Where does virtual clubbing go from here?

Digital experiences exploded throughout the global pandemic. As physical events are reintroduced in many countries, we talk to the people behind virtual nightclub Club Qu about drawing inspiration from gaming and why digital events won’t disappear

After a long wait, the return of nightlife as we once knew it is finally on the horizon in the UK, joining countries including China and Australia where clubs have already reopened their doors. Though somewhat ironically, it comes just as virtual events and platforms are beginning to iron out teething problems and think more creatively about what they can and should be.

While plenty of brands and organisations did a ‘lift and shift’ job at the start of the pandemic, one platform that came out of the blocks early with ambitious ideas is Club Qu (formerly known as Club Quarantäne), run by Ryan Miller, Claudio Banti and Carlo Luis Ruben Schenk. All three are embedded in the electronic music scene, having worked across artist and label management and event production.

As many countries headed into lockdowns last year, the trio sensed what this would do to nightlife and the people who rely on it for discovering music and making connections with other people. So they banded together to get a virtual experience up and running as quickly as possible, drawing on their network of creatives and friends to find everyone from creative directors to designers to technologists.

Launched almost exactly a year ago, the first event – a 36-hour virtual rave held across a weekend – was turned around in a matter of weeks. Since then, Club Qu has launched more marathon online parties in the spirit of all-weekenders, held a rave set in ‘deep space’, and created a virtual environment exploring queer expression, with real life dancers translated into digital beings using motion capture.

Top and above: Club Qu’s event with CTM Festival was initiated by IOR50 Studio’s Sam Aldridge, presenting a queer motion capture archive within the virtual club’s space