On a typical Friday night in St Andrews, popular venues such as the Union and the Vic should be absolutely rammed with students dancing (and drinking) away the cares of their week. However, in the age of social distancing and the prolonged closure of venues across the UK, students are continuing to miss out on their favourite events, which help to give our university an extra sense of community. In answer to this, committees are beginning to move some of their events online.
Once a month, the Don’t Walk Charity Fashion Show hosts a club night at the Vic, tickets for which typically sell out a good few days before. With the return of nights like this currently feeling a long way off, Don’t Walk have begun to host music streams online, which are streamed through Facebook, in order to bring music into people’s homes “to brighten their day, remind them of St Andrews, and to get them dancing” in a time when many students may feel socially isolated, as Ms DeLaMater told us. The first of these online events, DW & Friends, streamed last Friday, with seven student DJs participating, some of whom will have been well-known to Vic frequenters, alongside some new DJs, enabling more student DJs to demonstrate their skills, even if traditional venues are currently closed. The event featured a variety of sounds, including house, disco and techno in order to engage people of varied music tastes.
Although Don’t Walk’s desire to unite a student body in their enjoyment of an event is a major priority, the committee has not forgotten its charitable status. Throughout the online stream there was an option to donate directly to Storehouse St Andrews, the Fife branch of the Storehouse food bank charity, and the justgiving page has already raised £660. Ms DeLaMater explained that the committee chose this charity in particular because of “the increased food insecurity brought on by the pandemic and the branch’s significant impact in our university town.”*
The question remains as to for how long Don’t Walk’s online events continue to run. The committee has stated that DW & Friends will be an ongoing project over the summer, further aiming to “continue to provide music all year round for our community, even if that means providing it online through alternative platforms,” though it is as yet uncertain as to whether it will have to fully take the place of the popular Vic nights for the majority of next year.
Even though we all long for the return of our beloved clubs and pubs, it is surely a testament to the initiative of St Andrews students that recognisable events are able to go ahead, even if it is on an online format.
*NB: For any students remaining in St Andrews who are interested in further helping Storehouse, Storehouse is looking for donations of non-perishable food, household items and toiletries, and you can find out how to donate these here https://www.storehousestandrews.com/where-to-donate.