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‘Coming back to life’: The bar scene returns in full force as people reemerge, ditch COVID precautions

'Coming back to life': The bar scene returns in full force as people reemerge, ditch COVID precautions


‘Coming back to life’: The bar scene returns in full force as people reemerge, ditch COVID precautions

Bars, restaurants reopen indoors across LondonPubs, bars, restaurants and cafes reopened for indoor eating and drinking in London in May, under the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown, after being closed since the beginning of January. (May 19)APNew York City’s Lower East Side was electric on a June Saturday night as lines snaked around blocks characterized by the scent of cheap beer, mingled with sweat, perfume, the occasional cigarette and the faint aroma of puke.Impromptu fireworks even went off in the distance as lines wrapped around the block with patrons waiting to enter dimly lit bars pulsing with the beat of popular music.Serena Kerrigan, 27, who started a dating show during the pandemic, was born and raised in New York City so is no stranger to the lines, which have quickly returned, snaking around Manhattan venues. She told USA TODAY that her experience returning to clubs and bars has been “euphoric.””Lines are long literally everywhere,” Kerrigan said.Dating and hookups are back, too: It can be overwhelming. Here’s how to ease back in.’I want to live it up’: Young people plan ‘wild’ summers, hope to make up for lost timeWhile data on how quickly nightlife is returning to the City That Never Sleeps isn’t yet available, Ariel Palitz, executive director of the Office of Nightlife at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, told USA TODAY that “the return of New York City nightlife is fully underway.”On June 15, most restrictions in the state were lifted, with venues such as restaurants being allowed to make social distancing and capacity limitations optional.Palitz said that while there are still challenges for venues in the city, she is encouraged to see so many up and running – and to see “New Yorkers enthusiastically getting back on the dance floor.”But it’s not just New York City howling back to life in the later hours. In cities across the country, many Americans are ready to give the Roaring ’20s a run for their money as restrictions have lifted or eased across the country.Some bars and clubs are busier than ever It’s not been an easy year and a half for bars and clubs, but things are looking up as restrictions lift.Noah Tepperberg is co-CEO of Tao Group Hospitality, which has a portfolio that includes more than 60 venues, such as Tao, Lavo, Vandal and Marquee, among others, scattered in cities across the country and in some international locations. Tepperberg said not all of the Tao Group’s locations have reopened yet, though all are open in Chicago, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.”During the early days of everything being closed, I think we had all had a pit in our stomach,” Tepperberg told USA TODAY. “We were all uncertain as to what the future would look like for all of our venues but specifically for our nightclubs and day clubs where people tend to be closer and they thrive on being crowded.”But as people were vaccinated against COVID-19 and gained a level of comfort with being around others, including strangers, they started to return to Tao Group’s venues in a way that Tepperberg said he doesn’t think anyone anticipated.”For some of our venues, particularly in Las Vegas, June did see some of its best results,” Tepperberg said. “(There’s been an) uptick in reservations for nightclubs specifically,” JC Diaz, president of the American Nightlife Association, told USA TODAY. Crowds are returning to bar-type environments, too. Fiddlesticks Pub, a bar in Manhattan, is seeing its patrons return. “The buzz is there,” general manager Domhnall Byrnes told USA TODAY, noting that while bar crowds aren’t back to pre-COVID levels quite yet, he expects that demand will increase further as time goes on.Byrnes said “it’s magic” to see people back out on the dance floor at Fiddlesticks. People are returning to nightlife at different pacesKerrigan said she expected normalcy to return at a slower pace than it has. “I think that I anticipated the world opening back up very slowly with a pace to it, and I don’t think that’s the case … it skyrocketed out of nowhere.”With the country reopening, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising that vaccinated people can return to their pre-pandemic activities, people are jumping back in at different paces and feeling out their own comfort levels as many return to social life.Kristen Mankosa, 32, a freelance editor living in Eerie, Pennsylvania, told USA TODAY that she is sticking to uncrowded bars and prioritizing outdoor spaces with fully vaccinated friends and family. She continues to carry and wear h Accer mask inside. “I’ve avoided COVID so far, and I want to keep it that way, especially with the variants popping up,” she said. “But after a year of quarantining, isolating and social distancing, I’m ready for an espresso martini that I don’t have to make.”Scott Nelson, 34 from West Hollywood, California, said he was more than ready to get back to bars when they reopened last month. He started at Akbar, a gay bar in Silverlake, and said it was pleasantly busy, but not too packed.”The sweat was palatable on the dance floor, filled with shirtless and elated gays having the time of their lives,” he said. “I was hesitant (and put off) at first, because this felt like too much of a sensory overload so quickly after spending 15 months, six feet away from any human, but it took only a moment to get back into the metaphorical (and literal) groove.”Justin Stewart, 33, a segment producer for NBC’s “Early Today,” has been out in Jersey City, New Jersey, and in Washington, D.C., where he lives. Stewart said it has been great to be around people again and in fun atmospheres – but returning to normalcy does come with some anxiety around dropped mask mandates and bars filled to 100% capacity.I am happy that businesses are coming back to life… Especially safe spaces for LGBTQ people.” he said.Like Mankosa, Stewart is striving to go to more rooftops and outdoor bars. It feels safer, he said, especially as COVID-19’s Delta variant has picked up steam across the U.S.On social media people are posting about their return to nightlife.Peter Troiano wrote in a caption of a TikTok in which he danced after “realizing” he was going to be in a bar again the next night that he was “so happy” that everything had reopened. He tagged the post #nightout #boston.But it’s not just that nightlife is back. In clubs and bars, there’s a new kind of excitement as people regain human contact that so many lost for more than a year, according to Kerrigan.”I remember specifically when ‘Empire State of Mind’ was playing, there was just like this comradery and true feeling of community in a night club I had never experienced before,” Kerrigan said.Not all the business hurdles are goneWhile many customers have been vaccinated, the pandemic isn’t over. And safety challenges remain for businesses like bars and clubs.”If we can maintain current safety and security options, we can stay open for a long time,” Diaz said, noting that if venues are “careless,” that may not be an option, and restrictions could return.Tepperberg isn’t convinced the surge in nightlife will last forever, either. “If the world doesn’t get this disease under control, I don’t know if this lasts.”COVID shot tourism: Soon, you might be able see the sights and get a vaccine at New York City landmarks’Feel the city reawakening’: Tourists are coming back to New York City as pandemic restrictions ease

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