Quarantine Improved my Social Life by Aaron Moore

I was one of those strict quarantine people.  It mostly stemmed from the massive uncertainty at the beginning of the shutdown and my general nature toward rule-following.  I didn’t step foot in a grocery store from March 2020 to April 2021.  No outdoor walks with anyone but my husband.  And Christmas with the family—travel cancelled and moved online.

For me, this actually improved my social life.  Freed from commutes, business travel, and the built-in obligations of life, I was pretty much available every evening and weekend.  I filled much of this with improv.  From drop-ins, dramatic, and Shakespeare…I tried it all.  Best of all, Zoom offered a way to connect with my classmates in ways that were different than in-person classes.  Seeing people so frequently brought a familiarity that was comforting.  Being in a Zoom session is like sitting next to everyone in a class, with chat as a way to get to know people that isn’t possible during in-person classes.

So, what does all of this mean for moving back to in-person improv?  As someone who has thrived in lockdown, it’s a serious question for me.  In the “before times” I wouldn’t take a weeknight class because the logistics of getting from work to class felt complicated and exhausting.  Now, I know that the social interaction, friendship and fun of classes is a priority for me and want to make it happen.

But what about the actual act of being around people again?  Although I’m doing more, my lockdown life has become my norm.  How would I feel about being around people again inside and without masks? {gulp}

Well, it turns out that Held2gether had that all thought through in a way that made me—the ultra-lockdown guy—comfortable.  June 12 was the first in-person class for song improv and before, during and after class I felt safe, cared for, and respected.  The decision to require vaccinations for class registration went a long way toward that. That made me know that all my fellow students had done what they could to protect themselves and others.  There was not a mask requirement—in alignment with CDC guidelines—that actually helped get me more comfortable with that current guidance.

The rules were laid out clearly ahead of time—show your proof of vaccination the first day, wear a mask if it makes you feel more comfortable, spread out in the seating at least for the first day, and we’d have an open discussion on day one to gauge where individual comfort levels were.  Classmates were open and honest about what made them feel safe.  Some wanted elbow-bump greetings, others were freely receiving hugs but waiting to be invited to give them.  Seats were sanitized before and after class.  And individual comfort with personal space was shared.  There was total consensus that scene partners shouldn’t lick each other’s faces—well, at least until week two—although I suspect this will become a permanent rule for all time and eternity, amen.  ?

All this to say, I arrived at class knowing we were going to have the important conversation about safety.  We had this in a way that I felt heard and freed me to enjoy the time with existing and new friends.  And I left feeling energized, content, and looking forward to next week’s class—exactly the feelings that drew me to improv in the first place.  And that felt really good.

Hope to see you in class soon.