innovative move. The night time economy has been repeatedly kicked in the shins by the pandemic and has ended up at the back of the queue for both reopening, and government support. As an avid gig goer, I’ve found myself very concerned about how grassroots music venues will survive with no money coming in for months. Clubs like Kasbah are going through the same thing. It’s all too likely that we could witness a wave of closures before social distancing becomes a thing of the past.
Kasbah may have rescued itself by getting creative and finding a way to reopen. With students coming back to both Warwick and Coventry university, there is likely to be plenty of demand. I can vouch for that myself; I’m waiting impatiently for my first night out in six months, to let off steam and bask in a feeling of artificial normality. When times have felt so desperate up until a month or two ago, I and many others will take whatever we can get, albeit in a socially distanced manner.
Kasbah’s reopening is a lifeline for its members of staff
More importantly, Kasbah’s reopening is a lifeline for its members of staff. Chances are, they’ve been on furlough since lockdown began and the future could have looked bleak for them past the furlough scheme winding down in October. They have a chance to get back to work, back to full pay, and hopefully back to some kind of job security. Without it, prolonged closure could lead to redundancies if it hasn’t already. It goes without saying that this would be a situation nobody wants, especially in a recession with the number of opportunities shrinking.
On paper, Kasbah reopening as a bar offers hope for the club to survive and could be an example for other similar venues to follow. However, I must end on a serious note. We cannot forget that although less of a threat (for the moment at least), Covid-19 is still very much out there. Kasbah has a great responsibility to keep its premises safe for both its staff and its customers. Though the plans outlined by the venue seem adequate to keep it Covid-secure, it is imperative that they be rigidly enforced and don’t just become promises as empty as the government’s ‘world-beating’ test and trace system. My motto in the coronavirus situation is “don’t be scared, but don’t be stupid”. This should apply to everyone visiting Kasbar for as long as the pandemic persists.