The DJs are boosted, the sound system spits out the decibels and the revelers are preparing for a sleepless night: the youth of Wuhan is savoring their new-found freedom, when the rest of the world is confined.
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A year after its quarantine on January 23, 2020, the metropolis of 11 million inhabitants, the first to be struck by the new coronavirus, is no longer the ghost town whose images had stunned the rest of the world.
And while much of the planet enforces curfews and distancing, nightlife is in full swing in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic.
To enter the “Super Monkey” (in French “Super Singe”), a huge nightclub in the city center, you do not need to be on the VIP list and no proper attire is required. But the mask remains compulsory and the security guards at the entrance monitor the temperature of the customers: above 37.3 degrees, they are turned away.
Inside the establishment, two gigantic false monkeys ready to pounce on the track dominate the dancers, in a deafening techno atmosphere, with laser effects of all kinds.
On the ceiling, multicolored light triangles flash the words “Supre Monkey”, with a shell for the word “super”. Periodically, smoke cannons come into action.
In a highly charged atmosphere, the revelers – many and mostly in their twenties – let loose on the track. Several dancers have a blast with bright bunny ears for their headbands.
Others are simple spectators, happy to meet over a drink, after a grueling quarantine a year ago when what was then a mysterious virus appeared.
“I was locked up for two or three months […] the country is managing the epidemic very well, I can go out in peace ”now, a thirtysomething boy named Xu told AFP.
In this atmosphere that has nothing to do with the austerity officially preached by the communist regime, Chen Qiang, a boy in his twenties, is pleased that China has practically brought the epidemic under control on its soil , despite localized outbreaks in recent days.
“The Chinese government is good. The Chinese government is doing everything for its people and the people are supreme. It’s different from foreign countries, ”he understands.
Chinese media are extensively extolling the plight of the epidemic in Western countries, which contrasts with the return to normal in China itself. They readily see in it the mark of a superiority of the Chinese authoritarian model.
Pekingese turned back
Authority is however not respected everywhere.
At the Super Monkey, if the mask is compulsory, it is not worn at all times by customers who do not hesitate to light a cigarette. No rule of distance is recommended.
And Chen Qiang must recognize that the pandemic has made a difference.
In a club, “there are fewer people than before the epidemic”, he notes, believing that people in general “go out less and spend less”.
The very strict health protocol applied by some establishments does not help: limited clientele, reservation required and presentation of a tracking app with a green code, synonymous with good health … but not always a pass.
Several AFP journalists were thus refused entry to the “Imhan” club because their health code indicated an origin in Beijing, where a source of contagion with the English variant of Covid-19 was discovered, in the southern suburbs of Chinese capital.
Wuhan was cut off from the world for 76 days last year between January and April. After a massive screening campaign in the spring, normal life was able to resume gradually.
Last summer, the images of a mega-party in a crowded water park had aroused the misunderstanding or the astonishment of some Internet users in the rest of the world, where the coronavirus continues to claim many victims.