You can’t spew droplets if you’re a disco ball. Matt Baume
The past two weeks have been a shitshow for people in the nightlife industry.
The recent near-vertical growth of COVID cases in King County has scattered Seattle’s nightlife, while the state has done practically nothing to advise on what to do this New Year’s Eve. (The state health department had only one line on how to stay safe during NYE celebrations in today’s news release: “People should consider avoiding large crowds, and anyone who tests positive should stay home.”) So, musicians, promoters, drag and burlesque performers, bookers, and venues have had to become their own quasi-public health departments to determine what’s safe and what’s not. To mixed results.
Many nightlife workers rely on a packed house to get paid, which only increases the risk of COVID exposure. Because of the omicron strain’s contagiousness and ability to cause breakthrough infections, some venues and artists have canceled or postponed New Year’s Eve events on short notice. Others, faced with losing their primary source of income, have pushed forward. There’s hope that vaccination checks, masks, and antibodies are enough to keep them relatively safe during these omicron times.
We spoke with several nightlife workers to get their perspectives on canceling New Year’s Eve events. What emerged is a complex look into what it’s like to work in nightlife during a rudderless end-of-year pandemic response.
We pruned these responses for space and clarity.
What led to you canceling or keeping your show? Was it performer or venue driven?
Cookie Couture (drag queen; MCing Pony’s NYE, not canceled): For me, COVID is here to stay and all I can do is weigh the risks day by day and make appropriate decisions for me. Pony does vaxx checks and they ask folks to mask up inside (which I’ve heard is becoming more strict). I actually got it last week despite being vaccinated and rarely leaving the house, and haven’t left the house at all since then (I’m past my isolation period and just got a negative test back).
Skyler Locatelli (co-founder of Freakout Records; programmed Freakout NYE at The Crocodile, canceled): We made the tough call as the Promoter of the event to cancel, due to many factors, Covid/Omicron at the forefront though… The Crocodile was also on board with this decision so it was more mutual than one or the other’s decision. What is really tough is this wasn’t just a one or two band bill type of show and some of our performers would have still played. We had 9 bands, a DJ collective and a touring …….