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Destin's Club L.A. adapts until music industry returns to normal

Savannah Evanoff
Northwest Florida Daily News

DESTIN – The past three shows at Club L.A. in Destin sold out.

After about four months of the venue being closed, people were ready for music again.

“People have really been enjoying the opportunity to get out and see a show, have a few drinks or food from our café,” said John Robertson, the general manager.

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Operations have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Robertson said. Like most other businesses, the venue forced to close March 1 because of the government mandated shutdown and had to postpone performances.

The Club LA nightclub in Destin has a variety of upcoming musical performances booked, including tribute bands for Van Halen, Journey, AC/DC and the Eagles.

“The postponed shows were all eventually cancelled as nationwide touring came to a complete standstill,” Robertson said. “Agents were hopeful that touring would resume by October this year, but those ideas were destroyed when many states started to spike again after the shutdown. The nationally touring bands, at this point, are homebound until February or March of 2021.”

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While the doors were closed, they painted and deep cleaned the entire venue, Robertson said. Now, it’s open – but with changes.

“When Florida entered Phase 2 of re-opening, we wondered what we could do to make Club LA as safe as possible for re-opening,” Robertson said. “We reduced capacity to 25% although Phase 2 allows up to 50%. We spent thousands of dollars on UV-C air scrubbers for the HVAC system in the room. As the air circulates, it cleans the air of virus, mold, etc. We have two air scrubbers working the room for the shows.”

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Other changes include measuring the distance between tables and rows of seats to meet the six-foot recommendation by the CDC and made all shows seated, eliminating tickets for standing. The seating on the floor in front of the stage are in pods of four chairs with a coffee table. The tables around the outside of the main floor are for groups of four, so all four seats must be purchased to obtain the table.

John Robertson, the general manager of Club L.A. in Destin, shares the music venue's new pandemic prevention plan.

“We offer complimentary masks at the box office, however masks are not a requirement for the patrons,” Robertson said. “The staff does wear masks and we have hand sanitizer available at the bar and food stand.”

Performances have resumed.

“We consulted with our radio partners at Cumulus and moved forward with celebrating the music of iconic rock bands by doing a tribute to a particular artist every Friday or Saturday night,” Robertson said. “The tribute bands perform a two-hour set and we DJ music videos from the era while patrons find their seats or tables and get ready for the show.”

To date, the venue has celebrated the music of Ozzy Osbourne, Guns n’ Roses, The Cars, Rush, Foreigner and Motley Crue. Some of the shows lined up are tributes to Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Journey, and AC/DC.

Club L.A. in Destin has adopted socially distanced seating in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

The venue plans to continue tribute performances until touring artists become more available.

“We hope our industry can return to normal in Q1 of 2021, fingers crossed,” Robertson said. “We miss the tour busses, national artists and big crowds.”