When was the last time you went to a party? For most, the answer would date back to February or perhaps even earlier for those across Asia, before the coronavirus pandemic sent cities around the world into lockdown.
In cities that have tried to get the party started again, the shadow of COVID-19 left nightclubs more resembling an episode of Black Mirror than what we know as a night out; as in one club in the Netherlands, which saw partygoers sat socially-distanced on chairs in the middle of a dancefloor1.
Others found that attempting a return to normality was impossible. Back in May when most of Asia had already moved out of its quarantine phase, nightclubs in Seoul became epicentres in Korea for multiple coronavirus infection cases2.
Seven months since this virus was declared a global pandemic, the nights are still relatively silent; even in the cities that never sleep from New York to London, Amsterdam to Hamburg, Tel Aviv to Tokyo.
For these cities, such as Berlin and its more than 250 nightclubs employing over 9000 people, nightlife may only thrive again after the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available on the market3.
But in the midst of this, virtual partying has reached the mainstream. No longer viewed as an ‘online nerd party’, in quarantine people have gathered online to enjoy good times together in a virtual space, without the limits of physical locations and social distancing.
The original virtual parties – Virtual partying in gaming
While for many this is a fresh concept, virtual partying in fact goes back almost a quarter of a century. The first virtual nightclub can date back to the 1997 video game VNC: The Virtual Nightclub. The revolutionary point-and-click video game integrated ’90s techno rave elements of more than 150 artists, offering gamers a futuristic taste of partying, but in fact did not reach a wide audience upon release4.