David Byrne curates new club experience with COVID-19 guidelines



Jaeden Pinder, Staff Writer

Not long after his acclaimed Broadway run and film adaptation of “American Utopia,” David Byrne is back to curate a new socially distanced club experience at Park Avenue Armory, aptly named “SOCIAL!”

Alongside set designer Christine Jones (“Spring Awakening,” “The Green Bird”) and choreographer Steven Hoggett (“Once,” “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”) the trio has created a playlist that has been mixed by Natasha Diggs for attendees to enjoy and dance along to. Yasmine Lee (“Once,” “The Crucible”) is also a member of the team, handling additional choreography.

Jones and Hoggett have previously worked together on the musical “American Idiot” and the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” with Jones receiving the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical/Play for both shows.

Diggs is known for her work as a DJ and has collaborated with A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, neo-soul singer Erykah Badu, and the R&B icon Ms. Lauryn Hill.

The event will take place from April 9-22. Tickets are extremely limited, and only 100 attendees are allowed at each show, following social distancing guidelines.

Unfortunately, all tickets have sold out, and with the already limited engagement and schedule, the possibilities of extended dates are currently unknown.

“SOCIAL!” is a part of the Park Avenue Armory’s Social Distance Hall program, which has sought to commission dance, theater, and music experiences that chronicle their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The first engagement, “Afterwardsness,” included work by renowned choreographer Bill T. Jones and the third “Party in the Bardo” will feature the work of musicians Laurie Anderson and Jason Moran. This new experience could pave way for how clubs and nightlife will be organized for the foreseeable future.

According to their website, Park Avenue Armory is being extremely thorough and mindful in following regulations and guidelines for COVID-19.

Upon arrival, all attendees are to be rapid tested on-site, have their temperature checked and wear a mask at all times. Each set is 55 minutes and participants are allotted spaces on the floor that are 12–15 feet apart in the 55,000 square foot space.

Best known for his work as a part of the new wave band the Talking Heads, Byrne has always been connected to New York, and this is no exception.

New Yorkers can expect the quirks and eccentricities of Byrne to shine through in “SOCIAL!” Ticketholders have been sent a video with choreography by Byrne to learn before getting to the event.

Attendees are encouraged to dance, and if they wish to, Byrne’s voice will play over the set, encouraging ticketholders to follow along with dance moves, à la 80’s aerobics class instructor.

For New Yorkers who miss nightlife, “SOCIAL!” can breathe new life and hope into the eventual reopening of the city, alongside the current vaccine rollout.

Park Avenue Armory’s website reads, “Moving free-form or in sync with the spoken choreography, audience members take part in a communal moment of cathartic release.”

While an experiment in finding the balance between safety and satisfaction, “SOCIAL!” is sure to be an exhilarating and electrifying dance party to relish in.