How the absence of nightlife has affected McGill student culture

Going out to clubs and bars is a huge part of social life at university, especially at McGill. Due to public health restrictions introduced amidst the pandemic, it could be a while before students will be able to have a night out again. Beyond the current negative impacts on students’ social lives, the loss of nightlife may change the way students blow off steam in the coming months. 

Zenya Hendricks, U0 Arts, is currently living in Carrefour Sherbrooke. Hendricks expressed her disappointment regarding the first year experience amidst a pandemic. 

“I wasn’t particularly interested in partying [before university] because I don’t drink, but I was hopeful that I could make friends with people who wouldn’t mind if I didn’t drink and I would still be able to experience the Montreal nightlife with them,” Hendricks wrote in a message to the Tribune

 Nightlife acts as an outlet for student connection outside the academic context. Previously, for many first-year students, going to pubs and clubs was a quick way to get to know people, as well as explore Montreal. 

“I wanted to come to Montreal instead of staying home this semester because I wanted to meet lots of like-minded people, but since there are so few ways to do that now, I have very few friends, with whom I can’t even meet,”  Hendricks wrote. “We’re cooped up inside our dorms most of the time, unable to meet with friends very often, with ridiculous workloads that often don’t take into account the fact that many of us are feeling depressed and/or anxious.”

However, some students are handling the circumstances by exploring different hobbies with the new-found alone time. In a Reddit poll of McGill students surrounding the topic, 53 out of 262 student participants said they were trying a new hobby, while 112 said they were playing video games to pass time, and the rest were either on virtual hangouts or learning new skills. It seems that students are finding new ways to unwind, attempting to fill the void that nightclubs have left. 

For Gabriel Richard-Gaudet, U1 Arts, the absence of the city’s nightlife has allowed him to develop a new hobby. Richard-Gaudet has used the newfound time to develop his music production skills, an interest developed while reminiscing about club music. 

“I really miss some aspects of going clubbing, like the music, so I thought instead I could try and recreate some of the sounds I hear myself,” Richard-Gaudet wrote. “I’ve been producing beats with my roommates and we’ve been having a great time just playing with sounds. My other friends like to make beats and sing as well and we just recently got signed into a student record label, [called Green House Effect].”

For students like Richard-Gaudet, the loss of nightlife can also lead to a potential gain: More time for other activities or to connect with our peers in novel ways. However, this may not be possible for all students, especially those living in residence by themselves or those residing outside of Montreal. For these students, it is important to be reminded that these are unique circumstances and these difficulties will not be permanent. The days of dancing the night away in a club will return soon.

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