- "We won't be able to throw even limited capacity parties that are what I think people would expect and enjoy," Queens club Nowadays tells RA.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that live performances can return to New York starting on April 2nd, The New York Times reports.
The new policy will allow events venues to reopen at 33 percent capacity, with a limit of 100 people indoors, and double that outdoors. If all attendees test negative before the event, however, the capacity can increase, permitting up to 150 people indoors and 500 people outdoors. The new rules still require all guests to remain masked and maintain social distancing at events.
The announcement comes at a time when New York's Covid-19 variant, which has proven to be more infectious and vaccine-resistant, steadily travels across the US. Over the last week, New York and neighboring state New Jersey have shown the highest positivity rates in the country at 38 new cases per 100,000 people—18 cases above the national average.
Without any updates on dancing restrictions, New York City dance music venues are taking the new regulations with a grain of salt. "At this point, the lifting of restrictions doesn't affect us much," says Justin Carter, cofounder of Ridgewood club Nowadays. "With the social distancing requirements, there's not much opportunity for us to have people dancing—at least in a way that would seem appealing to us at the moment. Maybe we could figure out a way of doing some kind of programming, but until there's enough evidence out there showing that gathering closer together than six feet is relatively safe, we won't be able to throw even limited capacity parties that are what I think people would expect and enjoy."
After shuttering for the winter in November, Bushwick's Bossa Nova Civic Club will also remain closed for now. Farther down Myrtle Avenue, Mood Ring plans to reopen as a cocktail bar with table service at the end of the month, but the Bushwick venue will hold off on events. "We've now been through a year of the shutdown and with the light at the end of the tunnel, we think that it's best to wait until events can be safely thrown," cofounders Vanessa Li and Bowen Goh say.
Though cofounder and programming director of Brooklyn's Elsewhere venue, Rami Haykal, hints at the possibility of hosting events on the club's rooftop (which was also open with restrictions last summer), he echoes the sentiment. "As much as 33 percent is a step forward, it's still not enough for us to potentially move along and try to do a bit more. And there hasn't been any mention yet about dancing," he explains. "That to me is where I'm starting to get a little bit worried, about when that will start making it into some of the regulations."
Knockdown Center director Tyler Myers explains that despite the multi-room Queens venue's optimal space for social distancing, the venue will also remain closed until a higher capacity is allowed. "The numbers are too small," he says. "There is an absurdity to a venue with my square footage being, essentially, still shuttered by the state when I'm probably the safest place for an event to happen. I have a ridiculous amount of windows and doors, multiple outdoor patios, full HVAC and ceilings that are so high that the indoor air volume is five or six times what it would be in a restaurant that holds 300 and can now have 100 people in it."
For other struggling venues still waiting on aid from the government, the mere idea of opening up is a sore point. Head booker of Greenpoint venue Good Room, Josh Houtkin, expresses that after a challenging year, the venue doesn't feel equipped to seriously consider a reopen. "We're still so deep in having been closed for a year and still waiting for some of the government grants, like the Save Our Stages grant, that still hasn't opened. So we're still in pretty deep conversations with our landlord and all that kind of stuff."
"So now they're saying, 'Oh, you can open.' Well, it's not that easy because technically we've been closed, and there's a lot of things that might not be that easy to just open for safety reasons, business reasons, staff reasons."