From Zoom to house party: New Year celebrations move indoors owing to COVID-19 night curfew

For many, the highlight of 2020 is perhaps the fact that it is ending shortly. While a lot of us had plans of saying good-bye to this challenging year with parties and night-outs, the coronavirus has once again played spoilsport. This year, Mumbaikars will have to content themselves with small groups (no more than four people) and visits to restaurants, pubs and the like will end far before the stroke of midnight.

Recently, Maharashtra government issued notifications stating that New Year celebrations would be heavily curtailed by a night curfew. While the jaded folks of 2020 are no stranger to curfews and lockdowns, there was uncertainty about the extent of this particular set of restrictions. Multiple clarifications followed, and as things stand now, gatherings of five or more people are prohibited from 11 pm to 6 am. Establishments such as pubs, restaurants and theatres will close at 11 pm — a fact that has prompted some to decide that they will be ringing in the new year at 10:30 pm (Mumbaikars are pros at jugaad)!

Often dubbed the city that never sleeps or ‘maximum city’, Mumbaikars usually celebrate the new year in spectacular ways, with clubs, theme parks and hotels offering up an array of dazzling events. Unfortunately, while a Google search for ‘new year parties in Mumbai’ once overwhelmed us with options, it now begins with a warning that COVID-19 may play spoilsport to the best laid plans. Lockdown aside, many of Mumbai’s favourite 31st night haunts continue to remain shut. The Lalit’s Kitty Su, usually a favourite among revellers, is currently not operational. A call to the well-known club reveals that no new year events are slated to take place on December 31. Another option, perhaps slightly better geared towards all age brackets, is EsselWorld’s Bignite bash. This too is unlikely to occur this year, as the amusement park continues to remain non-operational.

So, are house parties the answer?

With clubs and public events curtailed, many are turning to house parties. “It’s going to be a last moment plan like every year. But looking at the current pandemic situation where the government is posing strict laws to close the clubs early on 31st night, I might plan a house party,” explains 25-year old Kartikeya Singh.

Mehul Mange, a resident of Ghatkopar, explains with January 1st being a friend’s father’s birthday, New Year’s Eve parties are a must. This, he explains would be a houseparty involving a group of 15-20 people including family members.

While some are looking forward to meeting family and friends or holding house parties, some have decided to take the safe route — party, but virtually! “Each year me and my mates from school would plan a family outing around Christmas and New Year. But this year none of us are able to travel due to the restrictions and the pandemic. So this year we will all be connecting with each other via Zoom call and bring in the New Year’s online from the safety of our homes,” says Rishit Jhaveri, 42, Diamond trader.

For the uninitiated, a Zoom party is the virtual equivalent of a house get-together, with multiple people logging in through an app and spending some time together — playing games, conversing or even raising a toast to 2021.

“I don’t have plans for a house party or outing at present, but a lot of people I know are planning to hold Zoom parties,” explains Panvel resident Sai Sidhaarth. He says that while some of these people are based out of Mumbai, others on the call will be from cities across the world.

But the desire to hold a party even within the confines of their home, for the most part, seems to be a trend among the younger generation. And for many, the COVID-19 pandemic is not that easily dismissed.

“We are not stepping out, and are not even planning to meet up with our extended family for New Year celebrations. My mother is susceptible, and our family is staying put. There’s no sense in risking your health,” says Amboli resident Sharon D’Mello. She explains that this seems to be the mindset of others she knows – people from the same age bracket.

Each year me and my mates from school would plan a family outing around Christmas and New Year. But this year none of us are able to travel due to the restrictions and the pandemic. So this year we will connect with each other via Zoom call and bring in the New Year’s online from the safety of our homes
Rishit Jhaveri, Diamond trader

It has been a year without compare, with the whole world waiting for normalcy to return. House parties may be the new normal, but the extent to which people will go to celebrate the occasion is determined by COVID-19 fears. As some of the people this author spoke to noted, having seen the havoc created by COVID-19 first hand, many have doubled down on precautionary measures. But, like many other things this year, the conventional description of a house party does not quite fit. After all, even a virtual get together or a small family event fulfils the same desire for interaction. And then, there’s always 2021 to look forward to.

Spruce up your house party!

Hello 2021 India: This YouTube NYE Celebration will see performances by Tiger Shroff, Badshah, Jonita Gandhi, Zakir Khan and many others streamed online. Tune in at 11:00 pm on December 31.

BTS and more: If you're a K-pop fan, here's a chance to catch BTS, NU’EST, GFriend, ENHYPEN and others in action. However, the massive concert that is being put together by Big Hit will take place in Seoul, so it'll be on December 31 evening (at around 6 pm) for Indians. Buy online streaming tickets here: https://campaign.weverseshop.io/nyel/#ticket.

ABRACADABRA New Years 2021: If you just want an exciting soundtrack to boost your year-end mood, how about a livestream that lasts nearly three days and features musicians such as John Legend, Kaskade and Major Lazer? The festival will air from December 30 to January 1 on AbracadabraTV, exclusively available on Twitch site and app.

Times Square Ball Drop: This year, you can watch the New York celebrations live from the cosy confines of your home. Another international event, this will take place around 4 am IST on January 1. (You can download the app and also catch it online at https://nye2021.com/authenticate)

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in