Peru's largest LGTBQ disco turns into a supermarket during COVID-19
Diverse and sometimes run by drag queens, the Vale Todo Downtown grocery store is no longer just a reference point for the LGBTQ community, but for an entire country in the midst of a pandemic.
The new normality forced upon us by the COVID-19 quarantine around the world has meant that many businesses, especially those dedicated to nightlife, have had to transform themselves to resist the harsh economic crisis and curfews.
In Peru's largest nightclub, they have boasted that the anthem for the gay community is "I will survive" and have traded the bars and dance floors for supermarket shelves to supply the population of Lima, the capital, with basic necessities.
Of course, Vale Todo Downtown, even though it is now a grocery store, continues to maintain the spirit with which it managed to become a symbol for the LGBTQ people of Lima. It is "different," diverse and attended to by the club's staff, including its most festive workers, the drag queens.
"With a very distant future to resume the operation, which is still far away, we thought about what we could do to help and give work to our collaborators, who have a very complicated situation. And that's where this project came from," explained its manager, Claudia Achuy, to EFE.
Located in the Miraflores district, Vale Todo Downtown is an authentic institution in Lima, with its more than 2,000 square meters, two floors and five very busy rooms seven days a week. But after more than 100 days of hard quarantine, the "show must go on" adapted to the new times and its 120 employees could not be left without work either. The transformation, however, took place progressively.
"When the country closed, the first thing we did was a virtual disco, free of charge and still in operation, to continue being close to the public that always accompanies us... Then we looked for something that would allow us to generate income of some kind, and so we began with a delivery of products that we already had in 'stock' and so we landed the idea," said Achuy.
The result is Minimarket Downtown, a unique market within a nightclub that has, by necessity, turned grocery shopping into a "different experience," where the dance floors have been filled with shelves and the neon lights and disco balls have given way in favor daytime lighting. But it's still a magical place, with the graffiti on the cement walls and floors and industrial appearance that used to characterize this party room full of art and culture.
It's proof that when a country stops, the music still plays.