The announcement that no new covid restrictions will be put in place in England prior to 2022 ends uncertainty for venues holding New Year’s Eve events but many are still at crisis point.
The news of no further restrictions this side of New Year was only confirmed yesterday (December 27) by Health Secretary Sajid Javid who urged people to “remain cautious”.
But this left a short timescale for venues, and their audiences, whose New Year’s Eve plans were clouded by uncertainty.
Hospitality and music venues across the country have reported falling customer numbers throughout this month after government guidance to reduce social interaction due to the spread of the Omicron variant.
This came as it was announced the ‘Plan B’ strategy would be implemented in England. Since December 10 face coverings in shops cinemas, theatres and places of worship were again made compulsory – although this was not extended to hospitality businesses as eating, drinking or exercising, received exemptions.
Despite a rebellion by up to 100 Tory MPs rules were also passed meaning from December 15 mandatory vaccine certification applied for all nightclubs, unseated indoor settings with 500 or more attendees such as music venues or large receptions; unseated outdoor settings with 4,000 or more attendees such as outdoor festivals; and any events with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports events.
Customers need to show the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS app to demonstrate proof of two vaccine doses or provide proof of a negative lateral flow test.
Ramsgate Music Hall boss André Dack said he and staff were thrilled to get the green light but it comes on the heels of a ‘disastrous’ December with attendee figures dropping dramatically due to’ chaos and uncertainty.’
He said: “It was an anxious wait over the Christmas period, but we’re thrilled to have the green light for New Year’s Eve. People have been excited for some time, with tickets even being sold in the past week or so – and that’s despite the uncertainty around it even taking place. It just goes to show how important these things are.
“Planning events with this level of uncertainty is a logistical nightmare. Hotels have been booked, train tickets too, and staff members are left wondering whether or not they have work. It’s also a barrier for audiences who may much rather avoid the hassle and stress of planning a night out that could potentially be called off (again). It’s no way to work, and it’s no way to live.
‘50% drop in tickets’
“December has been disastrous for us, with the average drop off in tickets at almost 50%. At one sold out show, 130 tickets resulted in only 58 attendees. That is not remotely sustainable. Prior to the pandemic, that figure was around 10%. The venue survives from profit made on the bar and through the contribution and support of our wonderful members. If this situation doesn’t change, we simply won’t make it through to the summer.”
The New Year’s Eve bash at Ramsgate Music Hall sees The Ramsgate Soul Train return for a Studio 54 New Year’s Eve special.
The line up for the night includes DJ Hooch who ran the ubiquitous Funkin’ P’ club in the heart of London’s Covent Garden for 15 years, has DJ’d all over the globe and was one of the chief instigators of the Funk resurgence in the early 90s.
There is also Ramsgate’s Jeff Levy, a DJ with an unmistakable groove present throughout his sets, which includes funk, soul, jazz, boogie, disco and more. Medway’s Clive Johns completes the line up. He made his name as a DJ in London and brings a compelling blend of musical knowledge and technical skill to the Ramsgate Soul Train. A veteran of countless private parties and high profile club nights Clive’s CV includes residencies and guest spots at such legendary events as Southport soul weekender, We Love Soul, Club 8090, Peoples Club and more.
The new covid restrictions mean proof of vaccination or a negative covid test are needed for entry.
André said: “For our New Year’s Eve event, proof of vaccination or a negative lateral flow test is needed for entry. This is a new restriction for us: required by law, due to the event running beyond 1am.
“The logic behind the time cut off is obviously questionable. We now wait to see what happens for events planned in 2022. Regardless, we feel strongly that RMH has been an incredibly safe place to attend since reopening earlier in the year.
“Despite the chaos and uncertainty, it has been wonderful to be back. In the space of only five months we have had some incredible gigs and made magical music memories. There are already some stunning shows in store for 2022, but we urgently need strong, definitive leadership to ensure these actually take place, and with the appropriate level of attendance. “The government offering ‘guidance’, rather than setting laws and standards, only creates further division amongst the public.
“Experiencing live music is euphoric and a necessary release for so many of us. Between COVID and Brexit – a predictable disaster for touring – it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to keep this going.
“Grassroots venues across the country are in crisis, worrying about paying rent and wages at the end of each month. Rest assured, we will continue to do everything we can to make sure RMH sees it through.”
Head to Ramsgate Music Hall
Ramsgate Soul Train, December 31, doors open 9pm, 18+ event. Tickets are £15 plus booking fee of £1.50 from www.ramsgatemusichall.com/
In Margate the continuing pressures of the covid situation forced Elsewhere to close the music venue until tomorrow (December 29) with owner Alex Barron launching a ‘pre-order a pint’ scheme before Christmas in a bid to support his staff who have lost out on earnings this month.
Customers have been invited to buy a pint now which can then be redeemed in the new year. All money raised will go to the staff.
Elsewhere, which is based at the centre and is a live music venue, record store and café site, has been open since 2018. It was one of the first venues to take a spot at the rejuvenated Centre site.
But, like all those in live entertainment the venue has suffered with covid lockdowns and now reduced visitors due to concerns over the Omicron variant.
In an update from the venue it says: “Elsewhere will be closed as a music venue and bar until December 29.
“This is due to a myriad of problems that the ongoing pandemic poses for us and our industry following a succession of event cancellations and growing concern for the physical health and mental well-being of our staff and our community.
“As the pandemic continues beyond Christmas, we will be monitoring the next set of government directives regarding our re-opening very carefully.
“These past six months have been so incredibly heartening. You have come out in your droves to show your support for live music, culture and venues like ours. Together, we’ve watched England’s men’s national football team get to a major tournament final, witnessed some of our favourite bands and artists return to our stages, danced into the small hours, had our live room transformed into a haunted dance forest by @fantastic_pleasure , welled up with pride and inspiration as we watched the young people of @canvas4equality show their strength in love, openness and vulnerability in a public space – we already can’t wait to do it all again with you.
“We believe that we will be here for as long as people still need us.”
Elsewhere is holding a New Year’s Day event with dance, food and fun from 1pm until midnight.
Tickets are £6 and all profits will be donated to refugee crisis charity CARE4CALAIS https://care4calais.org/
Line up: Upstairs from 1pm – Emily Slime, DJ Yemrot, DJ Woe-800, DJ Sports Roll. Downstairs- Claireobics, The Journey Smirness, Fantastic Scott & Jaw-G, B2B, South Deal School, DJs.
Event is 18+