Let’s travel back in time… Nothing too extreme. No Enchantment Under The Sea Dance. No Battle of Culloden. Let’s travel back to a time that feels unsettling far from our present day, despite being only one year ago. Let’s go back to February 2020. To a time when we were making (very uneducated) bat-eating jokes, booking overseas travel and tickets to The Cursed Child, and very much looking forward to the fast-approaching comedy festival, AFL season, and all manner of other crowd-filled, socially-not-at-all-distant events that, in less than one month, would feel as far from our reach as the Wild Wild West.
That was our normal. That was pre-Covid. And then, practically overnight, our normal was no longer our reality. Slowly but surely, one by one, all those events we’d so been looking forward to were struck off the calendar. The Grand Prix, the Comedy Festival, the Olympics. All canceled, or at best, postponed, and we were reduced to getting our entertainment fix from a series of live streams, YouTube clips, and eerily quiet televised sporting events (we almost grew fond of the AFL’s ‘cheering crowd’ track – almost). This was our new normal. It was hard. It was lonely. It was frightening.
Now, back into the DeLorean (or the phone booth if that’s more your style) to present-day, and yet another version of normal to navigate. This new normal has a lot in common with the normal of February last year – and it feels great! Yes, there are a lot more face masks than we ever expected to see outside of surgery, sanitizer is still in high demand, and even the least tech-savvy among us now has some understanding of QR codes, but we are eating out, we are going to the cinema, we are watching live sports, we are living again.
Humans are incredibly resilient and surprisingly adaptable. Moonlit cinemas and drive-ins have always been popular, but now they are also the safest option to experience the latest releases. Theatres are back at 75% capacity, but we’re seeing more and more outdoor performances (and how lucky we are to have venues like the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and the Royal Botanic Gardens on our doorstep). And sport is back, baby!! With plenty of Covid-safe precautions in place, the AFLW is off to a strong start, the Australian Open is in full swing, we’ve enjoyed a summer of cricket, and our sporting stars of the future are returning enthusiastically to Auskick and Little Athletics as a huge number of local sporting clubs start coming back to life.
While we’re not quite at the stage where it’s safe to hug our friends in the foyer, and masks will remain our no 1 fashion accessory for some time to come, this is a normal we can get behind. It’s a normal where remaining socially distant doesn’t come at the cost of our social lives. Not without its silver linings, most of post-February 2020 was pretty bleak. Our new, event-filled normal is spreading golden rays of hope far and wide. It’s hard to see other parts of the world still doing it tough, but we’ll remain resilient and adaptable, we’ll remain vigilant, and we’ll make the most of our ever-growing list of things to do and see. And we’ll appreciate every darn moment. See you at the footy!
A very important post-script: Enormous gratitude must be expressed to those working behind the scenes to make all of these events possible while keeping everyone safe. The duck may appear to be floating calmly on the pond, but there is some furious paddling beneath the surface in the form of ever-changing covid plans and implementation. We thank you from the bottom of our theatre/sporting/cinema/gallery/restaurant/winery/market/exhibition loving hearts!