Update: As of March, most NYC COVID restrictions have been lifted, such as the indoor mask mandate. However, residents and visitors still need to show proof of at least one vaccine dose to enjoy indoor activities, and private businesses still enforce their individual COVID policies.
When New York City was put under lockdown in 2020, several things happened that no one ever saw coming. We saw streets empty out in the middle of Times Square and watched the lights go out on Broadway—quite literally, just like Billy Joel once sang.
For a while, it almost felt as if nightlife permanently died in the city that never sleeps.
But, let’s face it, that wouldn’t happen.
Now that the vast majority of the city has been vaccinated, restrictions have been lifted throughout the city. At the time of this writing, the only widely-known mask restrictions that remain in place are using a mask when using public transit, in hospitals, in schools, and in correctional facilities. This means that most of New York’s nightlife is waking back up once more.
If you are like many club-heads in the city, you might be wondering what remains in store for you when you go back into the nightlife world. Here’s what you should be aware of when you decide to go back.
Is Your Favorite Club Open Yet?
We all have our own favorite lounges and clubs in New York City. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t just cause human casualties. Many of the biggest landmarks in New York City didn’t make it through the pandemic, including the Bushwick Cider House.
Coyote Ugly, meanwhile, closed down but made a comeback at a new location (read on to learn more).
So, be prepared to look at the club or restaurant you want to attend just to make sure it’s still there. There’s a chance that it’s not. If it is, you might want to check to see what’s going on as far as their entry policies go. Each club tends to have its own quirks.
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Check With Your Local Club Promoter For Events
Another issue that New York City’s club life is dealing with is the different club promotion policies since Covid-19. Some club promotion and party promotion groups actually folded during the pandemic, so they might not be around. If they are, then you need to find out what their status is.
For the most part, club promotion groups have started to advertise new events once more. With that said, some are still holding out when it comes to hosting indoor events out of concern for the Delta variant. Trying to find a venue is still hard, especially if you are a club promoter who doesn’t have a particular club to work with.
CFM from Sounds So Sweet, a local rave promotion company, noted that finding places to throw events can often become reliant on who you know.
“It wasn’t too hard for the first show because our friend 2k from NYCR hosted us at his spot in Brooklyn called Castle in the Sky,” he explained.
Finding new venues can be hit-or-miss, he added.
“We are looking for another venue for our next show coming up. Should be in Queens, this time, if I’m correct from what my partner Schnife told me. But don’t hold me to it exactly until we have decided the next venue formally.”
The Regulations Are Real, But Vary
When the regulations that came with Covid-19 started to lift, we all rejoiced. It was time for normalcy. However, things aren’t quite the same right now. Many promoters require people to wear masks or show proof of vaccination. Most also have attendee limits that are below what they once were. Some venues even require reservations.
It’s important to remember that indoor events that are larger than 5,000 attendees are still not allowed in the city. So, you can’t quite attend massive bangers yet. Aside from that one hard regulation, the rules inside each venue are based on the promoter’s discretion.
Local promoter CFM explained how his regulations worked, “The concerns after Covid was just health safety to the best of our abilities hence the requirement for vaccination cards or negative Covid check within 72 hours of the event. Without either, you cannot join the party.”
New York City’s Burner Scene Is (Kind Of) On Hold
It was only fairly recently that New York City’s Burner scene (as in Burning Man attendees) started to kick back up again. The crew is mostly just doing online and daytime meetups, though it’s very likely that we’re going to start seeing that party life kick up once more.
From what we have seen from the most recent online mailer, Burner Parties are now starting to go indoors. This has been confirmed by multiple groups, including SOUP NYC. However, you will not be allowed inside the venue if you do not have clear proof of vaccination. Safety is a major cornerstone of Burning Man, so it makes sense.
