Clubbing on the clock
Tax law student Sander is carrying a cardboard box of Keizerskroon beer, handing out cans to strangers. ‘Here you go, one for you,’ he says while walking briskly with a group of friends. They are on their way to a big afterparty that will be attended by approximately a hundred people. ‘I’m expecting fireworks,’ Sander says.
Laurin, a student of international relations and international organisation, is also waiting for her friends to continue the night: ‘Going out in the city has become the new pre-drinking,’ she says. ‘But the real thing? The afterparty!’
Going home with strangers
To get the most out of their night out despite the curfew, medical students Pien and Amber are looking for an afterparty as well. ‘We’re waiting for someone to invite us for an after,’ says Pien, sitting on the sidewalk and dipping some fries in her mayonnaise sauce. ‘That’s how it goes nowadays,’ Amber adds. ‘Going home with strangers has become the new normal.’
Once I am in the right mood, clubs are closed already
Pedagogical science student Dani already received her invitation. She is excitedly waiting on her bike, ready to leave. ‘A guy asked me whether I want to go to an afterparty with him,’ she says, ‘but I think it’s only going to be the two of us, he didn’t invite anybody else.’ She starts laughing: ‘Don’t worry, we’re just going to talk.’
Considering there are more than fifty thousand students in Groningen, it comes as no surprise that many are not done partying at midnight. Especially for international students who are used to going to clubs around midnight, the curfew doesn’t mean that the night is over just yet.
The right mood
Laia Guitart, who is Spanish, feels like she didn’t have a proper party yet. She just doesn’t feel like partying at eight in the evening, she says. ‘So I don’t think I ever stepped into a club in Groningen. Once I am in the right mood, clubs are closed already.’
‘The curfew takes the joy out of going out,’ says her friend Marie Guerin who studies energy and climate law. They have found other ways to still get the most out of a night out. ‘We now start drinking immediately after classes, around six,’ Marie says.
‘We don’t have time to study,’ her friend Laia chimes in. ‘We have to start drinking quickly and go to the city immediately because otherwise the bars will be closed already.’
But clubbing culture in Groningen has changed beyond new times for going out and calling it a night. ‘We were at Wolters Wolthers and it was hard to even walk around. I’ve lived here for four years and have never been in a club as full as tonight,’ clinical forensic psychology student Lara Schönborn says.
Because bars and clubs are much more crowded, the students have to look for more expensive places to even find a spot. ‘That way I’m spending way too much money,’ Lara’s friend Lillian Peetz says. Also: ‘I feel like if the clubs would be open longer there would be less chaos because people would leave bit by bit,’ she adds.
But now, just past midnight, huge crowds are gathering at Grote Markt. Drunk people are stumbling out of the clubs, through a layer of plastic cups scattered on the street. In front of cafeteria De Hoek, a massive flock is building as large groups are trying to grab a snack. As the mayhem unfolds, the police are trying to keep the situation in check.
After increasing pressure from bar and nightclub owners, who have suffered from the ongoing pandemic, the Dutch government has decided to reopen these venues. Nonetheless, some restrictions still apply. Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs must be closed between midnight and six a.m.
Everyone wants to get drunk before twelve
Despite these measures, the number of Covid-19 cases increased; within one week more than five thousand cases were reported to the RIVM, the Dutch institute for public health and environment.
Lars de Boer, a student of human geography and spatial planning, works at the Drie Gezusters. He says the current situation is hard to manage. ‘Everyone wants to get drunk before twelve.’ The result: ‘There are way more guests within a shorter time frame.’
His job has become especially more stressful during the weekend, because it’s hard to get people to leave at midnight. ‘Usually people leave at one point but you really have to push them and tell them to go before twelve multiple times.’ That his shifts have gotten shorter is something Lars is happy about, though. Normally he would be done around five in the morning whereas now, he is able to head home at two.
Other students also don’t mind the current situation. Maud, who studies the PABO, is eating a fried snack at the terrace of the Drie Gezusters which is starting to get more and more empty as students are making their way out of the centre. She doesn’t mind the early closing hours: ‘Tomorrow I will be fit enough to do important stuff.’
Student of commercial economy Jente agrees. ‘Normally the night is only just starting at midnight, but with the curfew you go to the city at nine already. I go about two to three times a week now because I can still get enough sleep and function during the day.’
Psychology student Sam also went out for the third time this week. He is standing right within the mob of people in front of the snack bar, waiting for his friends who are grabbing an eierbal. Before the curfew, Sam would go out until early in the morning, but now he goes home when bars and clubs close.
I don’t understand the purpose of the night curfew, but I am happy that it exists
With the clubs closed, there is not much the Poelestraat and Peperstraat can still offer the ingstudents – so they leave. Leaving the neighbourhood that used to be the hotspot of wild dances and drunk people until early in the morning a much more quiet and peaceful place due to the night curfew.
For communications and information student Giovanna Capparelli, who lives in Poelestraat, the curfew doesn’t really make a big difference. ‘I’m used to the noise, because I’m from Rio de Janeiro, where I always sleep with the windows open.’ Giovanna is looking forward to the full reopening of the night life in Groningen: ‘As a partygoer, I think it will be much more fun to party without a bedtime.’
Her neighbour Evgenia Arvaniti does appreciate the silence – a lot. ‘I don’t understand the purpose of the night curfew, but I am happy that it exists’, she says. After graduating with a master’s degree in youth 0-21 society and policy, Evgenia is now a full-time civilian who has to wake up early to go to work. ‘With the night curfew, I can actually have a full night’s sleep without waking up every time someone sings too loud.’
However, the measure didn’t solve all the issues one encounters when living in a party district. ‘Since the clubs reopened, Peperstraat and Poelestraat have once again turned into warzones of trash and broken glass’, Evgenia says. She looks up when she hears someone watering the walls of her house: ‘Ah! And they use this alley to pee, to puke and to have sex. Nothing changed in that regard.’