Line outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, down rain-swept stairs, around trees and out doors behind fountains and hot-dog stands on Fifth Avenue as visitors waited under dripping umbrellas . They were among more than 10,000 people who had the same idea of filling a rainy Sunday in New York City, turning the holiday weekend into the museum’s busiest weekend since the start of the pandemic.
In Greenwich Village, jazz fans lined up to attend smalls, a dimly lit basement club with a low ceiling where they can nod their heads and tap their feet to live music. All five limited-capacity screenings of Fellini’s “8 ½” sold out at the Film Forum on Houston Street on Monday, and when the comedy cellar sold five shows, a sixth was added to it.
If rainy, wintry Memorial Day weekend meant that there were barbecue and beach trips Was called, it revived another kind of New York rainy day tradition: queuing up to see art, listen to music and catch movies, in a way feeling liberating after more than a year of the pandemic. The increasing number of vaccinated New Yorkers, coupled with the recent easing of many coronavirus restrictions, made for a dramatic and pleasant change from Memorial Day last year, when museums sat completely empty, silencing nightclubs. Was given, and faded, the old posters slowly took off. movie theaters.
For 18-year-old Piper Baron, a return to the movies felt surprisingly normal.
“It felt as if there had not been an epidemic,” she said.
Standing under the marquee of Cobble Hill Cinemas in Baronne, Brooklyn, and three friends who had recently graduated high school were waiting to be seen “Cruella“One Hundred and One Dalmatians”, the new Emma Stone movie about the villain. Prior to the epidemic, the group had a habit of watching movies together on Fridays after school, but that tradition was put on hold during the epidemic.
“We haven’t done that in a long time – but here we are,” said Patrick Martin, 18 years old. “It’s a milestone.”
In recent weeks, the government’s Andrew M. Cuomo has eased many of the coronavirus restrictions limiting culture and entertainment, and Memorial Day weekend was one of the first opportunities to try out the new rules, with increasing numbers of tourists and Was vaccinated. Yorkers are looking forward to the heat of activity.
The Met, on Saturday and Sunday each, attracted more than 10,000 visitors, a record for the museum during the epidemic, and was logging for nearly two months before the state loosened capacity restrictions, one of the museum’s Spokesperson Kenneth Wein said. .
Despite the nearly incessant rain, museum visitors and movie-goers agreed: It was much better than what they did over Memorial Day weekend last year. (“Nothing, just stayed home,” recalled Sharon Lebovitz, who visited the Met with her brother on Sunday.)
And when the sun came out on Monday, so did the people, as crowds beat the old days along the High Line in Chelsea.
Of course, the epidemic is not over yet: an average of 383 cases per day Reporting in New York City, But it is 47 percent lower than the average two weeks ago. And there were physical reminders of the pandemic everywhere. At Cobble Hill Cinemas, there were temperature checks and guarantees that there would be four empty surrounds of each occupied seat. In season, a security worker asked visitors waiting in line for the popular Alice Neill Exhibition To stand ahead of each other.
And, everywhere, there were masks, even if Mr. Cuomo Picked Up The Indoor Masks are mandatory for those vaccinated in most cases earlier this month. Most of the city’s museums are keeping the mask rule in place for now, assuming that not all visitors will be comfortable being surrounded by a sea of naked faces.
“It’s definitely not back to normal,” said 70-year-old Steven Ostro, who was investigating Cypriot antiquities at the Met.
“If that were the case, we wouldn’t look like Bazooka Joe,” he said A bubble gum-rapper comic strip featuring a character Whose turtleneck is pulled upward over its mouth, mask-like.
And in the Museum of Modern Art, a discount of up to 35 percent was being given on the sale of masks at the gift shop, perhaps a sign that caution may be taken.
Although the state has removed the explicit capacity limit for museums and other cultural sites, it still requires a six-foot separation inside the house, meaning that many museums have set their own limits on how many tickets to sell each hour Can. And some have retained the capacity limits of previous months, including the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which put visitors at 50 percent and El Museo del Barrio at 33 percent.
Places that allow only vaccinated guests can overcome the needs of social distances, which is proving to be an attractive option for venue owners eager to pack their smaller venues. And there seems to be no shortage of vaccinated audience members: On Monday, Comedy Cellar, which is selling tickets to those vaccinated and with a negative coronavirus test within 24 hours, had to add an extra show because There was so much demand.
No one was more pleased to see the rows of visitors than the owners of the venue, who spent the last year eating through their savings, retrenching staff and eagerly waiting for federal pandemic relief.
During the lockdown, Andrew Elgart, whose family owns Cobble Hill Cinemas, said he occasionally watched movies with his terrier only for company alone in the theater (though not popcorn, though – to reboot the machine It was too much work). The reopening to the public was nothing short of therapeutic, he said, especially because most people were simply grateful to be there.
“These are the most polite and patient customers we’ve had in a long time,” he said.
Reopening has been slow for music venues, who book talent months in advance, and those who say the economics of reopening with social take away restrictions are impractical.
Those capacity limitations and social elimination requirements have kept most of the city’s jazz clubs closed for now, but Small is an exception in the village. In fact, the club was so eager to reopen at any capacity level that it briefly tried in February, positioning itself as a bar and restaurant with predominantly casual music, said club owner Spike Wilner. He said that heavy fines and red tape continued as a result of this decision.
Still, for Wilner, there was no comparison between this year and the last, when he was “hiding” in a rented house in Pennsylvania with his wife and young daughter.
“It sounds like some kind of Tolstoy novel: There’s Crash and Redemption and then there’s Renewal,” he said while shepherding audience members at the jazz club. “To be honest, I feel positive for the first time. I am relieved to work and earn some money.”
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