Fueled By Emo, 1/31/20
I read a New York Times article last night that chronicles a single weekend in New York through the lens of the performing arts amidst the COVID pandemic. The loss is vast - one single weekend held what seems like hundreds of performances, from ballet performed in gilded halls to bands raucously selling out underground clubs. Outdoor pavilions would be booked and performance centers would be prepped. No matter the schedule or socioeconomic status, any person in New York could have found a way to indulge in the arts that weekend. This was not the reality. Playwrights who were gearing up to premier their newest (even their first) written works are now instead teaching classes over Zoom or driving for GrubHub. Performers with years of experience and discipline in their craft are now having to dip into their retirement savings. Smaller rehearsal spaces, clubs, and performance centers are barely staying afloat. Many have already closed.
This beautiful, well written article left me feeling deeply bleak. I am not sure they intended to make the reader feel much else, which is okay, because right now there are far more questions than answers. I began to think about all the things I may never get to do, the experiences my partner and I may never have. I've never had a desire to live in New York, but I have dreamed of being able to say that in my life I have shared a kiss under the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, or spent a day sitting in a Brooklyn cafe, or added a Broadway show to my list. It is often hard for me to dream like that. My anxiety occupies my mind in a way that somehow spans the singular day-to-day and the entirety of my potential existence. I worry about plans, but I dream about moments. And as future feels indecipherable, many of my dreams feel wasted.
I am trying with everything in me to be optimistic. That is part of why I came on here to write today. I don't know what live music will look like, but I know what is has been. I know that it is an equalizer that brings people together. I know how cathartic it feels to sing along to your favorite song at the top of your lungs, sardined in a crowd with friends and strangers. I know how intimate it feels to watch a play, a symphony, or a dance so beautifully executed that it feels like there is no one in the room but you and the stage. My relationship with performing has its complications (more on that another day) but music and performance has been a pillar in my life. My parents met in a band - it feels like art has always been a part of my chemical makeup. I will not give up on what which has never given up on me.