At this point, nearly a year into a pandemic, it’s pretty obvious that life as we know it is drastically different.
The way we shop is different and wearing masks is now a normal thing; the way we see our friends and interact with people who we don’t live with also is completely different. Our daily social interactions are now very limited.
Before March 2020, I’m sure that many of us never gave a second thought to who we hugged, whose hand we shook or even whose space we shared. Many things around us are no longer what we had known life to be.
Having said that, most of us have, to some extent, come to terms with the situation at hand. Seemingly most of us have settled in to the restrictions that come with being in a pandemic; most of us are trying to find ways in which we can try and bring fit the luxuries of an unrestricted world fit into our new lives in a pandemic.
As a PR and marketing assistant for digital platform Dope Black Women, I have first-hand experience of trying to work harder to make our previous routines, including planning and participating in events fit within the limitations of the pandemic.With a new year comes new celebrations: Valentine’s Day, International Women’s Day, Easter, to mention just a few, along with friends’ and family birthdays and life celebrations mixed in-between. It is key to try and maintain the celebration of these despite the circumstances, and many are taking to social networking apps to make them into virtual celebrations.
The restrictions, although very limiting, have provided the opportunity for many individuals like me to be more creative and more innovative with conceptual ideas, while many musical artists have taken to platforms such YouTube and Onlyfans in order to host virtual concerts which have been streamed and a worldwide audience.
It has become a digital trend to host private concerts and events, despite most of concert goers having been used to seeing thousands of people whilst watching their favourite artists performing.
In some way fans are getting a more intimate view with these performers as they are viewing these events in the comfort of their homes and equally performers are broadcasting from their homes as well. The inability to see others in the same premises as you and hear the screams and voices of others singing along can create the illusion for many to feel as though it is just them and the performer.
Although, it may appear as though many of these events may be missing a way to replicate the vast spaces of existing concert halls and venues; with technology like VR headsets and 360° videos that allow for people to recreate a similar atmosphere, the adoption of new technology will continue to facilitate the recreation of these spaces virtually.The search for alternatives to traditional live events may even be creating new way in which to engage with an audience. With so many people on social media platforms and so many comments and likes, it’s easy to see that our favourite celebrities are still widely loved by many. It also means that, as fans of these talented individuals, it’s very easy to get lost within the millions of likes and comments.
Being able to enjoy events and concerts in the comfort of our homes has, in some respect, made people feel closer to their favourite artist. Certainly, the intimate feel of being on your sofa or in your bed whilst viewing your favourite singer live has made the experience of these types of events unique, suggesting that this manner of holding events is most likely to continue after the pandemic ends.
Covid-secure events are flourishing, offering an isolated space for artists to perform where there is very limited contact with people: limiting contact with onsite support crew but still be able to reach a large audience eager and ready to watch live music.
Similarly, with the aim of engaging and facilitating empowerment events for the women involved in the Dope Black Women digital space and maintaining an environment that works to encourage interactions and amplify the voices of black women, hosting virtual events is a key element of the brand.
They simulate a networking environment, utilising apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, have proved successful particularly where the networking element is involved as this is an area that is deemed key to attendees.Although most of us are missing the traditional experience of live events, the virtual alternative may be limited but also has its advantages, ranging from the freedom of access, you are able to join in and view from anywhere and everywhere. These events may not allow for you to see your favourite artist or speaker with your own eyes live and in the flesh, but they are in a way compensated by the fact that these live events are cheaper than the real thing, and when you factor in the fact that transport costs are eradicated, it doesn’t seem that bad.
Virtual events also have many benefits for the other side as well, for organisers such as myself – they mean fewer costs, as there is no need to spend money to hire venues and everything that is involved with holding an event including security, refreshments and health and safety.
It is evident that although the pandemic has not been ideal for many of us, virtual spaces have provided ways of returning to a somewhat functional society or ways in which we can maintain some elements of normality in terms of access to entertainment facilities. Despite it being virtual, it is still better than having nothing at all.
For the time being, the way in which we can enjoy such entertainment depends on us having high-definition cameras, high-speed connections and good microphone quality – these will remain crucial elements to keep audiences and performers engaged as the pandemic continues.
Bedroom concerts and living room networking events for virtual-reality experiences are the new normal in the events scene.
Featured Image by Ropa Madziva.
Edited by Sophie Victoria Brown and Natalia Zmarzlik