Brighton Based Nightclub & Festival Organisers Offer A Ray Of Hope To The Industry As The Sell Out Of Thousands Of Event Tickets.
Shooshh is arguably Brighton’s most popular and much loved beach
nightclub. This famous venue spreads over 2 floors and boasts 3 rooms of music, contemporary interiors, and glitzy VIP Lounge Areas. Shooshh Brighton’s Artist Hotspot, features live shows and sits only a stone’s throw away from Brighton Palace Pier, The pandemic left the club and its team with the constant challenge of reinventing itself to adapt to new rules wherever it was possible in order to survive.
Mindful of this its lead management team of Alex Isles & Paris Oconnell also had to prepare and plan for a distant future and reopening in some form with various back up plans guessing at possible restrictions they may face, and now with 21st of June set as the potential date for a full lifting of restrictions, club owner Albie Saliba describes the debt of gratitude he says he owes to his team at all his venues for their hard work and efforts over the last 12 months with additional thanks to his management team of Alex & Paris, we spoke to Albie and the management team to find out about the last year and what is planned for 2021, out of lockdown.
Late-night venues such as indoor nightclubs and music festivals have
been among the cultural organisations most severely impacted by the
pandemic and least helped with grants. The night time economy has
suffered greatly due to COVID 19, and the sector is facing major
challenges in the future but one small team in Brighton shows how the industry is and can bounce back, with innovation and determination and a will to succeed this small team has overcome the odds and in the 3 weeks since Boris Johnson’s road map announcement have released plans of safe outdoor events for not only their seafront venues but festivals as well, and the public response in support has been huge, with many events selling out. In a matter of hours on that morning over 20,000 tickets were sold across the UK.
A TROUBLED YEAR Alex Isles & Paris Oconnell (management)
Shooshh as a Nightclub and all our other venues and events have been closed since the 23rd March 2020 when the first national lockdown was announced. At that time, all trade ceased instantly and completely. Guidelines were very unclear initially and for a long time we were very unsure if we would be able to operate at all. In addition to our nightclubs, we also own and work alongside a number of high-profile events and festivals – all of which were cancelled shortly after the March 23rd announcement.
What was shaping up to be the biggest year in all of our careers was
being taken from us day by day. We made the decision to instantly offer our loyal customers refunds on all tickets and bookings and refunded hundreds of thousands of tickets across a multitude of events within that first two to three weeks. Then the full impact hit us all in the office, with all the lost bookings, lost deposits and lose of all revenue. It was a scary time but we wanted to do the right thing as we were very aware if we could get through this we would need that loyal support and trust from our customers in order to bounce back, We to this day have received no government support at any of our venues or businesses, and any applications we did make for help were rejected.
During the year wherever possible and where the rules permitted we
tried to reinvent and adapt to open in some shape of form to trade but
these plans quite often were stopped before we could even start with the out of the blue changes in rules as the pandemic spread, but we all tried to remain positive no matter how many times the rug was pulled from under us, Albie our boss’ nature and energy was always 100% and that gave us the hope and freedom to think outside of the box again and again and again, but finally with the 3rd lockdown in December we again were forced to shut in the knoledge that somehow we would have to get to Spring before we had any hope of being able to trade. This again was a scary time facing another year of restrictions and closures.
THE ROAD MAP IS ANNOUNCED Albie Sailba (owner)
In late February the route out of lockdown in Boris’ road map was
announced with outdoor pub gardens being able to open in April and all restrictions (hopefully) being lifted in June, when I heard this news I cannot say the relief that I felt to have dates we could work too, and
light at the end of the tunnel all we now had to do was work out what we could do within the law and rules and then try and sell that and hope our customers would support it, even though months and months away, I turned to my lead team at the nightclub of Alex & Paris and Luke Ralph my partner at Boundary Festival to come up with ideas and events we could do and try and sell.
Within a week this amazing team came back to me with a multitude of plans and ideas for events as well as dates and a framework for some of our festivals too, I still remember the afternoon the first of those plans went live on our social media and we all sat in the office almost in silence thinking how these events would be received. It didn’t take long to find out, the response was off the charts, we saw tickets selling faster than we had ever known, with our first huge event across all our seafront venues for the night of no restrictions selling out of all tickets that day !! The good news and responses just kept coming, one after another evening dates at the clubs sold out, each day another and another.
I cannot begin to describe the relief I felt and huge debt of thanks to
my team in the office, good people are so hard to find these days but
good people have kept the faith through the nightmare of the last 12
months and when called on have risen up and gone above and beyond anything I could have imagined. I couldn’t be more proud of them and greatful of their collective efforts to the ends of we are now even looking at opening another new venue in the summer of 2021 when many venues are struggling to reopen, I share my success with my team and a final word of special thanks to Alex and Paris, excellent staff that make your teams are so hard to find so look after them.
Sundown at Shooshh was born…”The UK’s First Real Sunset
Experience”…Fortunate to have a large outdoor terrace – usually used for our Day Trade (Pub Style Food/Soft and Alcoholic Drinks 12pm-8pm every day) throughout the Spring Months. The terrace sits right on the beach, redesigned and rebranded. Incorporating our tables, we will offer the UK’s first Social But Distant Event. A fully Covid compliant nightclub experience – complete with Brighton sunset when it’s willing to perform! running at a reduced capacity throughout this spring/summer with our Socially Distanced Terrace and Tables.
Student events // Matt Elliot who runs the in house student night called WTF which is also Brighton biggest student night has built a whole new platform for 14+ events during lockdown called NexGen which we will be announcing in the next few weeks.
Our festivals // Alas, taking all the considerations that are required
to ensure people’s well-being and safety, we currently looking at our Autumn Boundary Festival Sussex, Together Beach Festival and the Noughty 90s Festival Newcastle as our only larger scale events in 2021 so our teams can focus on these to make sure these go ahead and our artists, safe and customers remain 100% safe.
The team across all venues // All of our staff were placed under the
government furlough scheme. Fortunately, we were able to retain 90% of our brilliant staff
Positive Vibes // From our recent event launches, we can tell that
the youth culture is more desperate than ever to be able to go out and socialise. We have a whole generation of party-goers who became of age during the lockdown and are yet to experience a nightclub environment. People are desperate for live music, outdoor and indoor events. Therefore, we look forward very much to welcoming everybody back to our venues and getting the party reignited. We are working on an exciting schedule for the rest of the year, so watch this space.
Inspiration to others // We genuinely believe that any nightclub or
nightclub operator that was fortunate enough to survive this pandemic will come out stronger. The industry received very little or no support in some cases, and the saddest part of all of this is that there will be some who don’t make it back – the industry took a big hit.
A message for the future // This is a New Era of clubbing. People are desperate to experience the things they used to take for granted.
OUR EVENTS 2021
Together Festival – Already Sold Out!
Richy Ahmed at (at the Arch)
Noughty 90s Festival Newcastle
Opening a Brand New Seafront Venue – The IGLU
Relaunching The Arch with a complete refurb – Feat: Biggest Screen/Funktion 1 Sound System in Sussex.
Wtf – Brighton’s Craziest Student Nights
NexGen 14+ Events with a host of Artist Appearances
Unity Club Nights – a clubbing experience for people with Learning Disabilities
Mambos Ibiza Brighton Seafront Takeover at Shooshh/the Arch
The Launch of our own Energy Drink (WnB Energy/Wicked N’ Bad Energy)
Wicked N’ Bad’s second PPV Fight (Our first one trended no.1 on Twitter in world)