WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As the world inches closer to normalcy, more and more restrictions are being lifted in Wichita, and the nightlife is making a comeback.
KSN News talked to a DJ, an event promoter, and club owner who said business came to a halt when the pandemic hit last year forcing them to cancel shows and close shop.
DJ3 said the pandemic killed everything for him last year. Even though he calls 2020 a loss, he’s looking to bring entertainment back to Wichita.
With bars and clubs operating at max capacity and normal business hours, he said it’s a breath of fresh air to see the city breathing again.
“Everybody was trapped in the house, couldn’t leave, couldn’t see their friends,” said DJ3. “Now everybody’s back outside, and I’m going to give them something to come back outside for.”
That starts with a couple of events he’s throwing this weekend. He’s bringing some big names in the entertainment industry to Wichita. He’s throwing a birthday party for Rock Island Live owner Luis Lopez Saturday night with rappers Prince Rick and Treal Lee scheduled to perform.
Lopez is excited to finally celebrate his birthday in a big way. He and DJ3 had the event planned last year but COVID had other plans. He said just like everyone else in the nightlife industry the bar was hit hard by the pandemic.
Rock Island lost revenue when it was lights out for non-essential businesses and never fully recovered when COVID restrictions slowly eased. Closing at midnight and operating with fifty customers when they first reopened didn’t help either.
Lopez said he laid off all 25 members of his security staff during the shutdown but was grateful bartenders and servers found work with their neighbor Emerson Biggins.
Lopez said no capacity limitations and no mask mandates are key to business picking back up. He’s since brought back twelve of his security guards and most of his bartending and serving staff.
“We’re really happy,” Lopez said. “We’re really excited to see people. We’re really excited to get back to normal. That’s what the nightlife means—going out with your friends and enjoying life and having a good time.”
DJ3 said doing promotion events like these are always a gamble—even without COVID running rampant. He said Wichita is a walk-up market and people like to wait until they’re at the door to purchase their tickets instead of buying them in advance. Given the risk, he said he still wants to focus on bringing entertainment to Wichita.
Lopez said eighty percent of his staff at Rock Island are vaccinated and said his staff will still wear masks. He and DJ3 strongly suggest customers wear theirs as well.