400 experience nightlife again after a year in a clinical trial in Sitges

Participants must wear face mask but consuming beverages and not keeping social distance is allowed

Carrer del Pecat, or Sin Street, in Sitges, during a nightlife clinical trial on May 20, 2021 (bu Guifré Jordan)
Carrer del Pecat, or Sin Street, in Sitges, during a nightlife clinical trial on May 20, 2021 (bu Guifré Jordan) / Guifré Jordan

Guifré Jordan | Sitges

May 20, 2021 11:44 PM

Around 400 people experienced nightlife again after over a year with the sector banned in a clinical trial that took place in Sitges, half an hour south of Barcelona, on Thursday night, from 11.30 pm. This included around 300 participants - in the end around 100 people who had signed up did not attend - and the staff in bars, security and members of the organization.

Public could join the experiment, set to end at 3 am, as long as they were over 18 and they tested negative in an antigen test some hours before the event – the organization confirmed that none of the volunteers was found positive.

They were obliged to wear face masks at all times but the clinical trial aimed to create an atmosphere "as normal as possible," so they were allowed to consume beverages and to not keep social distance.

And indeed, the atmosphere was quite close to that of a random night of 2019 but for the face masks. The average age of participants was 36, but the eldest one was 76, with a large number of them being middle-aged. 

Loud music, laughters, Gin&Tonics and other cocktails, dancing and media expectation were the main ingredients for a rare night of joy, fun and hope for the future among participants.

Overall no crowds were seen in the street, but some of the venues, such as Everlasting Love, was quite busy inside, especially its dancefloor. 

Talking to Catalan News, a group of teenagers was "very much looking forward" to gather again for a night of fun, while a young couple wanted to experience nightlife "for the first time in over a year."

Event hoped to prompt comeback of nightlife

Five bars on the town's so-called "Sin Street" (Carrer del Pecat, officially Carrer del Primer de Maig) opened their doors to the party-goers: Everlasting Love, Pachito, Rich Monkey, Las Vegas, and Blitz. 

This event came almost two months after 5,000 people were able to attend the successful Love of Lesbian concert experiment in Barcelona with masks but no social distancing.

Sitges' Restaurants Association, as well as the Sin Street Musical Bars Association, had hoped to carry out this experiment, which is funded by the local council, backed by the health department, and supervised by IDIAP Jordi Gol, right after Easter, but logistical delays pushed the date back to May.

The organizers hope that the clinical trial is key for the reopening of nightlife. Dancefloors have been closed for over a year, and night bars have not been able to welcome customers ever since the curfew was established in late October 2020. 

Measures of nightlife reopening

Indeed, on May Catalonia revealed the reopening plan for nightclubs and other late-night venues, which will come into force once the closure order from Spain's Health Ministry expires, expectedly in a month. 

Venues with a capacity of more than 500 people will have to employ an electronic booking system for ticket sales. For smaller venues, this will be a recommendation only. All venues, no matter how big, must keep on record the names and contact details of anyone buying tickets at the box office, in order to help contact tracing in the event of Covid-19 infection.

Measures should be put in place to ensure social distancing and mask wearing in the event that queues form outside the venue. In fact, face masks will be compulsory at all times, except when eating or drinking. Venue entrances and exits should be separate where possible.

Eating and drinking will not be allowed on dancefloors, and masks will be obligatory. In venues with a capacity of over 500, dance floors will have specific entry and exit points, access will not be available from any point.

The plan also includes regulations on cleaning and ventilation. Spaces should be ventilated as often as possible and at least three times a day for 10 minutes. Ventilation should also start two hours before the opening of the premises and run until one hour after closing.