People shake their groove things online while nightclubs are closed
At 10pm, Lu Yiting turned off the lights in her Beijing home wearing pajamas, tuned into a livestreaming music remix channel on her iPhone and danced to the disco beats.
“Online disco dancing, though not as intense as in nightclubs, offers an outlet for emotions, and adds some color to my dull, stay-at-home life,” Lu said. Since the coronavirus outbreak, Lu has stayed home for more than a month. Nightclubs, among other entertainment venues across China, have been closed to prevent crowd gathering.
It was Lu’s first “cloud disco dancing” experience. On their smartphone screens, participants noted their cities and sent comments and virtual presents to the DJ so their chat heads could linger a little longer.
At the same time, thousands of miles away in the eastern Chinese city of Yixing, Xia Yun purchased gifts for the DJ.
“Online disco dancing is more about self-entertaining than socializing with others,” he said. “Drinking a beer or two and sweating a little bit while dancing really helps release some pressure.”
On February 8, Shanghai’s TAXX Bar launched an unprecedented “cloud disco dancing” session on TikTok, drawing tens of thousands of revelers. Later, TAXX announced the number of online participants stood at 71,000, and the club made 367,000 yuan (US$53,000) after paying TikTok’s commission.
Live-streaming disco became an instant hit and was labeled “cloud disco dancing” on Twitter-like Weibo the next day. Inspired by TAXX, many nightclubs in China launched livestreaming events on various platforms.
The ongoing epidemic has affected China’s entertainment industry, forcing shutdowns and leaving facilities idle. Nightclub owners, like so many other business operators, resorted to online space for self-preservation.
“There is not much to do for many young people after staying home for so long,” said Ruan Liangliang, general manager of TAXX. “We’d like to share some fun through livestreaming music and beats and lighten their mood.”
Club MEI in Changsha, a central Chinese city famous for its nightlife, also joined the disco cloud last month.
“Livestreaming has even attracted those who have rarely or never been to a club,” said Cao Jing, stage performance manager of Club MEI.
“Our TikTok fans have increased by more than 500 percent, and our number of livestreaming viewers doubled. We’ve attracted more followers over the past few weeks than we had in the past year.”
Every day of the week at 8:30pm, Club MEI livestreams performances. The DJ, in addition to mixing music, chats with online participants. Newcomers learn more about nightclub culture and the venue and become potential consumers.
“Every day I’m asked when the club will open,” Cao said. “It’s probably because many people believe our reopening signifies the end of the epidemic.”
Some nightclubs, including TAXX, have gone the extra mile to donate online broadcasting proceeds to fight the coronavirus in Wuhan.
“Although this is a difficult time for the company, it’s the least we can do as a members of society,” Ruan said.
Clearly, livestreaming is a temporary means to fill business voids during such an unusual time, but it has taught club owners the importance of promoting nightclub brands to online communities.
Cao said Club MEI will retain, and even expand, their livestreaming team when the epidemic ends while integrating online and offline promotions.