No, Darklands 2020 in Antwerp wasn’t completely carefree. There were already signs of the coronavirus, as COVID-19 was usually called back then. But still, it was the last dance. The last major gay event in Belgium. A few days later, on Friday 13 March 2020, the Government announced the first coronavirus countermeasures.
The festival and fair for men who have sex with men (MSM) who are into kinks and fetishes was less crowded than usual. Mostly partygoers from the Americas and Asia didn’t attend. Italy and Brazil were hotspots. The organisation received 600 cancellations. Darklands almost got cancelled altogether.
I remember there being hand sanitizer displays everywhere. People used them. People washed their hands more thoroughly when going for a wee.
Masks were worn, but only the kinky and fun kind. People hugged, people kissed each other hello, people had sex.
Corona was a conversation topic, but obviously attendees weren’t really worried. There were there.
At least five Darklands attendees reported afterwards having COVID-19. We know at least one, Daniel Dumont (61), succumbed to the virus.
We know so much more now. Our expectations are very different now as well. Corona really is a big disruption.
So it’s been a year since we could party. Or experience any mass gathering for that matter. It will come back. But how and when? Who knows.
I remember specialists – already at the stat of this pandemic – say we should expect two years of disruption. We’re halfway now.
So big concerts, festivals, prides, party’s and sporting events wíth public still seem far away.
I wonder how long it will take for these sectors and audiences’ confidence to restore.
What do you think?