Poof Doof: The businesses kicking on despite the odds

 

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that gatherings of 100 people were banned amid coronavirus fears, nightclub owners around the country despaired.

Anthony Hocking, the owner of Melbourne's iconic Poof Doof, was one of them.

"It was pretty scary," Mr Hocking told news.com.au.

"Essentially, overnight everyone's gigs stopped.

"Instantly, all these people in the nightlife economy were without any income whatsoever."

With its large phallic-shaped object to the side of the stage and drag shows all year round, Poof Doof has long been a favourite in Melbourne's gay scene.

There's something eerie about the thought of Poof Doof being shut down and silent on a Saturday night.

 

Nightclubs across the country have been forced to shut down.
Nightclubs across the country have been forced to shut down.

Mr Hocking thought so too. He opened the nightclub eight years ago, and the venue has been buzzing every Saturday night since then.

He's kept count - that's exactly 438 Saturday nights, consecutively.

So he decided that the coronavirus wouldn't put a stop to that.

"As soon as the government passed the laws from 100 to less than 10 (people), we had to think pretty quickly on what we were going to do," he said.

"We turned everything online."

Poof Doof now livestreams its Saturday night performances.

Tonight will be their third livestream.

Their show last weekend reached over 32,000 thousand viewers, who all watched it from home.

"Life goes on, in some way, shape or form," Mr Hocking said.

Poof Doof hasn't let coronavirus stop its business.
Poof Doof hasn't let coronavirus stop its business.

"It costs thousands of dollars (to set up the livestream)," Mr Hocking explained.

"I spent it out of my own pocket at first, then I reached out to our sponsors, Redbull, Absolut and Lion."

He's hired five DJs, to play for one hour each starting at 9pm (AEDT) every Saturday.

"There's been quite a few people who have declined to perform because of social isolation."

To maintain social distancing rules, he's also had to make a few other changes.

"The DJs come, do their show and then they leave," he said. "We have an operator too. And that's about it."

They make money from donations as people are watching.

Mr Hocking isn't the only nightclub owner to embrace the new business model.

Just around the corner, another iconic night club, OneSixOne, is also live-streaming it music.

Melbourne's streets won't be completely quiet this Saturday night.

Poof Doof was involved in Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardis Gras festival this year.
Poof Doof was involved in Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardis Gras festival this year.

Travis Mathews is a regular at Poof Doof, and he's been tuning into its live streams since it started.

"As a community where we can't go outside and spend time with our friends, knowing that everyone's watching the same thing at the same time helps," he said.

However, Mr Mathews acknowledged that it was a bizarre turn of events, one that he'd never expected.

"It's a vibe that not one everyone's used to. We've never been able to just turn on Instagram and see a live DJ set in a club we know while not being there so its taking some time to get used to," he said.

"I was apprehensive as to what was happening. I didn't see live streaming clubs happening. I don't think anyone did.

"To be perfectly honest my friends and I laughed at it."

But he ended up putting it on while his friends were chilling and now he's a fan.

However, Mr Mathews does see one glaring issue.

"Unless you know the DJ or the performer or are a fan of their style, then you're probably not going to tune in," he said.

Originally published as The businesses kicking on despite the odds



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