PRYZM Leeds: Excitement brewing for city's biggest nightclub ahead of tonight's reopening party
Dancing the night away to the tunes of a live DJ is something many of us have missed over the last 16 months.
But there is now a generation of 18 and 19-year-olds who have never experienced the joys of a nightclub - the sticky dance floors, the drunken bathroom chatter or the feeling of bass vibrating through a venue.
The manager of Leeds nightclub PRYZM, Gavin McQueen, is busy preparing a jam-packed schedule of events as venues get the green light to reopen next week.
Kicking off with the Freedom First Dance at midnight tonight, and the sold-out Quids In less than 24 hours later, the city's largest nightclub will welcome back old faces and a raft of new clubbers through its doors.
“We’re excited to show what we can do again after a very long 16 months," Gavin told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“But there’s a bit of nervousness as well, because you don’t know how people are going to perceive it. There’s a lot of mixed views out there which we understand.
"You do this job because you enjoy it, not because it’s an easy life - as it’s been shown. Our staff are looking forward to getting their lives back."
Boasting three dancefloors, VIP booths and an outdoor terrace, the Merrion Centre 'superclub' has been a popular haunt for students and locals alike since it opened in 2014.
Gavin and his team have been working hard behind the scenes planning a summer of events, from rehiring and training staff to implementing queue management, crowd control and enhanced cleaning measures.
“The pandemic has allowed us, as an industry, to reassess what we do and what our goals are," the 38-year-old added.
"There’s more of a focus on entertainment, the production, on music policies and what the guests want. It’s more about the whole experience now, not just which DJ we have in.
"That experience has to be spot on because people have lost out on this for so long."
Rekom UK, which owns the PRYZM nightclub group, said it will not be asking for vaccine passports at the doors of its clubs despite Government advice to do so.
Its chief executive said the requirement for a negative Covid test would create a barrier to getting the industry back on its feet and pointed to safety measures already in place.
Gavin added: "Keeping people safe is a key part of what we do. We’ve put in the groundwork that, from a customer’s point of view, they won’t notice.”
Leeds lost another renowned nightclub, Mission, in July 2020 as the industry buckled under the financial pressure of lockdowns.
Gavin welcomed the Government's decision to go ahead with 'freedom day' on Monday as the nightclub sector begins the long road to recovery.
He added: "It's the atmosphere, the entertainment and just being able to enjoy yourself that makes clubs so special.
"It’s hard to describe that to the generation who haven’t visited yet because they were 16 or 17 when they went into lockdown. All they have seen is the negative stuff around nightlife.
“If they approach clubbing with an open attitude and forget the perceptions, it’s going to be so enjoyable. But if they have a preconceived idea of what a nightclub should look like - that’s going to have changed in two years.
"I’ve got a younger brother and he’s never been out, he’s never experienced nightclubs. There have been virtual events but nothing beats meeting people.
"We’re social creatures and we aren’t designed to be sat on our own.”
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