As clubs across the US begin to open their doors once again within the next 2-6 weeks, a new environment will greet club guests. There will likely be distance requirements, new ways to tip entertainers, possible limitations on private dances, etc. The people most likely to communicate these new rules to club guests are the DJs — the voice of the club — and that was the subject of the ED Webcon on May 7.

Joining Thursday’s ED Webcon were RCI Hospitality’s Director of Entertainment DJ Platypus, as well as Danny Meyers of Strip Club U and PANDA. RCI CEO Eric Langan also fielded questions.

DJ Platypus
DJ Platypus

The Webcon also addressed the potential shift in demographic toward younger (40 and under) guests less wary of the coronavirus and more willing to venture into the opened public.

“The key to any informative announcements has to be done, especially now, in a calm, confident manner,” DJ Platypus said. “This is terrible timing for jokes. I know hundreds of DJs who think comedy is a source of entertainment, which it is, but sometimes in the club it can get misconstrued. Be careful joking about gloves and toilet paper right out of the gate.”

As reopening guidelines vary at the local level, it will be imperative for DJs to relay the appropriate messages, including those that may be posted around the club but ignored by patrons.

Meyers said DJs are tasked with ensuring the club’s mood is a positive one.

“We need to make sure that our customers are safe, but that they feel safe,” he said, citing a Lowe’s trip and constant public-service announcements. “We have to not be a comedian, but you don’t want to be an authoritarian, that riot cop blaring ‘You have to stand back.'”

Our culture is used to a guy randomly walking up to a girl in a thong and putting a dollar bill in the thong. We can’t do that now. It’s those little things that you don’t even think of that are part of our daily routine that are going to need the most attention. — DJ Platypus

“If you have the ability to take your medium and put it on your television in a creative way, that goes a long way because our customers are already pre-trained to look at the TVs,” DJ Platypus said. “You have to make the new normal actually seem normal.”

The new normal could mean: tipping trays to reduce contact between customers and entertainers, 25-50% occupancy, and minimal “friction dancing.”

“Our culture is used to a guy randomly walking up to a girl in a thong and putting a dollar bill in the thong,” DJ Platypus said. “We can’t do that now. It’s those little things that you don’t even think of that are part of our daily routine that are going to need the most attention.”

Danny Meyers
Danny Meyers

DJ Platypus does believe this moment presents DJs an opportunity to step up their entertainment game.

“This is your time to shine. This is your time right now to change that one problem that every one of you have said something to me about,” he said, adding the progress made now can pay dividends tenfold down the road when the in-public conditions have returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“If you do everything today like they ask, the quicker you’ll have your customer buying bottles. The more you complain or resist, the longer it’s going to be and we all suffer,” DJ Platypus said.

“As time goes on, we’re going to start having to do things that get some people in the club, that entertain people that’s not a lapdance, that’s not a hot girl sitting on your lap,” he added, saying he reverted to his college mentality of operating on a shoe-string budget and getting creative.

Ideas included ‘Kill the keg Night’, cleaning crews composed of entertainers, entertainment fashion shows, a gameshow-themed night and essentially incorporating an adult element to some of the quarantine entertainment most people have endured at home.

Other takeaways:

  • Meyers mentioned he will be keeping a log of announcements including the content and times. “This way if we get into a little bit of a legal mess, I at least will have a piece of paper saying ‘At 11:45 I made an announcement about the six-foot rule, at 11:50 I made an announcement…”
  • Learning from prior experience, Langan suggested clubs stagger in-person employee meetings (such as thirds or day and night shifts) to reduce spread if someone tests positive for coronavirus versus all-employee meetings. “This is going to be a learning curve for everybody. I recommend anybody that has an issue, please share.”
  • TikTok, a video-sharing social networking service, is the social media platform du jour. DJ Platypus compared the various social media sites to family members: Myspace is the grandparent, Facebook is the parent, Twitter is the cool aunt/uncle, Instagram is the sibling, TikTok is the new best friend.
  • While reduced-capacity crowds may skew younger at first, Meyers said it won’t drastically alter his music selection. “If that 40- or 50-something (year-old) customer does come in, I don’t want them to feel out of place. I don’t want them to feel we turned this into a college bar. I’m going to be a little hesitant to make any major music changes. I’ll have the conversations with my owners, general manager if they have a different theory.”

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