Everything You Can Expect From A Socially Distanced Gig

Grazia heads to a socially distanced arena has been set up in Newcastle - and it's more fun than you might think.

virgin money unity arena socially distanced gig

by Bonnie McLaren |

One of the biggest things I’ve missed this summer is live music. With no festivals, no stadium tours, and no small midweek gigs, thousands of people have been out of work - and, for me, a summer which would usually be filled with glitter and my favourite bands has been replaced with binge watching Selling Sunset and Normal People in a darkened room.

The events industry has taken probably one of the biggest hits of all from coronavirus - but, if you want to see live music in the UK, thanks to the world's first socially distanced arena, you now can. You’ve probably seen the video of the set up - 500 platforms in front of a stage, which look a little bit like cages - which went viral earlier this week. For those who haven't experienced it, the response has been like marmite; it's either your dream or a nightmare.

My favourite part of the video is that you can hear somebody say, 'I thought it'd be a car crash.' And to be honest, when I was invited a couple of weeks to see what the gigs would be like, my first thoughts were similar. But, because of how much I missed dancing in a field, I said yes - despite my hesitations that it'd be nowhere near as fun as a normal day festival in London, like Lovebox or Community.

But, after a three hour train from London's Kings Cross, I was very pleasantly surprised attending the Two Door Cinema Club (hello, 2011 throwback) gig at the Virgin Money Unity Arena on Saturday. While it was undeniably different to normal, it turned out to be one of my favourite ever gigs. If you're not local, and you're up for travelling, I'd highly recommend it. (It's about the same price of a day festival; tickets start at £25.00 per person, with a £20.00 surcharge to reserve your viewing area.)

Here's what I actually preferred about a socially distanced concert:

  1. The atmosphere was electric because everyone was so bloody excited to be seeing music again. Despite the distance, people of all ages were still waving and screaming the lyrics at each other from the platforms. At a festival, there’s usually a mix of fans of whoever’s playing, people who know one song and people who are just waiting for the next act - but because you're paying to see one band, everyone knew the entire setlist back to front. (Side note: the set list was the best I've seen from Two Door over the years.) Yes, I missed not being in a crowd, but it didn’t feel as surreal being spaced away from everyone as I thought it would.
  1. You can actually see the stage. As a 5ft4 woman, this is a novelty.
  1. The gigs are in Newcastle - and it’s just a known fact that people are friendlier up north.
  1. You don’t have to queue for hours at the bar - and then lose your spot in the crowd to someone who has fought tooth and nail to get to the front.
  1. The platforms have chairs in them - being able to dance, but then pass out into a chair really is the best of both worlds.
  1. There’s room to dance without accidentally knocking your elbow in someone's eye. Also, as a woman, it’s sad but one of the best things is you don’t have to encounter any unwelcome advances or groping - which is without a doubt the worst thing about attending gigs. And as someone who chain smokes when they’ve had a bit too much to drink, I could happily smoke on my platform - which is something I definitely wouldn’t do in the middle of a crowd.
  1. But finally, most importantly, it actually felt safe. Staff, wearing masks, were constantly checking to make sure we maintained social distancing. And when I was dancing a bit too much, I was politely told to get back in to my pod. And I didn't even mind.

If you want to know more about socially distanced gigs, then visit here.

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