When I agreed to writing this column, I promised myself I wouldn’t reference Covid or talk about how AI will take over all of our jobs. Probably a bad start if you have to flout one of those rules in the first paragraph. But I promise it’ll just be for the introduction. So here goes: I’m sure we all remember that one of the things we missed so dearly whilst being locked in our homes was the trip to the pub. Catching up with friends, having a few drinks, simply meeting people… how could something so simple all of a sudden be gone?

For some, it wasn’t just the trip to the pub though. It was the trip to the nightclub that they missed most. A lot of pubs had to shut for good, but this was even worse for nightclubs, and unfortunately, that trend seems to continue. According to industry insights firm CGA, over 30% of UK nightclubs have shut their doors forever since March 2020. The Night Time Industry Association reports that in the last 12 months alone, over 100 independent nightclubs were lost.

When I presented those figures at the most recent edition of MAD//Fest, I could literally see the jaws of the audience drop. It was obvious that many of them knew exactly what I was talking about and had many fond memories of nights spent dancing. Seeing those numbers obviously triggered something, a sense of genuine concern, a realisation along the lines of “I knew there was an issue, but I had no idea the problem was that big!”

It is big, because it is a big industry. Last year, the UK night-time economy provided employment to around 9m people. It was the UK’s 5th-biggest industry in 2019. I wouldn’t be surprised if many a marketing career was started behind the bar in a nightclub.

So why do people care about nightclubs, especially people in the marketing industry? I suppose it goes back to something every good marketing analysis should start with: human needs. Nightclubs give us something that humans genuinely need. They play a vital role in society that is often overlooked.

Dancing is known to release endorphins and promote a sense of happiness. But nightclubs also provide opportunities for social interaction and connection; here is where you make friends, meet like-minded people - and simply feel good. They are spaces where individuals can express themselves freely and feel more comfortable to show their true selves, which builds self-confidence and self-esteem and has a positive impact on mental health. 

If it’s not clear yet: I’m arguing here that nightclubs need our support. They’re becoming an endangered species but are vital to our wellbeing. So the next time you’re on the fence about whether to go home or to go clubbing, remind yourself:  you won’t just treat yourself and help the people working there. You’ll also play a part in ensuring that future generations will be able to enjoy them, too.

Christian will be writing a regular column for MAD//Insight throughout the year.