THE VENUES OF NYC: NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC


Music lovers everywhere have been fiending for live music since it was halted by the pandemic almost a year ago. The sweaty crowds, the spilled beer, and the singing along at the top of your lungs that we took for granted is now a distant memory and we remain unsure when we might experience its euphoria again. While the pandemic has rendered live music practically extinct, venues all over the world have found ways to stay in business-- whether they adhere to the CDC guidelines or not. From live streams to illegal underground raves, New York City’s music scene has seen its fair share of strategies imposed by these businesses’ to keep their heads above the water in a sea of chaos.


Historically, NYC has been a hub for music lovers. Home to thousands of venues, and clubs, it quickly became apparent that the venues around the city would experience financial hardship. This drove over 150 NYC-based venues to join “Save Our Stages”, an effort by the National Independent Venue Association (or NIVA) which comprises over 3,000 venues in 50 states that were trying to get targeted legislation to help them survive. The act passed on December 22nd, bringing about a new positive change and peace of mind for venues. However, in the time it took for the act to pass, venues were already forced to find creative ways or go out of business. While a plethora of GoFundMe pages, some accompanied by live streams, and campaigns were started to encourage the community to support the places they love, this often wasn’t enough. Many venues have been forced to close, caught in the devastating drip of skyrocketing rent prices and lack of revenue coming in.


What is most frustrating, however, is the blatant disregard that others have had to abide by the rules, while their colleagues and competitors crumble. Some of the most notable rule-breaking that gained public attention (and scrutiny) happened on Halloweekend last year, with two raves of over 400 people each in the NYC area being shut down. 28 organizers and participants were charged for exceeding well over the 10 maximum gathering limit.

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