One woman waved purple burlesque feather fans while dozens cheered with beers and some sang Karaoke in the streets for one last gasp of revelry in London’s partyland before the capital went into the strictest level of COVID restrictions.
For much of 2020, the pubs of London’s West End and the hedonistic nightclubs of Shoreditch have lain silent – devoid of the fun that has, over the centuries, attracted drunken poets, louche musicians and the lonely seeking a liaison.
As tougher restrictions loomed at the stroke of midnight, a few hundred revellers brushed away the COVID-19 doom and gloom in Soho by partying on the streets, mostly without masks.
One woman, dressed in white shorts on a December night, waved purple feather fans while another flapped giant white wings bejeweled with fairy lights. Around them, partygoers sang songs, drank and danced.
Police were booed when they told people to disperse. There were no arrests seen by Reuters.
Some pubs and bars – one displaying a sign “Save Soho to help save livelihoods” – put on cut price drinks with pints of beer going for as little as £2 (US$2.70) to shift stock before they closed. From Wednesday they will only be allowed to serve takeaways.
The coronavirus lockdown has left many bars and restaurants across the world facing an unprecedented cash crunch: large rents, often high debt and zero income.