In June, I announced an open call for selfies taken at The Crown, a favorite bar/venue in Station North. As soon as you see a Crown selfie on your IG feed, you can tell where the photo was taken. And if you’ve been to The Crown, you’ve probably taken one too. I’ve taken a bunch that I’ve sadly lost on an older iPhone. I appreciate those who submitted photos—it was nice to gaze into the space I love so much in the background.
When the selfies first started coming in, I was feeling a lot of joy and hope as my sense of doom and loss was dissolving. Earlier this week, however, I saw a map of the United States depicting the number of COVID cases in July, next to a map showing the current cases as of August 10. Across the graphic, a mass of red bled, signaling the spread of the delta variant. I have roots in Arkansas, and yesterday I saw a headline that said that in the entire state of Arkansas, the number of available hospital ICU beds has been reduced to eight. I’m sure when you read this, these statistics will be even dimmer.
Since March 2020, I have mourned the loss of live shows and entertainment in Baltimore. I used to attend shows at The Crown, Ottobar, and Rituals all the time. We had so much hope a few months ago with more vaccines becoming available. And again, when I set out to write this, I intended it to be an exciting “welcome back” to The Crown, an homage to our old lives that were filled with drinks, kimchi fries, flirting, dancing, karaoke, and being able to once again share space safely with people we had been separated from for months.
Last week, Baltimore City reinstated the indoor mask mandate, and since then I’ve seen a number of events that I was looking forward to canceled due to safety concerns. I am unsure, as all of us are unsure, about what the future holds for concertgoers and bar patrons, but the more critical question is what does the future hold for those venues, bars, and clubs that facilitate the communion of music and crowd?