Over-excited DJs, thunderous music, and youngsters get ready for a night out. This nightclub in Wuhan, the Chinese city considered the cradle of the COVID-19 pandemic, now symbolizes the freedom regained while the rest of the world is locked up and confined.
A year after being quarantined on January 23, 2020, this city of 11 million inhabitants, where the first cases of covid-19 arose, has ceased to be the ghostly city that then astonished the rest of the world. And while much of the planet imposes curfews, lockdowns and social distancing, in Wuhan nightlife is at its peak.
To enter the « Super Monkey », the immense nightclub in the center of the city, it is not necessary to be on a VIP list and there are no clothing requirements. But the mask is mandatory and the guards at the entrance control the temperature of the customers: above 37.3 degrees, they are not admitted.
Inside, there is a deafening atmosphere, with lasers and gases, while the young people, mostly in their 20s, release all their energy on the dance floor. Others are mere spectators, happy to gather around a drink, after the grim quarantine of a year ago, when what was then a mysterious virus appeared.
« I have been locked up for two or three months. The country has coped well with the epidemic, now I can go out with absolute peace of mind, » says a client, in his 30s who says his name is Xu.
In this environment, it has little to do with the austerity officially advocated by the communist regime. Chen Qiang, a young man in his 20s, is pleased that China has practically controlled the epidemic in its territory, and this despite the outbreaks that have emerged in recent days.
« The Chinese government is good. The Chinese government does everything for its people and the people are supreme. It is different from foreign countries, » he says.
The Chinese media cover in detail the difficulties of Western countries in the face of the pandemic, which contrasts with the return to normality in China. They see in this unequivocal proof of the superiority of the Chinese authoritarian model. Authority, however, is not respected everywhere.
At Super Monkey, Although the mask is mandatory, it is not always worn by customers, who do not hesitate to light a cigarette. No rule about social distance has been prescribed. Chen qiang He acknowledges, however, that the pandemic has changed things.
In nightclubs « there are fewer people than before the pandemic » he notes, and ensures that in general terms people « go out less and spend less. »
The very strict protocol applied in some places does not help either: limited clientele, mandatory reservation and presentation of an application with a green QR code, synonymous with good health, although it is not always enough to enter.
Thus, several journalists from the agency . they could not enter the club « Imhan » Because his health code indicated an origin in Beijing, where a source of contagion of the English variant of covid-19 was discovered in the southern area of the Chinese capital.
Wuhan was cut off from the world for 76 days between January and April. After a massive detection campaign in the spring, normal life gradually regained its course.
Last summer, images of a mega-party in a crowded water park generated surprise and misunderstanding in part of Internet users from the rest of the world, where the coronavirus continues to cause many victims.