'Boogie alone, together': Online nightclub launches amid coronavirus shut down

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Room2radio founders Charles Waldren, Nicole Beck and Toby Debelak, are launching Sydney's first online club tonight. Photo: Facebook/Room2Radio

A trio of Sydney friends have launched the city’s first online club in response to social distancing measures being used to slow the spread of coronavirus, and it looks like thousands are set to tune in.

Room2Radio is Sydney’s first online night club, encouraging Sydneysiders to ‘boogie alone, together’.

The club is the brainchild of Toby Debelak, Nicole Beck and Charles Waldren, a group of 23-year-olds based in Sydney’s Inner West, and is set to launch on Facebook tonight.

The concept is a live-streamed club experience, complete with DJ sets, lights, atmosphere, chat rooms and even a few familiar characters. 

Party-goers are invited to tune-in, interact and party from the safety of their homes.

“As opposed to just a DJ set live streamed – which a lot of people are doing - we are trying to make it a little more interactive with some humour,” Toby tells Yahoo Lifestyle, admitting the key is in the humour, describing the idea as ‘completely ridiculous’.

Explosion of interest online

The group's Tuesday trial has been viewed by over 14k people. Photo: Facebook/Room2Radio

‘Ridiculous' it may be, but the concept has exploded online.

The group’s Facebook page boasts over 1000 followers just days after launching, and a trial live-stream on Tuesday has been watched 14,000 times.

Videos and promotions ahead of this evening’s debut have prompted a wave of support from online users keen to break up the monotony of self-isolation, or simply staying safe at home.

The group's Facebook page is drawing plenty of positive feedback from around the world. Photo: Facebook/Room2Radio

“This is the best thing I have ever seen,” one woman wrote during Tuesday’s test event. “Awesome idea.”

“THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER,” another agreed, enthusiastically.

“Love it!” another wrote.

Tonight’s launch has just shy of 1000 RSVP’s and thousands more interested in the event, and it’s not hard to see why.

How the online club will work

The event features profiles of ‘staff members’ – a seccie (security guard), a bartender, and a promoter – who will interact over the chatroom to make the experience as authentic as possible, a line-up of popular DJs ready to go, and even drinking games to get the party started.

The club launches at 8 pm tonight. Party-goers can connect through the Facebook page, though it is recommended they create a Twitch.com account and access the live-stream through there.

A bid to keep the culture alive

Sydney is slowing down rapidly as coronavirus prevention measures are implemented. Photo: Getty Images

The group hope the idea brings some levity and responsibility to a tricky social situation.

“There’s lots of doom and gloom at the moment and this is just light [and] fun,” Toby says, adding he was motivated by the slow down of nightlife after officials announced gatherings over 100 people were no longer considered safe. 

Toby says when he saw other DJs and friends rapidly losing work he decided to get creative, and turn home isolation into an opportunity to test drive a brand new way of partying, and connecting.

“[We wanted to] set up this platform to help people who might be struggling and continue to support not just individual DJs but potentially other companies and community radio stations who might have lost a lot of sponsorship,” he says.

Co-founder Charles is a musician who goes by the name Poolroom professionally. He was forced to cancel a planned national tour – his first – this week following the pandemic’s spread in Australia, and other DJs who are set to feature have also had work slow, or dry up completely.

Making isolation social

It’s not just a bid to save the music industry however, the push to keep party-goers home is a huge win for social distancing measures.

As of 10.30 am on Friday, there were 756 confirmed cases in Australia, and a seventh person died from the virus on Friday morning.

It’s a situation people are being urged to take seriously, and Room2radio is adding their voice to that call.

“Our individual actions now have a very real impact on the health and wellbeing of all members of society,” the group’s mission statement reads.

“Social distancing is the most responsible thing one can do to protect others, and unfortunately, going out to bars and clubs greatly increases the risk of transmitting the virus.”

“These are uncharted times, and although it might be weird to party at home in front of your TV, know that potentially, hundreds or thousands of people are doing the same thing.”

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