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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Saturday 10 April 2021

Brighton-Based Nightclub & Festival Organisers Offer A Ray Of Hope As Thousands Of Event Tickets Are Sold

Shooshh is arguably Brighton's most popular beach nightclub. 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.

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 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.

Alex Isles & Paris Oconnell said:

"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."

Albie Sailba (owner) added:

"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."

For the latest updates on the reopening of Shooshh CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley

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