A very recent email for a Kostume Kult party explained it this way: “Per the CDC & NYC guidelines required for Indoor Events proof of full vaccination status is REQUIRED for entry including the NY State Excelsior Pass, apps connected to an official health database such as MyChart or CVS/Walgreens. We will also accept an original CDC Card (no scans or photocopies).”
Major Festivals Are Still Not Happening
We all know that 2020 wiped out almost every music festival in America, and that the pandemic is dying down. By now, most festivals are still on track to happen—including street festivals in New York like Pride Week and Puerto Rican Day. However, not all festivals are still slated to happen.
Due to ongoing concern from the pandemic, several festival crews announced that they will remain virtual or delayed. These include the NYC Electroacoustic Music Festival and the Festival of Emerging Artists.
Some Clubs Might Rise Out Of The Ashes
Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding Covid-19, there is some good news. The long hiatus that happened from the pandemic caused many clubbers to yearn for the days of yore. This led to a number of rumors that swirled, including the alleged rumor saying that the Limelight will reopen once more.
Though the Limelight rumor appears to be just a rumor, there is a very strong, concentrated effort to bring some of those experiences back to life in the form of a nightlife museum. People often forget that New York City has a Nightlife Office that’s dedicated to saving ailing clubs.
Remember how we mentioned that Midtown’s Coyote Ugly was no longer around? Well, it resurfaced. However, it’s still not in Midtown. Coyote Ugly is now located in the East Village. It’s far from the only club to make a move, too.
Strip Clubs Are In Full Swing
If you are the type of person who loves strippers and adult fun, there is some good news. New York City no longer has restrictions on strip clubs and physical touch. When the restrictions were lifted, venues like Sapphire in Times Square were packed to the brim. However, things aren’t even. The state had shuttered several clubs over Covid-19 restrictions, despite it being 2021.
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If you want to go to a swingers’ club, then things might be a bit more strict. Due to the fact that there is going to be open-mouth kissing and lots of panting going on, many swingers clubs require a vaccination proof as well as a temperature check.
To find out what’s going on with the swinger scene, it’s best to go to Adult Socials, Midtown’s Labyrinth Swingers’ Club, or similar sites to see their policy. Some swinger parties are not opened yet out of concern for Covid-19 transmission risks.
Social Distancing Isn’t A Thing In The Club
We all know that we are supposed to stand six feet apart in theory, if we are not vaccinated. The truth is that almost no one is actually following those CDC guidelines in the club. For a lot of us, that is a breath of fresh air. We all missed grinding on hotties at the club, or bumming a cigarette outside, right?
However, it’s still going to take time to get used to. As a nation, we spent a whole year apart from others. If you got used to that personal space, you might need to ease yourself into clubbing. With that said, most hardcore clubheads seem to feel like the new events act as a reunion among friends.
“When I went to my first show back post-pandemic, I didn’t see anybody social distancing. When you put people who haven’t seen each other in over a year together, what do you expect? You can’t expect them to not hug each other,” noted DJ Scope Elementz.
The Pandemic Also Made NYC Rethink Clubs
Don’t worry, nightlife is still around. It just so happens that the break in nightlife made the city’s civil planning boards rethink how clubbing should be. Since 2020, there have been several proposals suggesting a full-blown nightlife district that would allow clubs to be open 24/7.
The club districts in question would be known for having low residential density. With that said, this is still all just in proposal mode. The current closing time throughout the city remains 4 AM for most clubs.
Could this mean a move for Chelsea’s 1OAK, or that Midtown’s LAVO will be shut down? Possibly, but we highly doubt it. That’s just not the NYC way.
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It’s Still A Work In Progress
Honestly, it’s going to take a while before New York is going to feel the same as it did before — at least, when it comes to the club scene. Everyone from club owners to the guests themselves still feels a bit shaky after the pandemic has wound down.
Most of the time, people feel right at home once they actually get to the venue and hear the beats bumping. The truth is that it will take a while before New York’s crazy and unbound club life will go back to full capacity. Until that happens, give yourself (and fellow clubgoers) a wider berth.