Miami Heat’s DJ Irie Is Ready to Adapt to a New Way of (Night)Life
The reality of the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly sunk in now. The first couple of weeks felt like a bad dream. Now it’s Groundhog Day every day.
It was a little weird for me when things started to evaporate. I was taping a show with Jamie Foxx in L.A. called Beat Shazam. We’re doing the live audience, the whole thing, and finished that show on March 5. While I was there taping the show, I started getting cancellation emails — CNN, T-Mobile — all my corporate events began to cancel.
We finished shooting the show on a Thursday, and Jamie and my close friend Dave Brown had a birthday party that Friday. But I was going to play at LIV in Miami that Friday. I was going to call the club and say, “Hey, listen, let me rain check this date. I’m going to stay in L.A. and play this party for my boys.” In my mind, I was going to surprise him. When the cancellations started rolling I said, “You know what, I’m going to get my ass down to Miami and do this job.” I sent Dave a birthday card instead.
I played the Miami show Friday, then got on a plane and went to the Bahamas for a Spring Break show that Monday, March 9. While I was there, I was only hearing we should get home and cut the trip short. We didn’t know what was happening. You could sense that people were starting to get a little more aware of what was out there, but we were also in the Bahamas, so we were back and forth. You should relax. No, you shouldn’t relax. You’re safer here. No, you should get the hell out of here. I played that show on Monday and got right on the plane Tuesday to get back to Miami.
Do we see a world where people are “partying responsibly,” where we’ll all put gas masks on and wear protective suits? But where proximity is an issue, is that the new reality?
That’s when the wave of cancellations started coming in from the clubs. I did the last Friday night at LIV Nightclub. Even when we had H1N1, we had MERS, we had Ebola, never had everything shut down like this. Quarantined? I’ve never in my 44 years of life experienced that. I didn’t think that could happen.
I can see things coming back to pre-Covid levels. It’ll take some time, but I can see it getting back. I wish I could crack the code right now where you can safely deliver the same kind of nightlife experience. I don’t see it right now. But think about it, are we going to sit here and say right now that it’s a real possibility that things like “nightlife” no longer exist because it’s too dangerous?
Do we see a world where people are “partying responsibly,” where we all put gas masks on and wear protective suits? Where proximity is an issue, is that the new reality? Do we want to be in surroundings so bad that we would succumb to that? We don’t have any answers whatsoever, but these things have been going through my head about post-Covid reality.
I know that there’s still a huge cross section of people who will want to get back out there to engage in nightlife and sporting events. But the reality is if you were to implement the social distancing guidelines as they are now into the business model, then the business model will cease to exist. It’s unsustainable. There’s no way you can operate a nightclub under strict social distancing guidelines. It’s just impossible.
How do you have a vibe? It’s counter to everything that makes it successful, which is why it sucks. We’re among the first to get shut down, and we’ll be among the last to open up — if and when — so it’s tough.
I hope and pray for myself, but also for a lot of dear friends and associates in this business who I know are in a tough position. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hurting like everybody else, but I have a roof over my head. I’m not worried about where my next meal will come from, and I’m not concerned about being able to take care of my family. Thank God for that.
When you dedicate so much of your life and excel in this particular lane, you don’t just flip a switch and say, “Okay, well, I can’t make a living this way anymore. I’ll just pull the switch, and I’ll do this now and earn the same income.” That’s not realistic either. It takes time to build up a skill, and that’s happening for a lot of people now. There’s so much to figure out.
Instagram Live parties have made a great connection with many people who would’ve never usually connected in that kind of a forum. You have this widely adopted technology, and everybody’s still looking for that release. I loved how people approached it in a more lighthearted way, like “buying” people drinks. IG folks said, “Yo, come to my section. Come to my table.” Or, “Yo, I’m headed to Club This or Club That. Want to pull up with me? I’ll send you the invite. And if you want we can go in together.” We’re letting our imagination run wild, and everyone is validated because everyone’s in on it as well. So you feel you’ve created your own reality. You have that sense of community in terms of connection. I think it’s absolutely fantastic.
As told to Jada Gomez.