The ban in the United States, a short-lived experiment that began 100 years ago, popularized the speakeasy: an illicit establishment designed to sell alcoholic beverages during the years they were legally prohibited.
Now people are developing underground social clubs again – and even styling their parties after the speakeasy era.
This is true even in Los Angeles, where more than 14,000 positive coronavirus tests are reported in a day, and where the public health risks of going to a party seem too obvious to let revelers remain in denial.
For the record: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends celebrating at home, wearing a mask around others, and definitely avoiding crowds.
Throughout the pandemic, well-attended parties have mostly been closed in Los Angeles, leading to a culture of secrecy on social media. At the same time, the organizers of underground parties choose to appeal to the truth of human behavior. They know they can capitalize on the innate desire to socialize; for all those who can’t imagine leaving their homes right now, there are others who are quite ready to celebrate the arrival of 2021 in the company of foreign loved ones, as they would any other year.
These New Years Eve parties in Los Angeles include Spanky’s, which promises a laid-back adventure in an “indoor / outdoor” downtown venue. The entrance fee includes a “10-minute Covid-19 antigen test”, according to the invitation. (Although the tests may rule out some people with coronavirus, it is not a foolproof method. On the one hand, rapid tests have a higher potential for false positives, according to the FDA)
Chloe Chappe, 26 and a private chef in Los Angeles, has been receiving Spanky’s emails since July and isn’t sure how she ended up on their mailing list. “I find it funny and frustrating that people are trying to justify the party right now,” she says. “Why are you trying to party when the infection rate is so high?”
In many cases, the celebrations have been traded for discretion. People “don’t publish articles because they know how badly they’re going to have a negative reaction,” Ms. Chappe said. “Being deprived of this kind of interaction for almost a year, I fully understand why people would finally want to celebrate the end of this year, but we’re not at that point in terms of security, so there’s such dissonance there.
Cherrelle Moore, 28, and a freelance New York creative celebrating New Years Eve in Los Angeles, has been going to California for about a month. She said she had been to “four or five nights at home and a strip club” during this time. Ms Moore plans to see people on the eve of 2021 – but limit her night to a low-key house party.
“People think that going out is just being irresponsible, but sometimes it’s nice and warm and good for your sanity to be around people you love and even meet new people – you just need to ‘be responsible,’ she said. She estimated that she had been tested over 15 times – “almost every two weeks, mostly because I was in large gatherings.”
Ms Moore said she had never had coronavirus – ‘thank goodness’ – and that she believed ‘there was a line of communication and trust’ needed to socialize safely during the pandemic. And although she posted about it on social media, she noticed that it seemed like “people were shadowing me” and so did her friends, so she started posting only on her private Instagram network. ‘close friends.
“The reason I even left New York was because I felt like I was about to sink into a deep depression again. I came here for friends. I just didn’t want to stay in New York for the coming New Year, ”Ms. Moore said. “We can agree and disagree, but life is so short. It may sound irresponsible, but I’m just going to live my life. I have been very careful and responsible the whole time so I will try to introduce myself and come forward for 2021 and I hope it is a lot better than this year.
She is not alone.
An iOS app called Vybe Together encouraged users to “Engage Your Rebel” and “Party” and was designed to organize and promote underground parties to its audience. It seemed particularly well designed to facilitate parties that would violate current restrictions.
After gaining attention this week, its website went down and Apple pulled the app from its store on Tuesday. (Business Insider reported that TikTok also deleted the company’s account.) “We blew up a bit overnight,” said someone who answered Vybe Together’s phone. (The owners declined to speak further.)
The app only had a few thousand users, although thousands more were waiting for their access to be approved.
Vybe Together updated their Instagram bio amid the issues: “The App Store destroyed us !!! We will be back!!! Follow to stay up to date !!! A minimal text message appeared on the account’s Instagram story: “Out of proportion to the media. We DO NOT CONDUCT LARGE MEETINGS !!! “
Eventbrite, an event management and ticketing platform, has also been a popular option for people who throw parties. A recent “Maskerade” in a Los Angeles mansion ($ 80, open bar, round-trip bus to party) was announced there. The invitation, which sparked anger on social media, was removed from Eventbrite’s website.
Several other parties that will be held at popular Los Angeles nightlife venues (such as Bootsy Bellows and Harriet’s Rooftop) have also been listed on Eventbrite but are now marked as canceled. Blind Dragon, a place listed as closed on OpenTable, has promised a “premium open bar” starting at 9 p.m. “Gatsby’s House NYE” in Huntington Beach had tickets starting at $ 99 and going over $ 3,795. An event at Skybar, on the roof of the Mondrian in West Hollywood, promised a special live DJ performance.
“Our community policy has always prohibited events that promote or contain illegal behavior and our community plays a vital role in reporting any listing or content of related events,” said a spokesperson for Eventbrite in a communicated. The company is investigating the complaints and says it wants to promote digital gatherings during the pandemic.
“In the absence of our ability to bring people together for in-person experiences, we moved quickly to help creators bring their experiences online,” said Julia Hartz, Founder and CEO of Eventbrite.
Those who still want to party will come back looking for celebrations in a retro way: via private Instagrams, DMs and invitations with no downloadable details, just an address that will be texted by midnight with a request to wear a mask.
Earlier this month, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office filed a lawsuit against the director of the LA Party Society, a nightclub in the downtown Fashion District, and others associated with the venue for “Organize crowded events in the midst of a growing pandemic,” Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles City Attorney, said in a virtual press conference.
As of now, the city’s new “Safer Home Targeted Ordering” is clear. He states that “all public and private gatherings and events with people from more than one household are not permitted except for religious services and outdoor political expression” – and that all “lounges and clubs of night ”must be closed.