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Suffolk nightclubs reopen this weekend after enduring almost 18 months of closures




Nightclubs across Suffolk are looking for a revival of fortunes as customers make their long-awaited return to the county's night life hotspots.

Establishments in Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, and Ipswich join those across the county in opening their doors after an extremely testing 18 months.

Ben James, the owner of Ark in Newmarket's High Street said he was planning a big reopening tomorrow. "Were hopeful that we'll have a normal level of trade resume, as we have all the safety precautions in place now," he said.

Julian Cunnington, who has owned Unique nightclub in Sun Lane for 12 years, said his nightclub had also received minimal financial support during the pandemic. Picture: Mark Westley
Julian Cunnington, who has owned Unique nightclub in Sun Lane for 12 years, said his nightclub had also received minimal financial support during the pandemic. Picture: Mark Westley

Until Monday nightclubs had not been able to re-open at all, with many having to quickly change to bars, and had been reliant on cash injections from the Government. But, Mr James said, their support had not gone far enough.

“I know some other businesses in the town received hundreds of thousands of pounds and I had real concerns about the club’s future at one point," he said.

"But, we’re looking forward to having our customers back and we’re just relieved not to be one of the businesses that have gone under.”

Nightclubs in Suffolk are finally reopening after a very difficult 18 months. Picture: Mark Westley
Nightclubs in Suffolk are finally reopening after a very difficult 18 months. Picture: Mark Westley

In Ipswich Leyla Edwards, the owner of The Club, in Cornhill, said it was a struggle for nightclubs to survive the lockdown, and said she was excited to be opening for the first club night later tonight.

"We have had a bit of support but nowhere near enough to pay the bills and fully support us," she said.

While her club will not be opening with its full capacity of 350, some 250 people will be welcomed into the club and there will be enough room for around 60 people to have table service if they wanted it, she said.

The booths are waiting: Nightclubs are preparing for their first weekend after Government ordered closures kept ravers away for more than a year. Picture: Mark Westley
The booths are waiting: Nightclubs are preparing for their first weekend after Government ordered closures kept ravers away for more than a year. Picture: Mark Westley

The Club had been operating as a bar, with tables and chairs where the dance floor is to allow customers to come in under the rules, but in preparation for tonight the seating was removed.

"It feels really weird seeing the dance floor without furniture on it now," she said, and added she couldn't wait to welcome people into the club.

Back in Newmarket Julian Cunnington, who has owned Unique nightclub in Sun Lane for 12 years, said his nightclub had also received minimal financial support during the pandemic and its future had seemed uncertain during many months of intermittent lockdowns.

"We were shut for 16 months and had very little support from the government," he said.

“It’s been such a hard time for the industry and it was a real struggle, but our team has really pulled together.”

“It will be great to see the familiar faces of our customers from this Friday and everyone back at Unique and enjoying themselves."

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