One year on from the UK's first lockdown, clubs remain closed. This audiovisual film by Tom Andrew and Sam Davis aims to capture this profound sense of loss and longing, setting shots of empty dance floors across England to original music by Daniel Avery.
VOID - One Year Of Silence is an audiovisual experience best enjoyed in full, with the lights down and the volume up.
A year ago to the day, the UK entered its first lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic. 66 million people were ordered to stay at home as all but essential businesses shut. Nightclubs, once abuzz with life and dancing, were left empty. Clubbers, many of whom relied on these spaces as sanctuaries away from the stresses of everyday life, suddenly had nowhere to go. Some of these venues will never reopen. Others still have at least three months to wait until ravers can return.
A handful of these venues appear in VOID - One Year Of Silence, a short film by British filmmakers Tom Andrew and Sam Davis. For the audiovisual piece, Andrew and Davis visited clubs across England, filming and photographing their empty dance floors. Shots of cavernous clubs and warehouses coalesce with original music by Daniel Avery. The aim of the project, as well as reflecting on a year without clubbing and human connection, is to raise money and awareness for CALM, a charity leading the movement against suicide in the UK.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide in the UK, offering life-saving services, provoking national conversation and bringing people together to empower everyone to reject living miserably and stand together against suicide.
Right now CALM is needed more than ever. Since lockdown their helpline answered more than 124,000 calls and web chats. That's one every 56 seconds.
If you're struggling, talk to CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or via their web chat. Their trained helpline staff are available from 5 PM through midnight every day to provide practical support and advice. It's free, anonymous and confidential, no matter who you are or what you're going through.
VOID was a concept born amid the past twelve months, while time stood still. We wanted to represent this feeling of paralysis that had integrated itself into our lives. We were drawn towards the distance we were feeling from the alchemy and escapism of the dance floor. Clubs, currently empty, contain an atmosphere that's searching for the love and togetherness they once held, while also carrying a restrained potential to create the same again... We wanted to capture this, while bringing an honest vision of the present, suspended between these two worlds.
- Tom Andrew, Sam Davis
I'm a huge admirer of Tom and Sam's work and the idea behind the film obviously ran deep with me from its inception. Clubs mean so much to our community; a world founded on love and connection will be the most welcome of returns. There was no starting point with the music as I wanted to be led by the images and everything they evoked, which turned out to be a somewhat entangled combination of restless longing, nervous excitement and the promise of ecstatic rush.
- Daniel Avery
I've missed the culture and social aspect as well as the molecule shaking beauty of soundsystem culture and this body music I love, but I feel lucky that I've been in a position where I've had a lot to work on throughout this pandemic. In addition to having a child, which is utterly life-changing, this has enabled me to focus on something outside of clubs that's completely good for my mental health and establish a deep, loving bond with my daughter. This level of connection was only allowed by the closure and lockdown life. I feel very grateful to have gone through this with my baby girl and a loving wife. After working my arse off to save the venue, which resulted in nearly 800 people donating to our crowdfunder, I realised just how much this place has meant to people. This was a very heartwarming and at times moving experience, to feel valued by the community you've served for years. I've never asked for help like this before, but when I did, my request was answered by so many kind people. This also has given me a period of stability where I've been able to rebuild in a calm, strategic way while never taking a moment for granted.
- Liam O'Shea, Hope Works
In 2020 while we were all sitting at home some very important issues came to light about inclusion, diversity and participation in our industry. For me, it's hard not to notice that our industry has been far removed from its roots: it's very white and middle class while also being very male, with male artists dominating the higher fees. I think we all have a part to play in building a better industry. Although, I have to say I am hopeful for the future and I can see our industry is beginning to take this on, but it's important to note the people holding the most power have the biggest part to play.
- Gabriel Day, Cosmic Ballroom
I think it's made us all realise how much we need music, people and dancing. Most people are under pressure in their lives and nightclubs are a great place to blow off steam and reset. We've all been trying various alternatives, but there's only so much jogging you can do and pretend to enjoy.
The uncertainty has been tough at times but rescheduling the calendar and revamping the club has been a good way to keep the club in mind. My daughter was born a couple of weeks into the first lockdown, which has been a blessing in a way as it's been like sharing my partner's maternity with her. I never would have had this time at home usually, so I'm grateful for that.
- Anton Stevens, Hidden
To be honest it has been testing and tough—who could have planned for this? We've gotten by ducking and diving, applying for every bit of support that we could and being unsuccessful in the majority of those applications.
During the summer we rolled with the punches and opened ourselves up as a traditional off-license, which for a very short period did very well for us and carried us through the next quarter. Currently we are running on fumes, and so a return to normality and the opportunity to create an income is very much welcomed.
If I'm completely honest, this break has been a positive one for me, looking inwards it has taught me a lot about myself, about my approach toward work, how important my own boundaries should be, and that my own mindfulness and mental health must come before anything else, as a priority. It's easy to allow the wave to dictate your workload if you allow it to. I've since learned to take the industry at my own pace, and feel putting my mind first sets me better for a successful year ahead.