Lines Never Felt So Good: Crowd Herald New York Re-Inaugurated

The line outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, down the rain-swept stairs, around the trees and behind the fountains and the hot-dog stands on Fifth Avenue as visitors waited under dripping umbrellas. He was among the more than 10,000 people who had the same idea of ​​filling up on a rainy Sunday in New York City, turning the holiday weekend into the museum’s busiest week since the onset of the epidemic.

At Greenwich Village, jazz fans lined up to join Smalls, A dimly lit basement club with a low ceiling where they can cut off their heads and tap their feet for 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 type of New York rainy day tradition: getting in line to watch art, listen to music, and catch movies, in a way, feeling liberated after more than a year of pandemics. A growing number of vaccinated New Yorkers, with recent relaxations in several coronovirus 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 yellowed out. movie theaters.

For 18-year-old Piper Baron, a return to films felt surprisingly normal.

“It felt as if there had not been an epidemic,” she said.

Standing under the marquee of Cobble Hill Cinemas in Baron, Brooklyn, and three friends who had recently graduated high school were waiting to see “Cruella, The new Emma Stone film about the “One Hundred and One Dalmatian” 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. “This is a milestone.”

In recent weeks, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has relaxed a number of coronovirus restrictions limiting culture and entertainment, and Memorial Day weekend was one of the first opportunities to try new rules, including a growing number of tourists and vaccines Was imposed 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 Spokesman Kenneth Wein said. .

Despite the almost continuous rain, museum visitors and moviegoers agreed: it was much better than what they did at Memorial Day weekend last year. (“Nothing, just stayed home,” recalled Sharon Lebovitz, who visited the Met with her brother on Sunday.)

Of course, the epidemic is not over yet: an average of 383 cases per day Reporting in New York City, But this is 47 percent lower than the two-week average. And everywhere there were physical reminders of the epidemic. At Cobble Hill Cinemas, there was a temperature check and guarantee that there would be four vacant lots around each occupied seat. In the season, a security staffer asked visitors waiting in line for the popular Alice Neil Exhibition To stand ahead of each other.

And, everywhere, there were masks, even if Mr. Cuomo picks up indoor Masks are mandatory for those vaccinated in most cases earlier this month. Most museums in the city remain masked rules 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 Ostrow, who was investigating Cyprus’ antiques 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 upwards over its mouth, which is like a mask.

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 needs to be set six feet apart indoors, meaning that many museums have set their 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, the comedy cellar, which is selling tickets to vaccinated people and with a negative coronavirus test within 24 hours, had to add an additional show because There was such a high 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). Reopening to the public was nothing short of therapeutic, he said, especially because most people were grateful to just 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 primarily as a bar and restaurant with casual music, club owner Spike Wilner said. 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 sort of Tolstoy novel: Crash and Redemption and then Renovation,” he said while shepherding audience members to a jazz club. “To be honest, I am feeling positive for the first time. I am relieved to work and earn some money.”

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