Can we have a party yet?

Lockdown may be "sort of" over....for now. But there's little chance of partying this side of Christmas

Lockdown has been a very long and hard time for everyone involved in the wedding and entertainment industry, as well as the world population in general.

The restrictions are slowly lifting, but we’re not there yet

Wedding & Party DJ at Anstey Hall in Cambridge
Laura & Haydn's evening reception at Anstey Hall in Cambridge

The photo you see above was taken on 29th February 2020 during Laura & Haydn’s evening reception at Anstey Hall in Cambridge. As far as I’m aware, it was the last wedding to be held there before the Covid lockdown. It’s certainly the last wedding I did this year!

How times have changed….

Last week in my temporary job as a supermarket delivery driver, I drove my van down the very same driveway to deliver a customer’s shopping instead of a night of fun and dancing!

I’ve also received a National Highly Commended Award from the Wedding Business Awards….also whilst sitting in the cab of my van instead of a plush gala dinner.

2020 for the entire wedding industry was to be a bumper year –  a new decade always means a busier year. Personally, I started the year with 42 weddings already booked and more enquiries coming in daily.

Thankfully, all of this year’s weddings have now successfully rescheduled to 2021 and unlike some of my competitors, at no extra cost!

As is the case with many self employed people (I work with several DJs, driving instructors, private tutors and even an ex airline pilot at the moment), I’ve had to look elsewhere to earn a living whilst I’m not able to do what I love doing in “normal” times. After all, wedding entertainment is usually my full time job!

And then, the UK “roadmap” was introduced as to when the lockdown would be relaxed and things would return to pre-Covid status.

July 4th was definitely a date in my diary!

Wedding & Party DJ at The Old Hall Ely Beth & Tom3

The results weren't unexpected!

Sadly, the recent “unlocking” of lockdown doesn’t yet include parties.

I’ll be honest I wasn’t expecting it to, and most of my trusted colleagues/friends within the wedding industry would agree with that sentiment.

A full dance floor of singing and hugging guests whilst under the influence of alcohol is NEVER going to work whilst social distancing is a thing. Add to that the humid and sweaty atmosphere generated during a good party, the potential for aerosol particles to be transmitted into the air with shouting, cheering and singing….parties are a massive COVID incubator and spreader.

COVID loves a good party!

It’s a sad fact of life. As humans, we’re social creatures. We like close contact, we like to dance and sing, and so does Covid. Just look to countries like the USA where such activities have been allowed and you’ll see what’s happening with the dreaded R number.

It’s now September and we still can’t party as we used to

As I sit and update this post, the future is still very uncertain for what I usually do for a living. There are rumours of a bigger easing of restrictions in October, but with CV19 cases on the rise again, it’s looking more and more likely that I’m off the road until after the winter Flu season next Spring. 

That’s a whole year off work!

Sarah & Nigel's wedding reception at Forest Lodge Weddings in Thetford

But the government have allowed weddings again haven't they?

Yes they have – but not as you’re expecting just yet!

The rules at the time I’m writing this post say that you can have up to 30 guests at your ceremony, a lot less than most weddings but a start. To make things more interesting, people like videographers and photographers count as guests!

There will however be no singing!

As for the wedding breakfast, it gets a lot more complicated. 

The rules and guidance on who can gather, when, how and for what purpose are changing almost daily but in a nutshell, food and drink must be served at the table, guests mustn’t  have to raise their voices to hold a conversation, there will be no mingling between tables….sounds pretty sterile doesn’t it? 🙁 

And the most important rule of all?

Dancing is not permitted!

Whilst music IS allowed during your wedding breakfast, it must be strictly kept to background levels to avoid guests raising their voices.

Add to this that you’re again restricted to 30 people which include suppliers (but not venue staff), and you can see that the wedding reception of just a few months ago is off the agenda for the time being.

And when it comes to the evening party, that’s sadly a big no-no at the moment.

Loud music and dancing is actually prohibited by law at the moment, regardless of the venue or setting. In fact garden parties are prohibited too because they can’t be certified as being Covid Secure.

The UK media at the moment are having a field day highlighting the fact that illicit parties are being broken up by the police, and even more so when a DJ is involved!

The fines are horrendous too!

At the time of updating this post (3rd September 2020), as the organiser of an illegal gathering you could be liable for a fine of up to £10,000, with your guests fined £100 EACH for being there.

I can have my equipment (many thousands of pounds) confiscated!

That’s a risk I’m really not willing to take.

Imagine Wedding & Party Entertainment

It's actually illegal for me to work at the moment!

As a DJ, I fall into the category of “live entertainment”. I’m not insured to work because the current restrictions actually invalidate my insurance – and I’m off the road for a good time to come. Current estimates are that we’ll be allowed back out on the road in some sort of restricted form (maybe the numbers of guests, maybe with face coverings, maybe with dance floor social distancing) around Easter 2021.

The official advice from our trade association (National Association of Disc Jockeys) says:

With regards to gatherings, meeting outdoors in a group of up to 6 people with those you do not live with is now permitted, but you should do this while observing social distancing guidelines and keeping at least 2 metres apart. However, what is not permitted, is meet other people indoors – including in their home or enclosed space or meet outdoors in a group of more than 6 with people who are not in your household or support bubble. The NADJ believe to offer DJ services such as garden parties with these guidelines in mind would be irresponsible as the DJ performing the service would neither be part of that support bubble or household. This is prohibited in law and we need to understand that relevant authorities, including the police, have the powers to enforce the law – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

Life WILL return to normality one day, but it’s going to take a little bit of time for it to be safe.

I’ve always believed in being honest, and law abiding in everything I do, and I’m not about to change that attitude anytime soon. 

Whilst it’s costing me a LOT of money to keep the heart of Imagine ticking over (I still have to pay for secure storage, insurance, web hosting, phone lines….the list is endless!), it’s a price I’m prepared to pay until such time as I’m allowed to legally and safely do what I absolutely LOVE doing for a living again.

Imagine WILL survive the current restrictions (many of my fellow entertainers won’t and have already thrown in the proverbial towel!), and when the time is right I’ll be there to do what I do best and keep you and your guests entertained for your special day!

Until then, the safety of you, your guests, and indeed myself, is important and I’m not going to compromise that for any amount of money!

Let's talk!