Gainesville concert halls continue to adapt amid pandemic


Roaring crowds, the thud of electric bass and the sonorous vigor of percussion – the Gainesville venues are bringing it all back and slowly healing the local community from the shutdowns of the past year and a half.

With the recent resurgence of live music, venues in Gainesville are adapting to COVID-19 protocols while keeping the concert spirit alive. These venues tailor the concert experience to the ongoing pandemic by instituting rules that will ensure the safety of the public as much as possible.

Different venues have taken different approaches to balancing COVID security with the enjoyment of concerts. Many indoor venues like High Dive require masks at all shows, with stricter regulations at some shows.

For shows with a higher expected attendance at High Dive, negative COVID tests are required, or attendees can voluntarily show their proof of vaccination as an alternative.

According to Pat Lavery, facilities and events manager for High Dive, these policies are coordinated with artists, counsel and industry professionals across Florida and the country.

Some sites across the state have not instituted similar policies. Indie-pop duo Tennis canceled their October 22 show in St. Petersburg because the venue, Jannus Live, would not allow warrants for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

“It’s really frustrating that the burden of health and safety so often falls on the group,” the group said on their Instagram account.

Lavery said the community of Gainesville has mostly respected the adjustments that have been made. Along with the community, the staff at sites like High Dive also respect the adjustments. According to Lavery, the staff at High Dive like to know that the company is taking extra precautions for their health.

“Our policies have been positive, increasing customer confidence in safety,” Lavery wrote in an email. “Our venue is an economic engine for our community and our ability to once again host large touring concerts has energized the community around us. “

As a local profit force, sites are faced with the task of keeping customers safe while staying open. High Dive in particular gives local artists a chance to open up for larger touring groups, making the venue a vital financial resource for the community.

According to Lavery, for every $ 1 of ticket sales generated at High Dive, surrounding businesses make an average profit of $ 12.

Other concert halls have also had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Wooly, a banquet hall in Gainesville, is a more versatile venue than its local counterparts. It has hosted concerts, art exhibitions and film screenings, among other events.

According to Bailey Bruce, the events director, the venue’s first musical event since February 2020 was in May. In July, the venue held its first full concert since then.

Bruce said attendees are encouraged to wear masks. The response to the return of live events, she said, has been a warm welcome.

“Everyone was delighted to be there. It was a great turnout and there was joy in the air.

The Delta variant, which hit Gainesville in late July, set The Wooly back further. But the venue didn’t slow down – they put on several dance parties and another concert at the end of September. During these events, masks were compulsory.

Bruce said that although the turnout was lower, it is impossible to determine if the reason was the pandemic. Many factors such as the artists playing or the timing could have affected the participation rate.

“The music scene seems to have taken a hit,” Bruce said. “People are finally playing more concerts again, but it was hard to argue. “

According to Bruce, about 90% of The Wooly’s events are private parties, so the lack of concerts hasn’t negatively affected their business. Bruce said they were grateful for the business they had as these private events kept them afloat as the music scene shrank.

The return of live events has not only represented a financial rebound, but also a moral boost. Venues like High Dive and The Wooly have missed the community development aspect that the local music scene brings to Gainesville.

“The success of live music contributes to a healthier community,” Lavery said.

Bruce relayed feelings of hope. “It’s going to come back,” she said. “It’s more just to miss it.”

With these places learning to adapt to the pandemic, Gainesville’s music scene is once again restoring the spirit of the community.

Contact Anushka at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @anushkadak.

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Anushka Dakshit

Anushka, a third year in journalism and feminist studies. She has previously been published in Local Wolves Magazine and is the Editorial Director of Rowdy Magazine. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to old Bollywood music and learning about the ‘processes’ of other writers and obsessing over them whenever she feels like she has no idea what is going on. ‘she does (which is often the case).

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