Its strange how a date sticks with you, isn't it.
I thought we shouldn't pass up a quick zip through a time that has changed so much for so many while trying to maintain some kind of normality. To all those who sadly aren't with us anymore or able to come and rock as you once did - you will be missed.
Two years ago to the day I'm writing this we were sat dumbstruck at what had been announced the night before from the PM who said don't go to bars or generally go out as this new virus thing called Covid sweeping through Europe had now landed on our shores and spreading fast.
A state of lockdown never seen in peacetime before was soon to be upon us.
What the hell is going on, how long is this going to last, what are we going to do ran through our minds all that day as there was pretty much zero information or assistance. We knew it was now survival mode to endure the financial pain that lay ahead if we could not open and generate income as we have always done for decades.
Not one to lie down or throw in the towel that easily we set about working the challenge like the mad men that we are. Whilst cutting costs and seeking information we hunkered down got on with what we could to maintain also prepare the venue for what we thought at the time would just be a few weeks holiday.....mibbey a month and a bit (well I did) until this virus ran it's course and blew itself out on the small reserve we had set aside for more upgrades at the club.
Months on from that fateful day we were still looking for the answers we needed but thankfully some support and financial relief was dribbling our way as Governments grappled with the covid jaggy nettle.
It was a small relief we were allowed with "alot" of changes to operate simply as a bar from July that year so to try and generate some vital income as reserves we had for a planned upgrade were running low also get as many staff back to work and of course start to see all of you again in still a very much make things up as we go approach from Governments.
One main mission certainly was for us in this period that carried on throughout the pandemic was to take measures and maintain them for everyone's wellbeing and safety. Something that even to this weekend we still remind everyone to follow, possibly that has been detrimental to business in order to keep a lid as best we can on infections in the venue.
It was far from what we do that it was quite impossible to put into words how much we didn't like that time, even more so when background music was "banned" from all bars and venues because it could spark extra transmission in the August. The first of many bizarre twists and turns set to test us and take the whole industry to breaking point.
We had no option to work with the shifting sands of guidance also new legalities along with the newly established facebook legal and covid experts paying their 2 pence to say how it is and how it isn't.
We battled on best we could but it was getting so far from what we do normally it seemed painful to everyone who came to support us and all the rockcrew. As we headed into September and after enduring the constant updates and new guidance to the end of September decided enough was enough only to find we would have to close again anyway as things weren't going to plan with infection rates and all that R stuff. I know this sounds mad but it was welcome relief at the time. Our cat herding skills had became expert and how we needed it to go along with plate spinning and juggling so many things never experienced....ever.
We were lucky in a way getting to end of September having not yet gone round the bend to find some added Government funding that was hard fought for by The Music Venue Trust and venues was allocated to us and a simply humbling crowdfunder to bolster the ever shrinking bank balance as the bills still had to be paid with limited income from what we tagged PUB MODE. Still in what was another dark time the crowdfunder gave a glimmer of hope how everyone regarded the club which will stick with us forever.
Another lockdown in October so back to survival mode and got on with what we could as there was no real indications what these new variants had in store or when we could start rocking again.
After quite a....cough.....lengthy period of always being asked and "meaning to do" some club merch, with spare time now abundant again and with the assistance of Promotional Impressions we developed after decades of the asking a range of club merch...I know it's not months sometimes with us but decades. Again thank you to all who purchased hoodies and T's and still wear them with pride as you helped again to keep the wheels of steel turning albeit very slowly behind the scenes.
Winter turned to Spring 2021 and lockdown easing was in the air for some but not yet for us or live music never mind nightclubs but with Jabs of vaccine now hitting the arms knew it wouldn't be too long. Optimism was in the air again.
It still took to July to be able to open the doors once more but this time with some much needed live music to return with at last. Although it was heavily restricted, seated and had to do table service it felt this was the right time to restart things, suck up the inconvenience and heavily reduced capacity in the knowledge that it was the first wee step to getting back to normal as the weeks progressed. Music loving people deprived of what they took for granted returned and thanked us for re-opening. Another very humbling time and certainly the boost we all needed. You don't know how you miss something until it's gone was the feeling and a wee reminder for some who overlooked what we do every week.
In the August of '21 it was confirmed the Nightclub could also fire up once more and after a year and a half since this all began could get back to what we do best.
Live Music with no distancing or real restraints followed up by some rocking upstairs to the wee hours.
Temping fate we also re-started the planned location change of ladies loos we had hoped to do in 2020 in order to improve the layout even more on the live level.
However covid restrictions and dabbling from Scot Gov weren't too far away and by the October 21 Covid passports took the wind from our sails, divided society and caused unwarranted grief for all frontline staff and many of our society too. The confusion caused a wave of questions on what we could and couldn't do for the live events also quite inevitably footfall suffered as the honeymoon seemed over again. It was all I seemed to do for weeks on end dealing with this carry on forced upon us with little or no evidence it would make anyone safer more than we were already doing.
Again we had no option but to battle on and with some truly fantastic events on the live level and steady footfall for the nightclub although still nowhere pre-pandemic (but promising) knew we were getting there despite the very unfair and unworkable covid passports.
Sadly the Covid still wasn't finished with us yet, was it and with a new variant with quite an imposing name OMICRON emerging, panic once again set in and the messaging of old not to go out as we entered what should be the busiest period of December. Boy did that hurt. Just as things were getting there another period of uncertainty and once again another lockdown dressed up this time as protections was upon us along with more twists and turns on support than on a rollercoaster that caused an extended shut down for the live level and nightclub.
So to 2022 and with the majority of society now triple jagged more optimism and that OMICRON wasn't as bad as feared. At the end of January 2022 we were allowed to resume full operations and once again rebuild the shattered confidence we worked so hard to rebuild in 2021. Full steam ahead captain !
As we moved through February and now mid March we go full circle to two years ago to the day me and DC sat at the club looking into space which we did today for old times sake and wonder what the future holds in our 50th year certainly feeling 10 years older never mind two.
Well that's the easy bit it's all set out to the mid point of the year with a packed schedule and some party nights to mark a fantastic moment where a wee club in Bathgate has rocked on for so long through change of venues, some crippling periods and changes - some for the good and some for the bad. Still to have a big chunk of original staff and boardroom behind it all is short of remarkable and again thanks to all the thousands over the last 5 decades who called it their second home.
SO to wrap this wee two year trip........We have done what we could and then some to get to this point.
In a way it's now upto you guys to take us forward.
To be at the wide and varied gigs with local bands to truly international grade musicians all that deserve to be well attended that was so viciously taken away for over 18 months and all yearned to return to.
To be grabbing advance tickets to show you are coming in the weekends ahead instead of causing me more grey/nae hairs waiting to the last gasp, also to keep those superb bands stopping at Bathgate instead of heading past the door to Glasgow or Edinburgh meaning you'll have to travel and pay way more in the future to see them.
Finally and most importantly of all to be out in the club enjoying yourself again dancing and singing like you did before all this started for the months, years and possibly decades to come writing more history and memories as we go.