One year after lockdown, Wuhan clubbers hit the dancefloor

People visit a nightclub in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province. AFP/Hector Retamal

WUHAN - Glow-in-the-dark rabbit ears, pulsating beats, and a flexible attitude to masks: nightlife in China's Wuhan is back with a vengeance almost a year after a lockdown brought life to a standstill in the city of 11-million.

As the rest of the world continues to grapple with lockdowns and soaring infections, young people in the city, once the epicentre of the novel coronavirus, are enjoying their hard-earned freedom.

In Super Monkey - a huge nightclub in the city centre - there is no dress code or VIP list.

What is obligatory, at least to get through the door, is a mask and a temperature check - any higher than 37.3 degrees Celsius and bouncers can turn prospective partygoers away.

READ: Year on from first COVID-19 death, Wuhan basks in recovery

Inside, where clubbers let loose on the dancefloor amid the deafening sound of techno and a blinding laser show, the rules are not always so strictly followed.

While masks are obligatory at the door, DJs and partygoers take them off to chat with friends, dance, or smoke. 

Many are just happy to find themselves out on the town after last year's gruelling quarantine, imposed to battle what was then a mysterious new virus.

"I was stuck inside for two or three months... the country fought the virus very well, and now I can go out in complete tranquillity," a man in his thirties, who identified himself as Xu, told AFP.

READ: Can-do attitude: Wuhan virus lockdown captured in craft beer

The hedonistic vibes and champagne on ice are far from the austerity preached by authorities in Beijing.

Beijing's state media has hammered home the failure of Western governments to tackle the virus, contrasting the chaos abroad with China's return to normal.

It touts that success as evidence of the superiority of Beijing's authoritarian political model.

In the club, there are fewer people than before the pandemic, he said.

READ: Wuhan lab denies virus link as online mega-concert raises spirits

Nightclub brand manager Li Bo said the virus had hit his industry hard.

"Compared with other lockdowns in other countries, our country is at least half open, but the consumers still have the feeling of unease," he told AFP, estimating that nightlife in Wuhan had dropped about 60 to 70 percent.

The strict rules applied by some establishments do not help, with attendee numbers limited and reservations required. 

Users must also show a tracking app proving they have a clean bill of health.


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