The Increase of Bars in Valletta
Written by Steve Mercieca
Written by Steve Mercieca
For quite a few years, Valletta was only known as a daytime-shopping centre and as a workplace by most of the population. It was hardly booming with nightlife.
But now it’s a completely different story. Valletta has become the upscale Paceville, with trendy bars opening their doors left right and centre. Strait Street has seen a lot of partying in its day, mostly by sailors and prostitutes, but today it’s home to a more cultured type of entertainment.
Ever since Valletta became the European Capital of Culture 2018, Valletta’s nightlife scene has been rejuvenated and with it its surrounding areas. This is called ‘gentrification’, and it’s simultaneously a good thing and a bad thing.
Gentrification occurs when previously degenerate or deteriorated areas are redeveloped, resulting in the dual affect of more affluent people moving into the residential area and the less affluent already living there having to move out. Let’s look at this in further detail.
The Good Side
In a study carried out for the Valletta 2018 Foundation, entitled ‘Community Inclusion and Accessibility in Valletta 2018’, Michael Deguara found that the majority of local Valletta residents, Beltin, believed that the nightlife was actually giving life to the city.
Deguara quotes from one particular interviewee who commented that injecting Valletta with the new life that it needs is more than just fixing the roads. Nightlife, and therefore the continued openings of bars, is a crucial aspect of this. The interviewee also stated that today’s tourist is yesterday’s sailor, implying that Valletta and its nightlife must now cater to the tourist’s needs just as it once did to the sailor’s.
The study also found that Valletta landowners saw property as a clear investment, given that the increase in property value due to the increase of bars in Valletta works very much to their favour.
The Bad Side
Deguara’s study also highlights the contrasting perspectives on the issue of gentrification. Beltin people are concerned by the effects of gentrification on property prices, namely that property prices are steadily increasing due to gentrification.
While this is an extremely positive thing for residents who own their property, as we’ve already said, it’s hardly good news for those who still have to pay landlords who keep upping the rent.
Aside from this, one resident revealed that they are far from a fan of the new nightlife scene, commenting that, ‘“What we are seeing is just the standard nightlife model transferred onto Valletta… the restaurants that promote genuine stuff, and the old bars, are being forgotten.” For this particular resident, the increase of bars is something to be saddened by as it is chipping away from the historical and cultural authenticity of Valletta.
We can’t, of course, ignore the aspect of noise pollution that these bars must bring with them. For the residents who live in the vicinities of the bars, going to sleep or getting a moment’s peace must be a challenge in itself.
What’s going to happen next?
Well, as cliché as it is, it’s impossible to tell what’s going to happen next in the process of developing Valletta’s entertainment industry.
What we can tell is that while gentrification is beneficial for landowners in Valletta, it must in part be kept in check for the sake of those who might end up evicted from their houses or apartments. A balance must be reached in order to protect the integrity of those who have called Valletta home all their lives.