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Going Out vs Staying In: The Covid Conundrum

And… we’re finally allowed out! On 9 August 2021, nightclubs in Scotland opened for the first time since March 2020. I made the most of this during Freshers’ Week 2021, and it was a strange mix of feeling like it had been an eternity since a night out and, simultaneously, like no time had passed at all.

It actually took me a while to finally go on a night out in St Andrews this year, albeit not by choice. I arrived the week before Freshers’ Week officially began, and my flatmates and I tried the union three nights in a row before it actually opened (staff shortages, delivery problems and isolation scares apparently being the cause of its closure).

Finally, we went on a night when the Union was open, and the numbers showed that people sure knew that. The amount of people crammed into the tiny dance floor was insane. Nights out are funny like that; on trains, in queues, or in lifts everyone hates being squished into one another. But on a night out, it is a quintessential part of the experience. That’s not to say it wasn’t strange for some people, though, after a year of keeping two metres apart.

As I say, I found it surprisingly ‘normal’ to be back in such a tight sweaty space — but I am aware that not everyone feels this way. Whether due to COVID-19 anxiety, or merely being now accustomed to proper personal space, it is completely understandable that there are those who feel uncomfortable going from one extreme to the other.

Of course, there are people who might feel quite the opposite. Instead of feeling unprepared to go out again, there are those who are desperate to make the most of every opportunity now that we’re allowed to. In a strange way, this can put undue pressure on people, as if trying to catch up with all the missed opportunities over the past 18 months. This is made more acute in the university experience as students are eager to meet more people and make friends (although I have to say- I’m not sure the Union is necessarily the best place to do this. Trying to gauge what subject someone studies whilst Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ blasts in the background is easier said than done). If FOMO existed before the pandemic, it is perhaps even more of a concern for people now, as they feel they have already missed out on so much.

There are also other factors that play into the question of going out again. For example, the cost of going out has risen considerably as businesses have had to up their prices to survive the pandemic. Indeed, the Union is now charging £1 for entry after 10:30pm. It’s understandable given the difficult financial circumstances that the Union has found itself in, but this then creates an extra worry in preparing for a night out. Extra expenses surrounding drinks and entry fees may be difficult to justify in a pandemic-less world after so long making do without them .

So, with all of these things to think about, how do we go about nights out?

I suppose, like everything in life, it should be about balance. For those people not comfortable yet with going on a night out and being crammed with other people, there is no need to force it. Fortunately, there are plenty of other social events this year which are a little more… spacious. For those feeling the pressure to go out every night, it’s important to think about whether you want to. If you do, fair play, and I admire your energy. But, if you’re not feeling it, that’s okay too. I promise you, you won’t be missing out on all social opportunities for the rest of the year by not going on one night out.

The whole point of having bars, night clubs and pubs open again is for people to enjoy them. So, make it an enjoyable experience for yourself by joining in with whatever you feel comfortable with!

Emma Gatrell

St Andrews '24

Hi, I'm Emma! I'm studying History at St Andrews. Things I love include good books, cats, and drinking lots of tea.
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