“Dear friends. Our journey has come to an unexpected halt. Many of you have asked about the dates for Darklands 2021. For now we can only offer hope that we can soon be reunited with our friends and family. The decision if and when Darklands 2021 takes place will follow once we’re able to meet again in safe conditions.”
You read well: “if and when”.
The reason is obvious: coronavirus COVID-19. It shouldn’t be a surprise.
Darklands 2020 went ahead amidst some concern. But organiser Jeroen Van Lievenoogen took sanitary measures. It was the last weekend before he lockdown and the severity of the pandemic hadn’t sunk in yet.
So the party went ahead. 22% of the pre-sold tickets were not redeemed. People stayed away, although one couldn’t notice it on the festival grounds.
But then the news came some visitors were infected with COVID-19 when they were partying. Darklands reported five cases and acknowledged there were more, unreported.
The Belgian and international leather and fetish community has had to mourn the death of some of its prominent members, such as Daniel Dumont from Brussels. He was present a Darklands in Antwerp. He had been in Italy just before.
So people close to the organising committee have been or very ill or worse.
Darklands is about love, friendship and yes also about sex. You cannot have a festival such as Darklands with rules of social – actually physical – distancing.
If you think it’s a gay think, you’re mistaken. Yes, men who have sex with men (MSM), aka gay and bi men tend to have more sex. But ‘straight’ music festivals are not sexless. What do you think happens on all those camping grounds?
No festivals without vaccin?
Hugo de Jonghe (CDA), minister of Public Health, Welfare and Sports of The Netherlands already announced there would be no major public (mass) events without vaccin. That’s a big announcement.
Belgium‘s prominent virologist prof. dr. Marc Van Ranst said on the Flemish news broadcast that was premature.
But it’s a reality, certainly for a physical, intimate, sexual event such as Darklands. Will it go ahead next year? Watch this space.