Businesses should leave 90s gimmicks in the past

Graphic by Kash Patel

As I exited the cold exterior of Queen Street and entered the elegant interior of The Walper Hotel, the sound of EMF’s ‘Unbelievable’ flooded my ears. 

I walked up to the second floor lounge and was greeted with the sight of 11 people: A group of five people sitting at a table who appeared to be playing a card game of some sort (upon further inspection they were all just on their phones), three at the bar, two bartenders and a DJ in the corner standing behind a MacBook.

This was The Lokal’s 90s night.

This general vibe continued on into the night with “DJ Good DR” spinning hits that were just 90s enough to appease the crowd who came for this reason. 

Unfortunately, that crowd was non-existent.

The general atmosphere in the establishment was as if a bunch of children had taken over the sound system in a smoking lounge. 

The juxtaposition of middle-aged individuals sipping wine and beer while Matt Nathanson’s ‘Laid’ —most famously known as the American Pie song — played was an entertaining sight at the very least.

I don’t want to attack anybody here or disparage any business for trying to get more business with a draw like a themed music night, but I cannot sit here and lie about my experience. 

It’s no secret that looking back at the past with rose-tinted glasses is a favourite past-time of many people on the planet, but businesses have to understand that they need to include substance along with their capitalization on their consumers.

Disregarding the music, I had a pleasant time.

The staff was very welcoming and polite, and they had alcohol, but that’s not why I was there. 

The music did pick up a little while later with the inclusion of more recognizable hits from the era that was advertised on the pamphlets, but then it died out as unimpressively and abruptly as it started — the end of a technotronic song marking the end of the evening.

During my time spent at The Lokal, I had a few questions in mind in regards to their themed night. 

I was curious as to whether these themed nights were popular, and that answer was given to me without any mistake as soon as I entered the lounge at the start of my evening. 

Although the night was advertised in an attempt to garner more business, there were no more people there than there would have been during regularly.

These people obviously came to drink in a pseudo-upscale setting with their friends, and the music did not impact their choice one way or another.

But why a 90s night? Obviously, there has to be a reason to use that focus to try and get people to come and drink at your bar instead of any other bar in the city. 

I think it boils down to nostalgia, but more importantly the perceived importance of nostalgia in the eyes of businesses. 

It’s no secret that looking back at the past with rose-tinted glasses is a favourite past-time of many people on the planet, but businesses have to understand that they need to include substance along with their capitalization on their consumers. 

Having a night where you play music that is vaguely 90’s is not going to inspire anyone to visit your business unless they have another reason to be there; like writing an article for the school paper, for example.

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