We all follow the unspoken rules of parties. Steal someone’s drink? Opened, half-full, and uncomfortably warm: fair game. Boxed RTDs in the lounge corner behind the couch? Drink hand sanitiser, scab. To be fair, there’s really no consequence if you step out of line—just let it be known you’re a bit of a dickhead. But Covid has rewritten the rulebook. So, after almost 4 months inside (for the lawful, at least) we’re experiencing some hefty social doof-doof gathering-related culture shock. Https://covid19.govt.nz/ doesn’t really say anything about vape-sharing etiquette (fuck reading between the lines), and you’re taking the piss if you think I’m following @uniteagainstcovid19 for clues. It’s time we unmask some of the iffy party hijinks floating around. You can be the judge, jury, and executioner of whether these acts get the greenlight, or whether they should be pfizer-ed out at your next 100 person gathering. Or for every one you’ve done take a shot (you pick the poison).
This should be a no-brainer, right? The Ola dropped you at some janky, Dunedin-esque flat. Proudly blu-tacked to the entrance sits the flat’s custom Covid location QR code. Before you’ve even debated whether this shithole deserves the shoes-off treatment, you’ve hit a new social protocol dilemma. You’re confused: “Is this Covid-location scan thing serious or is this a gag?” (it’s both, probably), “Oh fuck, did I need a Covid scan-in for my flat-warming?” (would’ve added to the décor, yes), and “Is it gay to Covid scan-in to your homie’s flat party?” (sure, why not?).
Honestly though, it’s such a non-issue to scan-in on a DIY QR code. Even if it’s a piss take, it’s so low effort but potentially high reward (of limiting Covid). If you scan in, meet up with your mates, and find out you’re the only one that took the QR code seriously, who cares? No one, unless you’re the weird conspiracy guy at the party. Relax about looking a bit dumb after resorting to manual sign-in when the QR code fails. Surely, it is better to have scanned-in for the Bit, than to have not scanned at all.
I admit this one is tricky. You should be wearing that damn mask on the dance floor under current restrictions. But in practice, mask-wearing is so context dependent—it’s a balancing act between social awareness and risking a deadly disease. You’ve scanned the crowd for what the go is with everyone else at the party and surprise, surprise, not a mask in sight. But you still feel the guilt once you take it off. Even if you do commit to the mask, it’s a struggle. Finally having the chance to show off your whore fit after months inside, only to have the fugliest mask ruin the look (can’t pair shit with those blue ones). And it would make anyone an anti-mask Karen to spend hours getting ready at pres, only to smear $35 worth of MAC lipstick on the mask in the Uber en-route to the party. But of course, the driver let their entire schnozzle hang outside their mask so what the fuck was the point.
To hoon or not to hoon? That’s the question a few drinks into a Wednesday night. For those with supervised visitation rights with their flatmate’s vape, a stranger’s Alt. is a lifesaver at a party. But gone are the days of walking up to a complete random, all nonchalant and innocent with the casual “Hey, what flavour’s that? Reckon I could have a hoon? Yeah, yeah, of course I’ve tried Pina Colada Energy Drink™ 50 nic before.” What used to be a bonding ritual between strangers is now a potential MIQ sentence. My head (and my lungs) tells me Covid carries the possibility of chronic fatigue, death, and fucked tastebuds for months. But my heart tells me that Covid could taste like cherry cola ice :). These days, if I’m gonna risk it, I’m careful with my selection. I’m thinking whoever is wearing a mask inside would politely tell you to get fucked if you asked. But anyone who’s been lipping the Kings cup seems like they’re asking to get sick.
I’m not gonna lie champ, if you’re doing this you deserve whatever punishment Brian Tamaki is getting—so, just a warning? I’m stoked to say my 21st speeches haven’t been this bad (if you’re reading this Linda, I’m still not sorry). I’ve only second-hand cringed at others’ experiences: fidgeting uncomfortably with Pals in hand, silently begging for that one King’s boy to just fucking yell “FINISH IT” already so you can scull your drink and try forget that trainwreck of a speech. If I’m at a 21st I’m not here to listen to some shit political take. And I don’t care if “it was for the bit” or a bit too honest. No one wants to hear you joke about needing a 10th booster for the next party, or sarcastically thank Jacinda for FiNaLLy setting us free. No one’s turning anti-mandate from your vaccine-gone-wrong “and everybody clapped” yarn somehow linked to your 11-year friendship. A 21st speech is the opportunity to relive one’s greatest moments, embarrass a beloved mate, or realise you haven’t been that close since year 12 English. It’s not the chance to grab the mic and proclaim the right to party = freedom from masks. That’ll get you kicked right out of Lula’s Inn.
Covid hasn’t been kind to the party experience. It’s a new social arena fresh with opportunities for social anxiety and public health emergencies. But with the bad, let’s also see the good. There’s never been a more legit excuse than a global pandemic to forgo town or to think twice about hooking up with a fresher during O-Week. Next time you’re at rager take it all in: the drunk bathroom hookups, the brushes with a deadly virus in every Deep & Meaningful, the inevitable ‘Mr Brightside’ played from UE booms. Make it last — cause have you seen today’s case numbers? All I can say is enjoy it while you can.