In the second of our ‘My City’ series looking at how nightlife has changed during the pandemic in cities around the world, the Up.co’s founder and CEO Hugo Tilmouth shares his experiences on nightlife in his home city of London.
The Up.co’s mission is to build a collection of products that improve venue experiences. It recently brought its three market leading products under one unified brand and goal, ‘to upgrade the real world’. With ChargedUp, it enables everyone to stay connected as Europe’s largest phone charging network, CleanedUp keeps you safe with its hand sanitiser dispensers for venues, and ServedUp is set to revolutionise the order to table process as a new contact-free way for customers to order and pay.
Before the pandemic, being the outgoing person that I am, and being like most other Londoners, I was keen to try out every bar, club and restaurant in the city. This ended up becoming more of a box-ticking exercise, and now looking back I can see that we took for granted what the city had to offer.
What I particularly miss is the spontaneity of a night out. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gone to the pub, saying the famous last words “I’ll just have one”, and ended up being rudely awoken by somebody official in a high-vis jacket at 4am, having sleepily ridden the tube all the way to High Barnet – the very last stop on the Northern Line.
Not having an evening plan meant not wearing the blinkers that restricted your sense of adventure. If you focus too much on the evening’s itinerary, you might miss the glistening gem of an independent watering hole you catch out of the corner of your eye down a cobbled street in Soho.
But my favourite thing about a good old British night out was not a part of the night out at all – it was going out for a proper breakfast the next morning. It’s the forensic analysis of the menu through sleep-deprived eyes only to order the usual: avocado and poached egg on toast, and how everything, for some reason, is unbelievably hilarious the day after a big night.
All of these things I miss, but the current situation has allowed me to take stock of what’s so great about our city – both the nightlife that I miss and the experiences it has actually allowed us to appreciate.
With curfews cutting socialising short and everyone taking note of how many steps they’ve done that day, the post-COVID me would recommend walking through the city on a quiet early evening. In a city so rushed, where everyone rides the hamster wheel like it’s an Olympic sport, taking a stroll has offered breathing space where us city folk can look up and appreciate how stunning our capital is.
Some virtual innovations have also offered us new ways of communicating and enjoying an evening, not least Zoom. It has revolutionised the way the whole world communicates professionally and personally – whether it is work conferences, yoga, baking classes, quiz nights or even dating. You don’t even have to be in the same room as a date who is boring you to tears!
Having said that – I hope the future doesn’t exist on Zoom. It has let us forget the days of house parties in flats that are too small, queuing for a drink at the bar, bumping into people you’d rather not or forking out a mortgage for a taxi; and yet these parties are like a never-ending happy hour. They are the best times you can have and I can’t wait to get back to them.
The first place I want to visit once we emerge into normality is Paris. Everyone loves to hate the Netflix series Emily In Paris at the moment, but it’s the place everyone is talking about, right?