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July 2, 2020

Drinking while dancing is currently banned in SA venues

“How are we supposed to police dancing? If I see someone moving more than five centimetres left to right, is that dancing?” an exasperated live music venue owner tells CityMag, while another says he’s pulling the plug on operations indefinitely.

  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Main Image: Housing Boom throwing a sweaty and definitely infectious house and disco party at Sugar

It was the Monday just gone that the State Government seemingly gave the green light for nightclubs and standing hospitality venues to start trading.

In their announcement the week prior, they advised that patrons must adhere to the one person per two square metres social distancing requirement. For 1000-capacity premises, or venues in which dancing and drinking is facilitated, there must also be an approved and returned COVID-19 management plan.

CityMag excitedly interviewed party proprietors such as Lion Arts Factory co-owner Craig Lock and Sugar nightclub co-owner Driller Jet Armstrong for a list of what the venues would offer with their return just around the corner.

This good news came to a screeching halt this morning, as a government factsheet published yesterday outlined the “application and approval process” for the COVID management plan is “under development”.

It can take up to two weeks for the plan to be returned once submitted, it says. So, until then, drinking and dancing as a combined activity is banned inside these venues.

An SA Health spokesperson today said businesses can acquire a COVID management plan once they complete the initial COVID safe plan. They haven’t responded to questions about how long it takes for the government to return the plan once submitted.

Craig Lock of Lion Arts says he’s “frustrated” by the government’s handling of these announcements, and says he’s already received an approved COVID safe plan, but hasn’t submitted a management plan as it hasn’t been provided to him.

“None of it makes any sense,” he says.

“We haven’t submitted one because it doesn’t exist, even though they said we could.”

Last week, when Craig was notified the music and entertainment venue Lion Arts could open on Monday, he started booking gigs immediately. The first event – a pub crawl between Lion Arts and the West Oak – kicks off tonight. There are over 30 gigs booked into the future, the last billed for February next year.

Tonight’s event advertises “three stages” with “DJ set times incoming”. He has no idea what will happen tonight, as he has chosen to facilitate booze over dance moves.

But he’s not sure how to police dancing.

“If I see someone moving more than five centimetres left to right is that dancing? What is dancing?” he says.

Above: Lion Arts Factory; Right: Craig Lock


Craig is concerned about the future of events for his venue.

“They told us we could open, so we worked really hard to create all these events and all these things that were going to adhere to all the rules that they had stipulated were going to exist,” Craig says.

“Now that’s completely backflipped and now they’re (the State Government) going to create some other framework that they’re going to present to us. We’ve already got stuff booked, going forward now. And what? I might have to change that.

“We started selling tickets to things. ‘You can only have 15 people on the dancefloor.’ ‘Oh I guess those 200 tickets I’ve sold that event, three weeks from now – what am I supposed to do with that now? Refund half of them or…?’”

Craig was under the impression that, like the COVID safe plan, the management plan would be returned within a couple of days. If he knew it would take two to four weeks, he would have not opened, he says.

Hindley Street venues Rocketbar Rooftop and Mr Kims have publicly stated they will not open this weekend, and will keep their doors shut until further capacity restrictions ease.

“This in our view after 17 years trading is the way that we can guarantee the atmosphere & quality that you have become accustomed to over the years,” the venues’ statement says

“More information on when the club will open will be announced soon when we have more information from the SA Government.”

Above: Sugar’s façade with a poster promoting gigs from March just passed; Right: Driller Jet Armstrong with his super cute owl (!!!)


Sugar nightclub planned to open next Friday, but Driller says with drinking and dancing off the table, this has been canned. He told CityMag he’ll open the Rundle Street live music venue once restrictions totally ease, but for now doors will remain shut as he’s frustrated by the logic of the South Australian government.

“What’s the difference between standing at a bar with a drink in your hand and dancing with a drink in your hand? Providing you 1.5 metre distance, what’s the problem? What’s the difference? I don’t get it.”

“This disrupts everything. Everybody else has actually put in a COVID safe plan, which I’ve done, but we have to submit a COVID management plan on top of that.

“No one has received it [the management plan] because they [the government] haven’t even worked out what info they’re going to ask.

“It’s confusing and it’s economically damaging. And to be truthful, mentally, it’s just doing my head in.”

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