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  • Faye Minton

The Return of Concerts, Clubs, and Festivals: What Have We Missed Most?

By Faye Minton

Since restrictions ended on July the 19th, people have been out in full force. The “we got through it!” celebrations have barely paused for a second, leaving many of us with the kind of hangover so bad that even a fry up and a McDonald’s coke won’t fix it.

For those of us mentally prepared to get back out there, ‘Freedom Day’ represented the return of human contact. Let’s be honest, the past year and a half have been lonely. So now that there’s a chance to reconnect with people, it’s hard to criticise those welcoming it with open arms.

Clubs, concerts, and festivals have been a perfect way to get that instant company. Some clubs opened their doors as soon as the clock ticked over into Freedom Day. Concerts and other live events took place all week, and Latitude festival went ahead in Suffolk with 40,000 music lovers desperate to see headliners including Bastille and Wolf Alice.

These events bring people from different backgrounds together, uniting them through that shared serotonin boost. The UK is a nation that’s always loved music, so events that incorporate it mean a lot to us.

According to Statista, there were 28.5 million concert attendees in the UK in 2019. A further 5.2 million attended festivals. It’s a favourite pastime. The UK music scene has bloomed over the past decade – we’ve grown up to know that where there’s music, people are guaranteed to be nearby. The beat that goes right through your chest, the company and the atmosphere combine to create something electric and contagious.

After a year and a half of caution and being kept separate, our natural social instincts have been thrown off. We’ve craved people, the opportunities to create new connections, and the beauty of spontaneity. Even when we’ve had access to restaurants and bars, we’ve had to pre-book, sit in restricted groups, and follow regulations. Sure, it’s been fun. But it’s taken away from the freedom, and the kind of excitement that comes from not knowing where the night will take you.

Clubs, concerts, and festivals allow this spontaneity because you get caught in the moment. When you’re swallowed by the atmosphere, everything else pauses, even if just for a second.

Of course, not everyone’s ready to take this leap. We can’t just shake our (now deep-rooted) concerns about coronavirus. It’s shaken everything we know about socialising, so just as much as we can’t blame people for getting back out, we also can’t pressure those unsure about getting involved.

In the same way some of us have spent the pandemic eagerly awaiting things reopening, others have spent it in fear of the return to a ‘normal’ they no longer recognise. 130,000 lives have been lost in the UK, and a whole lot of grief comes with that. These worries are just as valid as the excitement.

Students are one group who definitely witness both realities. A huge proportion of us love to party, and the disruption to the sesh has led to anger and resentment – the experience of university hasn’t been what most had always envisioned. There’s some grief for the time we’ll never get back. The sooner we can get back to the clubs, the more chance we have of saving our uni experience… right?

But we’re also at risk – living close by each other, the virus has spread through halls and our tatty terraced houses like wildfire. We’re more than aware of how dangerous it can all be. So, do we let the risk hold us back?

Simply, what we’ve missed most about clubs, concerts, and festivals is being care-free, in our bubbles of happiness and being in the moment. We’ve missed shutting off our thoughts, second guessing everything. As time moves on, let’s just hope we can all return to that – one day, Covid will be a thing of the past, that nobody has to worry about before they decide to go to a concert, or for drinks.

Since Freedom Day, we’ve had a taster of normal, and it’s been fun – but there’s no rush. If you need more time, take it, because we’re young and still have so much time to reclaim this missed year.

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