Bars, nightspots struggle to spark to life after lifting of the lockdown

For two years during the Covid-19 lockdown, entertainment places such as bars and nightclubs were shut down, taking a sting out of the nightlife.

To plug the boredom hole, youths became addicted to shows like NBS TV’s Catch Up and Saturday Night Live whose setting resembled that of night clubs.

With the reopening of the full economy last month, there had been great anticipation that the entertainment scene would regain its groove.

Bar and club operators renovated their premises and stocked all tribes of drinks, waiting for the revelers to raid.

Three weeks later, it is still a mixed bag for the operators and the revelers.

Some of the operators told Youth Blitz that business was still slow, while others said the signs are encouraging.

As for the youthful revelers who used to patronize these places, despite the fact that there is no curfew in place.

Andrew Mubiru, 24, a regular club goer before the lockdown said he is still trying to get to terms with the fact that the night scene is fully open after two years of lockdown.

“I always find myself home by 8.00 PM even when there is nothing for me to do there,” he said. “I pass by my local bar and after two hours I sign out.”

Before the lockdown, Mubiru said the earliest he would go home was 11.00PM, during the weekdays. On weekends, he would stretch his night activities to the wee hours of the next day.

Mubiru believes that his mind is yet to adjust to the fact that bars are now fully open.

Martha Atuhaire, 31, who described herself as a clubist, said she was yet to hit the nightlife for financial reasons.

“I have two kids who have just returned to school so after paying tuition and other requirements, I am broke,” said the single mother of two.

She hoped to return “full swing” at the beginning of March when her financial situation will improve.

Other youths echoed Atuhaire’s sentiments about being ‘broke.’

“You can’t go to the bar with empty pockets. You need to have some bit of money and right now many of us don’t,” said Kayiira Godfrey, 27.

Some of the club owners we talked to attributed the lukewarm reception to the re-opening of bars to the prevailing harsh economic conditions.

“People have not been earning and even the little money they got, they paid school fees. It is hurting our businesses but we understand,” said Jolly Asiimwe, the proprietor of Jolly’s Joint in Naalya. Before the lockdown, she said, she used to sell at least three crates of beer a day. Today she sells one crate when the “day is good.”

Rhona Mukisa the owner of Rhonaz Spirits and Wine Spot, too, said the entertainment scene was not yet vibrant.

“I get a few customers but generally business is yet to pick up,” she said.

Mukisa said that before the lockdown, she used to close at 1.00 am. Now she closes by 9PM because there are no customers.

At other hangouts, the picture was not that dire.

A manager at Max Lounge, one of the most popular hangouts in Kyaliwajjala, Wakiso district, said so far business is good.

“As you can see, the parking is already full. Our patrons appreciate the quality of our services that is why they have returned in big numbers,” the manager said.

“Hopefully this lasts.”

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