Photo essay: Reno nightlife reopens (at least for a while)

MidTown Wine Bar owner Tony Gentile checks on customers during a live show. "We are responsible," he said. "We can all socially distance and stay in our seats and enjoy background music and at least have some measure of live entertainment.” - photo: Eric Marks/Sierra Nevada Ally

In a Sept. 30 mandate, Gov. Sisolak increased the limit on gatherings from 50 to 250 people, or 50 percent of capacity, allowing many Reno bars and clubs to resume live entertainment.

Photographer Eric Marks visited a few local nightlife spots to find out what reopening looks like. He saw clubs making creative modifications like parking-lot seating, livestreaming DJ sets, and, yes, one intrepid open-mic host who covers the mic with a fresh sock for each performer.

This being 2020, things change quickly. Yesterday, we saw a new gathering limit from  Washoe County of 50, and a recommendation of 25. Today, the City of Reno urged people to resume sheltering at home. Marks shot all of these photos in mid-October and observed that all of these venue operators were acting within the then-current guidelines.

Comedy Power Hour Open Mic host Norman Enlow prepares for a performance at The Office (formerly The Jungle) on First Street. Enlow hosts the event every Tuesday night and serves as audio technician and promoter. He said all the performers and the venue owner were being extremely respectful of safety guidelines, and he was very happy to be back to live performance. One of the creative safety precautions he employed was to cover the microphone with clean socks between performers.

Comedy Power Hour Open Mic comedian Louis Cervantes performs his set at The Office. The event drew a crowd of 16.
Comedy Power Hour Open Mic audience member Lucia Denton said that she felt safe at the event, as she observed The Office and the performers adhering to safety protocols.
Chris Costa performs on the sidewalk outside of the Polo Lounge. Owner Nicholas Dismang said, “We’ve been doing [outdoor performance seating] for a while. It’s spacious. It’s comfortable. It’s outside. As long as the weather holds up, we are good. We can’t do full bands yet, so that’s what it is.”
As Chris Costa performed, Polo Lounge patrons, who would usually be dancing, remained seated at tables.
Jason King tunes up for his second set at MidTown Wine Bar. “I think with the social distancing and the masks it’s all right” King said.
MidTown Wine Bar bartender Amaya Zaga serves customers during Jason King’s set break.
Of all the venues that photographer Eric Marks visited, MidTown Wine Bar had the most visible signage and enforcement. Owner Tony Gentile posted fliers and posters around the facility and actively enforced the no-dancing mandate.
The Bluebird Reno sets up for “Singularity,” an event that featured several DJs performing in-house and a livestream on Twitch.
Bluebird bartender Kelly Proud said she felt safe at the venue because “they’ve done a really good job at maintaining social distancing guidelines. The audience especially has been really grateful and appreciative, so it’s worked really well since the beginning.”
Singer-songwriter Greg Gilmore performs at The Alpine, the concert hall on East Fourth Street adjacent to Record Street Brewing Co., which opened in May.
The warehouse the contains The Alpine at Record Street Brewing Co. was home to Alpine Glass Co. almost a century ago. Last week, the venue blocked off the tables nearest to the stage and provided hand sanitizer.