Swiss nightclub, shuttered by COVID-19, reborn as blood donation centre

LAUSANNE (Reuters) -A Swiss nightclub shuttered by COVID-19 restrictions has been converted into a temporary blood donation centre, bringing new life to an empty multi-floor warehouse that previously heaved with revellers.

Chandeliers that used to illumine the dance floor for thousands of party-goers at the MAD nightclub in the student town of Lausanne now light the way for nurses to insert needles as songs by Queen, the Bee Gees and Michael Jackson play.

“It was almost heartbreaking to see a place like this which has existed for almost 35 years asleep for so long,” said manager Igor Blaska. “So of course we were proud to organise any activity that was possible.”

The nightclub in the Flon district, normally at the heart of the city’s nightlife, has been shut for almost 10 months due to restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Switzerland has been hit hard by a second wave of COVID-19 cases. In total, it has reported more than 350,000 infections and more than 5,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

One former reveller-turned-blood donor said it felt good to be back at MAD -- which stands for Moulin a Danse or ‘dance mill’, and has a giant, red wheel suspended from the roof.

“I came without question because it is a legendary place,” said Olivier Rebel. “There was this side (of me, saying) - get out of the house, go back to a place I’m not going to anymore but which is full of memories. It was just nice.”

Writing by Emma FargeEditing by Gareth Jones