NIGHTCLUBS will make ‘big losses’ over the bank holiday weekend owing to Jersey’s Good Friday ‘no dancing’ rule, a venue owner has said, as hospitality leaders call for a wider review of the Island’s ‘archaic’ licensing law.
Nightclubs are banned from playing music or allowing people to dance on two days of the year, Good Friday and Christmas Day, under Jersey’s 1974 licensing legislation.
And cinemas, theatres and ‘any other place of entertainment’ must also close at midnight on Thursday (Maundy Thursday to Christians).
Randalls managing director Gavin Reid said Chambers – which would normally open until 1am – had to close at midnight and none of the Island’s nightclubs would be open tonight.
He said: ‘Obviously it has an impact on the night-time economy. I respect the fact that it goes back to the religious holiday, but it does need review. It needs broader consideration. Times have changed, attitudes have changed.’
He added that while it was only once a year: ‘It does send out mixed messages to our demographic and inconsistencies about our businesses and our opening times. Unless you already know about it, we are having to advise customers about the hours.’
Mr Reid has been calling for ministers to review the Island’s alcohol licensing laws for 15 years.
He said: ‘It is all part of this wider issue that businesses are operating under an archaic and old-fashioned law which needs to be brought in line with modern practices.’
Jersey Hospitality Association’s co-chief executive Marcus Calvani said it was ‘very urgent’ that the Island had more ‘fit-for-purpose’ legislation.
Last year, Vanguard DnB was forced to cancel a dance event at a pub in St John with a UK-based DJ. The organiser launched a petition to get the law changed, but it did not receive the 1,000 signatures required for debate in the States.
At the time, he said ‘the younger generation weren’t aware of [the law] and were bemused by this’.
Johnny Young, the manager of Havana nightclub, said his business would close on Thursday and Friday night because of the law.
‘I do believe it should be changed. It’s hard to put a finger on how much we would lose, but it’s a big loss. We are losing two nights.’
He added that the law also applied to Christmas Day, which meant closing at midnight on Christmas Eve: ‘It is a big effect on two bank holiday weekends of the year.’
‘Hotels and restaurants can stay open until 1.30am and nobody enforces if they are playing music and dancing, but we lose out, we have to close.’
Mr Young said he campaigned to scrap the ‘no dancing’ law on Sunday in the 1990s. The law was amended to apply to only Good Friday and Christmas Day.
But now he said ‘they should scrap that law altogether. It is not against the law to dance.’
Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel has said he hopes an upcoming review of the licensing law would help to minimise red tape within the hospitality industry and bring ‘a sense of life and buzz’ back to St Helier. But he does not expect any changes to the legislation this year.
He previously said: ‘St Helier is where Islanders used to party the most, and it is an important part of the way that parish looks and feels, and having a thriving hospitality sector is key.’
Jersey is an outlier in still following the ‘no dancing’ tradition. Guernsey and Alderney, along with France and the UK, have already changed their laws and have allowed bars and nightclubs to open on Good Friday.