Swept out of the bar at midnight: ‘Grab your coat and keep moving’

15 Nov 2021

Standing around drunk as a skunk in the pub at 21:00 and sitting in class the next morning without a hangover; anything is possible nowadays. The night life has changed a lot since the bars started closing at midnight. However, not everyone heads home right at the stroke of midnight.

Having dinner on time and an early drink at home so you can spend at least three hours in the pub. That is the ticket, according to Iris Klijsen (23), master student of pedagogical sciences. ‘Otherwise going into town is no longer worth the trouble’, she says.

While many a boomer puts on the evening news, many students nowadays are off dancing in pubs. They don’t have much of a choice: because of the corona regulations, bars and restaurants have had to close at midnight since halfway through July. Consequently, the entire night life has shifted to the early evening; familiar news to everyone who has gone out in Nijmegen or worked in the catering industry in the past few months.

Students are disappointed

‘The city has really come alive’, according to Gerard Vogels, owner of Café Groots. ‘Especially on Wednesdays and Thursdays you can find a lot of students in the city centre. I usually open the doors around eight, but with the many constitution drinks lately, more and more often we start at 18:00.’

‘Sadly, starting early also means ending early and that really sucks’, says psychology student Veroniek Kersten (18). ‘I have water polo practice twice weekly until 22:30. That means that there are already at least two nights a week where I can’t go out.’

Klijsen is also disappointed. ‘You’ve only just started dancing, and before you know it it’s 23:45 and the lights come back on. Then the bar staff sweeps you out the door as fast as they can with the message: “grab your coat and keep moving.”

Less tired

Vogel recognises the image painted by Klijsen. ‘It really is a shame. I can tell that all the young people are still bursting with energy and don’t want to go home yet. I would love it if we could stay open until 1 or 2 AM.’ According to the barkeep, that would be better not only for the students and the business, but the city as well. ‘Now the whole group’s outside at the stroke of midnight; that causes a lot of trouble in the neighbourhood. If we could stay open longer, the crowd can be spread out much more.

Rindert Oost (23) thinks the early closing time is not so bad. ‘You’re in bed much sooner, you sleep much better than you would if you got home at 05:00, and the greatest benefit: You’re much less tired’, according to the premaster student of environment and society. However, he does experience a lot more pressure when going out these days. ‘It’s a bit like going out to eat with friends when we still had a curfew. You have to rush to enjoy the evening and that leaves no room for spontaneity.’

‘You have to rush to enjoy the evening’

But for many people the evening does not end around midnight. Kersten: ‘At that point everyone’s outside in front of the pub, talking away. Often, somebody will ask if there’s an after somewhere. The night’s still young. I wouldn’t mind grabbing a pint somewhere and dancing some more.’

Oost says that he and his housemates organise a house party every once awhile. ‘Then it suddenly doesn’t matter whether or not it’s midnight.’

Self-test

The students are not worried about being infected with corona at parties not in the hospitality industry. Klijsen: ‘I’m young and almost everybody has been vaccinated. The odds of getting infected are incredibly small.’ Oost is also not afraid of catching the virus. ‘In the summer we did a self-test before we went to a party, but nowadays all my friends are vaccinated and we don’t do it anymore,’ the student says.

Students do not stand out when it comes to the number of corona infections, according to figures by the RIVM. Among 20- to 29-year-olds there are now 45 positive tests per 100.000 people; this is comparable to the group of 30- to 49-year-olds. One group that does stand out is school children aged 12 to 19, with 54 positive tests per 100.000 people.

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