If it’s been a long time since you rock and rolled, you now have some places to let loose.
Oddity Bar, Wilmington’s lone remaining rock club following the closure of 1984 two weeks ago, re-opened Wednesday night.
But there was a major change: no live music since it’s a small bar and social distancing is a must. If you wanna rock, you have to use the jukebox.
“And we recommend you play it (using the app) on your phone,” says co-owner Pat McCutcheon, whose bar at 500 Greenhill Ave. had been shuttered for four months due to the state shutdown in response to COVID-19.
If you want the true rock club experience, you’ll have to head north a few miles to the bigger Bar XIII (1706 Philadelphia Pike, Holy Oak) where they have been hosting everything from heavy metal and comedy shows to “dirty, sexy” bingo nights and karaoke.
With a limited capacity of 82 patrons, Bar XIII owner Matthew Jester has put in place an array of precautions since his doors are now open Monday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.
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Patrons must stay seated. They must wear masks when arriving, leaving or going to the restroom. And they all must have their temperature checked before entering, an extra step not taken by many bars that have reopened. That was just added recently.
He says he decided on the temperature check to take every precaution possible, allowing the club to host live events as safely as they can.
“We did it because we are pushing the envelope a little bit in terms of people’s comfort. We’re encouraging them to come back out in a more aggressive way and that requires a little bit more safety and peace of mind,” he said. “I don’t want to get anyone sick and it’s quick and easy.”
And, yes, he already has turned away people running fevers.
“Most people are very understanding and, honestly, the people who aren’t, we probably don’t want them in the bar drinking and getting belligerent anyway,” added Jester, who opened the bar 5½ years ago at the former home of Mojo 13.
Since re-opening he had dropped cover charges for shows, which will come back for the “Friday Night Fury” heavy metal show Friday, July 17 when three acts led by Philadelphia hard rockers Saint Rickets take the stage. It costs $6.
Burlesque shows and dance parties have not returned, but all other regular events have returned in limited capacity.
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He says being open the past 1½ months has been exhausting. Since staffers need to ferry drinks to tables and also be at the entrance, he says they have been doing “five to six times the amount of work for a fifth of the amount of customers.”
In the past, he could have one employee working at the club on a slow night. Now even those evenings need three to four employees. After each week, he and his team meets to regroup and decide how to press forward.
Over at Oddity Bar, McCutcheon says he drew a crowd that’s normal Wednesdays for his first night back. Due to the size of the bar, he decided that live music will just have to wait — even if bands are calling to play.
The stage will remain empty, surrounded by fewer tables than patrons are used to, to ensure spacing. They will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
“People are trying to get booked, but I just don’t want the whole state to get shut down again,” he said. “There’s just not enough room for us to it where we’re comfortable yet.”
Got a tip? Contact Ryan Cormier of The News Journal at [email protected] or (302) 324-2863. Follow him on Facebook (@ryancormier), Twitter (@ryancormier) and Instagram (@ryancormier).