Will Lagos see ‘Detty December’ events in 2020? [Pulse Report]

On November 30, 2020, Music Business Worldwide reported that event giant, Live Nation has suffered a $7 billion loss.

The state of 2020 ‘Detty December’ events in Lagos. [Pulse Nigeria]

It has ravaged global economy, led to loss of employment and opportunity, restricted movement and claimed endless lives. In entertainment, many things have been shelved as that part of the world continues to reel from the effects of COVID-19. Releases have been shelved and conversations have largely remained on virtual platforms.

But to the issue at hand, live events and performances have been forced to broadcast via virtual means while Live event companies also continue to take massive hits. On November 30, 2020, Music Business Worldwide reported that event giant, Live Nation has suffered a $7 billion loss to COVID-19 and will further slash costs by $900m across the course of 2020.

With it, artists have seen events, their major source of income remain in limbo. The spread of the unpredictable COVID-19 is a feared phenomenon of the modern world and live events heighten the tendency to spread the coronavirus even further.

Many companies including Pfizer might have found a vaccine with the right amount of protein for antibodies, but the rate of its production and circulation remains unknown.

Just like in football, if governments open arenas up for events, attendees are unlikely to follow anti-COVID-19 precautions because live music ignites passion and a need to express that passion. In those moments, laws of social distancing and limited contact will definitely be eroded.

In Nigeria, the government already faces an uphill battle to convince a large pool of cynical Nigerians about the deadly nature of COVID-19. That problem now affects the annual ocean of festivities that Nigerian youths have tagged, ‘Detty December.’ In previous years, December 1 would have come with numerous pieces on a ‘Guide to Detty December Events.’

But this year, the silence from the uncertainty has been deafening because nobody knows the status of shows. However, young people are still hopeful.

As Pulse Nigeria’s Online Editor, Nurudeen Shotayo puts it, “With all that has happened this year with the lockdown, EndSARS and the many trying times, Nigerian youths need this detty December to unwind. It’s been a crazy year, but COVID is still a problem [shrugs].

Additionally, the ‘Detty December’ culture in Lagos is heavily fuelled by its IJGB contingent who come in from the US, the UK, Canada and mainstream Europe. This year, a lot of them are unlikely to come home.

Ayinke, a 21-year-old Masters degree student tells Pulse Nigeria that, “I don’t think I want to come home this year and my parents agree with that. There is no assurance of a good time and I have to self-isolate for seven days after I land. If I land on the 20th, I would miss a large part of the festivities and it doesn’t make any sense to me.

“A lot of my friends are also of the opinion that if you would have COVID, e better make you get am for place where healthcare dey… [laughs hard]. At this point, it doesn’t even matter that the health workers here are overwhelmed, make I just dey chill for here, thank you [laughs].”

Already, House On The Rock has moved for a virtual alternative to Africa’s largest gospel music splash, Experience. The 15th edition of the event which usually holds at Tafawa Balewa Square will not be live this year. In the same vein, a lot of award shows are considering a move similar to BET’s well-crafted virtual award shows.

But then as much as virtual events are an attractive alternative, they are not as experiential as live events. They save costs, but virtual events might be too novel for brands who will be reluctant to put their money into events with relatively lower visibility. In consequence, revenue streams for show promoters will also be limited.

The problems are not limited to profits though. After what happened during EndSARS protests and how the youth turned on an entitled government filled with men with the infamous ‘Nigerian father complex,’ show promoters are wary of giving the government any ground to be vindictive. In fact, all the show promoters who spoke with Pulse Nigeria refused to be named.

In November 2020, one of those show promoters tells Pulse Nigeria that, “A lot of show promotion companies stood with the youth during EndSARS protests and a lot of celebrities vocally criticized the government during those protests. With how things are in Nigeria and how we’ve seen the government treat vocal critics, nobody wants to be a scapegoat for the government so we are all observing.”

He continues, “If you throw an event, there is no way COVID-19 prevention rules won’t be flouted and the government knows that. All they simply need to do is gather evidence and punish you with it…

Another show promoter laughed and simply says, “We would like to throw shows, but nobody really knows what’s going on at the moment. Event centres are open to the idea of shows, but they want to express ascent from the government to prevent liabilities. It’s a crazy world out here now, my brother [laughs].

Pulse Nigeria also chatted with an employee of the Ministry of Health who also refuses to be named.

The person says, “I don’t know anything at this time. But it’s only reasonable that the possibility remains till the government expressly bans these events. It will also be understandable if the government bans December events which are famed for being packed with young men and women bustling with youthful energy to party and enjoy, you know.

“I don’t think the fear of a witch-hunt is fair because clubs and restaurants have been operating in Lagos. Some of these clubs and restaurants have had to follow strict COVID-19 precautions. I would imagine that show promoters and event centres will be allowed to hold their events if they adhere to precautions like social distancing, temperature checks, face masks... sanitizers and all that.

“Show promoters then have to decide if they want to throw shows with limited attendance because it will ultimately come down to that. COVID-19 spreads more in enclosed spaces.”

Earlier on December 1, 2020, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, National Coordinator of the body, Sani Aliyu, Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire and Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu acted as regards fears that COVID-19 cases have surpassed 63 million in the world.

As reported by the BBC, here are the rules laid down by the task force;

  • All Nigerians abroad should remain abroad at this time and if they will come home, they must strictly adhere to international travel protocols.
  • Non-essential travelling within Nigeria should be stopped.
  • Avoid Christmas carols
  • Avoid large gatherings
  • Use your face masks.
  • Wash hands regularly
  • Maintain social distancing
  • And obey all COVID-19 rules

Interestingly, the government has still not placed an embargo on events. In the same vein, it's not expressly banned international flights. More importantly, the direction is from the federal level. Those rules aren't new as well.

A lot of show promoters lose tons of money to events. The last promoter that Pulse Nigeria chatted with simply stated that he was not considering any shows. His argument was, “If we are losing money in packed arenas, how much more money would we lose in socially distanced spaces? I also don’t like virtual events - at least not yet.”

Pulse Nigeria is simply going to argue that there will be a few shows in December while a few others will broadcast pre-recorded content via virtual means. In the meantime, shout-out to the impending alternative… Viva house parties.

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