How do you temper your desire for social interaction with fear for your safety and that of others during this time of COVID-19? It is a fine balance, especially for a very social person like myself, who craves human contact. One thing I discovered was even though large gatherings have been cancelled, life hasn’t been, and with common sense, precaution and safety, you can start breaking out of your cell and enjoying yourself.
Let’s begin with wearing masks; this is key and also very easy to do. I do not understand why people find this so hard to deal with; I immediately warmed up to the idea. I love a good accessory and have some great ones done by the talented John Joseph Degadillo (aka Tazia Ballz) and Daryl Dunaway (aka Countess C Alice).
The next consideration is limiting your physical contact, such as greeting without hugging (I know; it’s the one thing I miss most since this all started), and converse from a distance. Just be wary of your surroundings.
How do you eat or drink with a mask on? Well, you obviously can’t, so this is your leap of faith. I have started doing lunch, dinner and drinks with intimate groups of people (six at the most). They are all people I know well and interact with regularly.
Be smart when you are out. I have been to a few of the bars and have felt totally safe watching the staff take extra precautions to make patrons feel protected. Only once did a group of foolish tourists come into a place I was at without masks and acting careless, so I left, no complaints or yelling. I can only be concerned about the things I can control, and the actions of others do not fall into that category; I worry about me.
I wanted to discuss, however, a few of the places I’ve gone to recently that I highly recommend you support. The historic Napoleon House is now open and their muffulettas are just as delicious as I remembered them. Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop has opened in-house dining and it is splendid. The staff is on point and the food is stellar. I had dreams during quarantine of their incredible Mega Gumbo! Speaking of Italian fare, check out long-time favorite Venezia in Mid-City.
Some friends and I dined at Flamingo A-Go-Go for brunch on Sunday in honor of Beaux Church’s birthday. The atmosphere was lively and social distancing was practiced in the most unique way. Several tables in the place were adorned with flamingos decorated in different festive themes such as Tiger King, Mardi Gras, Bachelorette Party and LGBT+ Pride. The tables were fun and reserved for people like Carol Baskin. I especially loved the rainbow table!
Friends and I also exchanged our virtual happy hour for a live one at the fabulous Bywater restaurant Luna Libre whose margaritas are to die for. They have a large backyard space ideal for social distancing.
A small group of us also did a bar crawl in honor of Gay Pride starting at the Phoenix, then going to see the ever-delightful Princess Stephaney at Mags 940. Next, we stopped at Betty’s Bar & Bistro which has the best scenario for social distancing I’ve seen so far in a bar. Within tape outlines, guests can mingle in their area and enjoy each other’s company as well as respect others. When you are in the circle, masks can come off; when you leave to go to the bar or bathroom, masks go back on. Simple but effective. Also, the food there is just as sumptuous as it was before the lockdown. The fried Mac & Cheese Bites are heaven! The last stop on our tour was Crossing NOLA. This has been my only foray into the bar scene; Sunday afternoons seem to be a delightful time too, so venture out even if only tentatively.
Finally, June 24, I attended a memorial marking the 47th anniversary of the UpStairs Lounge fire. The Crescent City Leathermen planned this (socially distant) gathering to commemorate the souls lost and the survivors of this defining moment in our city’s LGBTQ history. The uplifting event drew a very diverse crowd and was covered by local news media. A note of gratitude goes out to CCL for organizing everything. We appreciate everything your organization does for the community.
Until next time, stay safe, wash your hands and wear your mask. Remember it is the accessory that saves lives!