Updated: Feb 11, 2021
On the 4th of August, a massive explosion in the harbour of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, killed 200 people, injured 6000 and destroyed many houses and properties. Some of these properties were part of the once vibrant nightlife district of Beirut. Owners and promoters of the clubs destroyed by the explosion recently talked to The Guardian about the impact and the future of nightlife culture in Beirut.
Beirut is the gateway between Europe and the Middle East, because of this it has always been influenced by both Western and Middle Eastern culture. Its clubbing scene was once seen as the best in the Middle East. In the 20th century it had a vibrant disco and jazz scene and in the late nineties and 2000’s, electronic music was big. Many clubs opened up and international artists were flown into the city to perform.
When in October 2019 the people of Lebanon took to the streets in 2019 to fight against government corruption and oppression, this to chance. The value of Lebanon's currency dropped drastically and poverty increased. Leading to the clubs no longer being able to pay for international artists and the locals not being able to afford to go out.
To make things even worse, in March clubs had to completely shut down due to COVID-19 and there was no government help available whatsoever. Some clubs organised small socially distanced outdoor events, but these events barely produced any revenue. The final blow for the clubs in Beirut came on the 4th of August, with the biggest explosion the city has ever seen.
The tragic incident started when a building in the harbour of Beirut caught fire. Shortly after this a warehouse containing 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded. The explosion created a gigantic crater, killed 200 people, injured 6000 and destroyed many houses and properties. Some of these properties were part of Beirut’s nightlife district.
One of the city's club owners, a guy by the name of Jade, told the Guardian that his club Grand Factory is about 45% destroyed and his summer club AHM has been completely destroyed. Another well known club, The Gärten nightclub, used to be spot Techno fans to enjoy different international and local artists. But unfortunately it is also partly destroyed and now being used as a car park.
The Ballroom Blitz, one of the last nightclubs that is still standing in Beirut, has been turned into a co-working space and a temporary broadcasting station for radio hosts who have lost their studios.
DJ and Booker Ronald Hajjar (AKA Ronin) is pessimistic about the future. People from all over Lebanon, and many other places in the world, are offering help to rebuild the destroyed nightlife district of Beirut. But will it be enough to restore it to its old glory?
Source: The Guardian