Montreal nightlife revives as dance floors reopen

After more than 600 days, Quebec has lifted restrictions on singing and dancing at bars and restaurants. On November 15, Health Minister Christian Dubé announced in a press conference that there were no more capacity limits and people would be allowed to stand and dance once again. The announcement stated that clubbers who are dancing must keep their masks on the entire time, but distancing is not required.

After a dry year of nightlife at McGill, many students are ecstatic about the reopening of dance floors. “When I heard restrictions would be lifted and dancing could resume I was extremely excited,” shared Claudia Velimirovic, a U2 Arts student. “The ‘going out’ experience in Montreal was kind of compromised because dancing wasn’t allowed. I am so happy that provincial leaders think the current state of vaccinations in Montreal creates a safe enough environment to have this piece of life back.” 

Emma Copeland, a U2 Arts student, also shared her excitement about the opening of dance floors as “it feels like the last step to going back to our normal lives.”

Prior to Dubé’s announcement, Montrealers were protesting for the government to reopen dance floors. On October 23, a crowd gathered in Jeanne Mance Park accompanied by a DJ blasting music and signs reading “dance for the right to dance.” The protesters felt it was unfair that other sectors of the entertainment industry, such as concerts and sporting events, were allowed to lift restrictions and open to full capacity while dance floors and bars were required to remain closed.

Not only are dance floors reopening, but McGill students’ beloved Café Campus will reopen on Friday, November 26 for the first time in 620 days. In a Facebook post, Café Campus said “our dance floor activities will resume as normal” with vaccine passports and a mandatory mask mandate in effect. 

Velimirovic considers clubbing to be a major component of the social life at McGill. “One of the reasons why I chose McGill over other universities was because of Montreal nightlife.” The clubbing experience is a more inclusive style of going out compared to house parties, according to Velmirovic. “You don’t need an invitation to a club like you do a house party, which I think positively contributes to student life at McGill.” Copeland shares a similar opinion about how clubbing positively contributes to McGill students’ social life. “It offers something different from other universities in Canada because our school is in the metropolitan area. Montreal nightlife is a big attraction for a lot of McGill students.” 

The owners of venues are also excited to resume normal operations. The pandemic created financial hardships for clubs, many of which had to close, temporarily or permanently, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Jean-François Beaudoin, Café Campus Coordinator, said Café Campus is “really happy to connect again with dancers and clubbers. The dance floor is the heart of our operations.” 

In terms of safety measures, Beaudoin said “written communications will be placed at strategic spots as a reminder of the rules. We’ll leave the policing to the individuals.” According to Copeland, club staff haven’t been very strict about enforcing mask wearing since the opening of dance floors. 

Café Campus intends to resume business as usual—with the lifting of restrictions happening on such short notice, however, Beaudoin says Café Campus is short of staff. “We might have to refuse business opportunities and limit the number of visitors.” The club is selling tickets online for their opening weekend to ease the stress of the chaotic opening for both employees and clubbers. 

Velimirovic said she has been out to bars on St. Laurent since the reopening on Nov. 15 and has “found it to be incredibly similar [to nightlife pre-COVID-19]. Everyone was dancing and socializing; really just having a great time.” Copeland said she finds the clubbing experience to be slightly different to life pre-COVID-19. “There’s way longer lines and a lot of times you have to pay for bottle service to even get into the club, which makes it a lot less affordable for students.” 

In a city known for its nightlife, the reopening of dance floors is exciting news for many. “Montreal has some of the coolest bars and clubs in Canada so it is really great to get to experience those again,” said Velimirovic.

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