On Memorial Day, I went to my first social gathering in 3 months. It was a barbeque and I cooked. I paid extra attention to how I handled the food, especially the raw vegetables that would go in the communal guacamole bowl. We laid out a pile of clean silverware to avoid touching the communal plates with used forks or sharing a serving spoon. It wasn’t perfect, but I got to see my friends and get a sense for what this new world may look like.

People socialize even when things are at their worst. When the worst is an invisible and transmutable disease, people must reevaluate what socializing looks like.

We previously wrote about some of the platforms working to preserve socialization. Here, I want to talk about physical, yet socially distant encounters in the time of COVID-19.

Socially Distant Movies

Once a cornerstone of leisure, Movie theaters were already losing customers before COVID-19 rendered them unsafe. This pandemic may be the nail in the coffin for many main-stream theaters.

Now, a previously outdated activity is rising to fill this gap: drive-in theaters. Drive-in theaters offer an opportunity for people to go out to see films and revel in a forgotten nostalgia, without coming into physical contact with any people.

As an example, our friends over at Seattle Entertainment Group are teaming up with Promosa to offer drive-in experiences on native reservations.

Socially Distant Nightlife

Nightlife is Foria’s bread and butter, and we know all too well how independent venues are suffering. Our last blog and Cherie Hu’s detailed directory outline some of the ways the digital world has stepped up to fill a world without nightlife.

We all know virtual events are no substitute for real-life connections.

While clubs will remain closed for some time, policy has shifted around public alcohol laws, allowing bars to serve to-go drinks for people to enjoy on the sidewalk or at home.

Last Friday I went for a walk around my neighborhood in the east village. Instead of endless shuttered doors, I noticed a few bars set up stands on the sidewalk, and people enjoying drinks responsibly, with respect to social distancing.

When the worst is an invisible and transmutable disease, people must reevaluate what socializing looks like

Socially Distant Dating

Oooh wee! Things have sure changed for all us single lovers. With social distancing, most of us don’t have an opportunity to meet new people. Online dating isn’t going anywhere, but the culture around it is changing. Hinge now offers an opportunity for matches to video chat when they both agree independently.

We’ve also seen a rise in socially distant offline dating. Recently I took a date on a nice walk in the park, stopping by a bar to grab a cocktail to go. We got to know each other, and after the sunset, we waved goodbye. We ensured physical distance the whole way through. Without an aura of expectations, we took the initiative to learn more about each other than we might have before the pandemic. Silver linings do exist.

None of these solutions can replace what we’ve lost. I am looking forward to once again sitting in a theater, to boogieing in a crowded room under a disco ball, and to hugging strangers. Through these experiences, we know that we have hope, that humanity will find a way to come together.

Hell, perhaps some of these changes will live on to improve socializing after this pandemic. Maybe we’ll see a resurgence in drive-in theaters. Maybe we can continue going on dates with the intention of getting to know one another. Maybe we will be able to enjoy a cocktail from Pony Boy while strolling through McCarren Park.

We’ll get there, one step at a time.