As we enter the eighth month of quarantine (or March 267th for those of you keeping track at home), it seems the social customs of pre-pandemic daily life have evolved into cringe-worthy relics of a bygone time, especially during the virus' deadly second wave. In-personal socializing is a thing of the past. Faces seem naked without a mask. Large crowds can spark fear and anxiety. Hell, some people have even reported cringing at the sight of TV and film characters hugging, hanging out in groups, or touching each other.
As we adapt to these incredibly necessary new rules of engagement, ravers and EDM fans have flocked to TikTok to share nostalgic videos of themselves partying in a pre-covid society, sans the tangible fear of growing sick or potentially dying from a highly contagious novel respiratory illness.
"I will also tell my kids how we party before 2020," user @chrillthebill wrote alongside a Project X-esque party montage.
"My life before THIS FREAKIN' PANDEMIC and hopefully our lives again in 2021," wrote user @ceceb_, featuring clips from raves and festivals past.
Of all the videos featured under this trend, it seems one TikTok user 'won' this viral challenge simply by living in in New Zealand, where Covid-19 is largely under control. "Before corona," wrote user @lbadie alongside a mirror selfie, following the trend's before-and-after format. Suddenly, blue strobe lights and jumping crowds fill the screen. "SIKE this is life in NZ currently," she wrote.
The video quickly went viral, garnering more than 5.2 million views and 1.1 million 'likes' since its November 1 upload, sparking envy and disbelief. "This could be us but ya'll playin," commented user @heybriajones. "I don't think it's physically possible to feel more jealous than I am right now ..." added @buaunaballmusic. Yet this video was no anomaly. On November 6-7, the Ohakune Mardi Gras 2020 music festival took place in the nation's northern region, resulting in arguably some of the year's most surreal photos.
In a world largely governed by highly necessary and life-saving restrictions -- mask mandates, social distancing requirements, and compulsory quarantine periods, the images of a jumping sweaty crowd are haunting, a terrifying reminder of what we lost. In November alone, the United States has boasted three million new cases of Covid-19 as hospitalizations hit record highs, CNN reported. Utah hospitals are now informally rationing care, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Intensive care units in Arizona are at 90% capacity, local NBC affiliate, KPNX reported. In Illinois, doctors recently estimated that as many as one in 15 Chicagoians have coronavirus. As bleak as the state of our nation may seem, some doctors warn that things may only get worse, fearing the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday could be a super spreader event, sparking an surge of new coronavirus cases similar to the increase of illnesses after Canadian Thanksgiving in October.
As @lbadie wrote in her caption, "living in NZ is the biggest flex of 2020" -- but it doesn't have to be. Countries including Vietnam, Taiwan, and Singapore have all garnered praise for effectively managing the virus. Over the summer, images of a massive pool party in Wuhan, China went viral, depicting a crowd of thousands dancing without a mask in sight in the same region where experts say the virus first began spreading last year.
Although the United States faces unique challenges in beating Covid-19, like lack of accessible healthcare, and a stalling second stimulus deal, experts say we can still manage the spread of coronavirus. There is still hope if our nation commits to "the transparent use of data tracking the virus at all levels" and embracing the 3 W's of controlling the virus, wearing a mask, washing hands, and watching your distance to others, PBS reported. As Ryan Panchadsaram, co-founder of covidexitstrategy.com told the publication, "To beat this virus, we can't give up."
As we continue to wait for our government to get their shit together, there are still steps we can take to make the upcoming winter holidays as safe as possible. Sport a mask. Clean your hands. Steer clear of large crowds. Stay at least six feet apart from other people. Avoid travel. Consider hosting virtual holiday celebrations. If you do choose to meet in person, limit attendees, keep your distance, and see if you can move your gathering outside. Yes, it certifiably sucks, but to paraphrase the new adage swirling through social media and the news, better a Zoom Thanksgiving than an ICU Christmas.
So readers, I implore you, please be safe this year -- if the wellbeing of your loved ones isn't enough to persuade you, think of all the New Zealand-level raves we can safely attend once this is all over.