While bars and nightclubs are known mostly for their loud, crowded, alcohol-fuelled atmospheres, one Vancouver-based clinical counsellor says nightlife is also an important component of development for many young people who have gone without it for months due to COVID-19.
Getting back to the bars and clubs after months of being cooped up is beneficial to those young people who have had social interactions severed at a time in their life when developing friendships and independence are important, said counsellor Nina Sheere, speaking about nightclubs Friday on CBC's The Early Edition.
On July 1, B.C. health officials green-lit the reopening of bars, clubs and casinos and the return of normal liquor service hours as the province moved into Step 3 of a four-step reopening plan. Socializing between tables and dancing are not yet permitted, but nightlife venues are now open to the public and people can sip cocktails in the clubs once again.
"[Nightlife is] really representative of the transitional period in life where you're moving into adulthood," Sheere said.
In Western culture in particular, going clubbing is seen as a marker of moving onto that next chapter in life, she said.
"What's going on kind of developmentally is also that the friends are becoming more and more important and playing a bigger role while the family ties loosen up a little bit. And that's normal and it's meant to be happening," said Sheere.
She said nightlife can play an important role for this demographic as they transition typically out of high school and move toward adult independence.
Tanysha Klassen, former chair of the B.C. Federation of Students, says she wasn't much of a nightclub frequenter before the pandemic, but noticed herself missing the scene a lot this past year.
She said even for people who don't dance, some semblance of normal is being welcomed by her peers — many of whom worked front-line jobs and missed out on rites of passage like graduation ceremonies or their first legal drink.
Missing out and singled out
Klassen said not only have her peers missed out, many were upset to be singled out by Premier John Horgan who this spring asked young people not to "blow this for the rest of us," while referring to spreading the virus.
"Young people were the people that were still expected to go into work. They didn't have the luxury of working from home. They had to go in and be close to their peers in restaurants or food stores and things like that. So they were just trying to, you know, do their jobs," said Klassen.
She said some young people tried hard to prove Horgan wrong, which cut them off further from social contact.
"We're really trying to overcompensate, which then, you know, made the pandemic isolation and all of that a lot worse," she said.
Sheere says a lot of her young clients have been living with their families longer than they had planned and have not been able to pursue their plans and dreams.
"Not being able to go out and connect with peers, even in their local communities has just been kind of the final straw that for a lot of them has been really, really difficult," she said.