In many countries, including Spain, Germany and Britain, governments now allow clubs to welcome visitors without any vaccine checks, masks or distancing requirements. And although the pandemic is not yet over, and a new variant could appear anytime to spoil the fun, Europe’s clubbers seem ready to relive the days when nobody had ever heard of Covid-19.
The return of the clubs has come as a relief to many workers in the nightlife sector, which has been especially hard-hit. Before the pandemic, 45 percent of the gross domestic product in the Balearic Islands, which include Ibiza, came from tourism, for which clubbing is a major draw. In the first half of last year, tourist spending in Ibiza and the nearby island of Formentera was less than one-third of prepandemic levels, according to the Statistical Institute of the Balearic Islands.
Ocio de Ibiza, a local nightlife association, estimates that 30,000 people traveled to Ibiza this past weekend to go to the clubs, a number on par with a prepandemic opening weekend. Sanjay Nandi, the chief executive of the group that runs the large Pacha nightclub, said in an interview before the opening that advance ticket sales had surpassed those of previous years. Of the island’s major clubs, only one, Privilege, does not yet have plans to reopen this summer.
“I know we are very lucky,” Nandi said, explaining that, like other clubs, Pacha had received help from Spain’s government in the form of a furlough program for staff. The company also received a loan of 18 million euros, about $19 million, from the government’s Recapitalization Fund for pandemic-hit businesses, and it was able to get some revenue through its constellation of restaurants and other venues. Nandi said that the size of Ibiza’s major clubs — whose capacities range from around 3,000 to 7,800 — and their associated political clout allowed them to weather the pandemic better than smaller venues. “Being bigger helps,” he said.