Before Philly shut down, they just wanted to have fun
“On Twitter and Instagram, I feel like all I see is don’t go out, isolate yourself,” the 21-year-old said. “Obviously no one who is here cares.”
Their moms told them not to go out. Their grandparents are self-isolating. But these 20-something-year-olds were jumping under the strobe lights and taking shots with friends.
The ball pit, what underground club Concourse Dance Bar in Center City is known for, was closed. But the mosh pit of a dance floor was open.
Mayor Jim Kenney shut down nonessential businesses on Monday due to the rapid spread of coronavirus, so Concourse will be dark for the near future. But on Saturday, with colleges classes going online and businesses in surrounding counties closed, there were signs people were aware of the pandemic, hand sanitizer in fanny packs, medical gloves in purses, a bartender wearing a mask. At Concourse, they just wanted to have fun.
“We’re going to the dance floor. We’re going to the back. Will you meet us? Will you pinkie promise us you’ll meet us in the back?" a friend asked Vanessa Logaras, 21.
“Yeah, I promise,” Logaras said wrapping her pinkie around her friend’s.
Logaras, of Old Bridge, N.J., and a UPS sorter, feels like she reads “the facts" that most people who are affected by the coronavirus are older, so being out wasn’t a risk. Her grandma isn’t seeing anyone right now anyway.
Even a few days ago, Logaras and her friend booked a flight to Miami for the weekend of March 28. It was only $90 and if it is canceled, she gets her money back.
“On Twitter and Instagram, I feel like all I see is don’t go out, isolate yourself,” she said. “Obviously no one who is here cares.”
The people out Saturday night seemed to think that because they are young, they are not likely to die from this and could go on with life, more or less, as they had before.
But experts say this is a bad idea. Everyone — young, old, sick, healthy — should be observing social distancing.
“Please stay calm,” Gov. Tom Wolf urged Pennsylvanians on Friday, “and by all means, stay home.”
Bryan Rodriguez, 22, opened his fanny pack off the side of the dance floor and pointed out his hand sanitizer. He is a senior biology major and chemistry minor at Rowan University and said he understands the public health risks associated with the coronavirus.
But as long as he follows basic hygiene, and so do his friends, he thinks they should be OK.
“I am more prone getting it while working than I am getting it outside,” Rodriguez, who is a transport orderly at Inspira Medical Center in Vineland, said. “I take care of patients and I’m always around patients that could or not have coronavirus."
Lindsey Jackson, 23, from Upper Deerfield, N.J., also knows the risks associated with the coronavirus. She’s in medical school at Rowan University, hoping to be a neurosurgeon one day. She opened her purse while wearing a green light up bracelet on her right hand for St. Patrick’s Day, and pointed out her two hand sanitizers and her medical gloves.
When their friend group is on the dance floor, Jackson said they try to find gaps so they can keep their distance from others.
“I still feel like I have a good time,” Jackson said. “I feel confident as long as you wash your hands and be mindful of what you’re doing then I feel like you’ll be fine."
While the Concourse dance floor was busy, the area outside of it was pretty empty.
“This is dead for us, not as many people,” said bartender Bree Ceglia, 29.
Still, enough people were coming out that Ceglia was working. For the first time, she decided to wear a mask.
Her immune system is weak, she said. She usually gets the flu twice a year: in the fall when it turns cold and in the spring when it gets warm.
“I feel OK, but I have a compromised immune system," Ceglia said. "You get touched accidentally, spit on a little when people order drinks, you’re dealing with money. Money is one of the dirtiest things.”
Health officials have warned people with weakened immune systems to take extra precautions, but Raymond Gorman, 25, said he didn’t want to be shut off from his social life.
Gorman, of South Philadelphia, had a kidney transplant six months ago and takes tacrolimus, an immunosuppressive so his body wouldn’t reject the organ.
He doesn’t think people should be scared of going out, saying “the media hypes it up a lot."
“There’s not many cases in Philadelphia, it’s only like three or four. As long as you keep your distance you’ll be OK," Gorman said while drinking a pineapple vodka and celebrating his friend’s 26th birthday.
“You don’t want to stay in the house and not live your life."
Though Logaras felt that same way Saturday night, she changed her mind Sunday. Her dad kept telling her how the coronavirus is more serious than she thought. New Jersey, her state, has instituted a curfew. Philadelphia ordered all nonessential businesses to shut down at 5 p.m. Monday. She decided to cancel her flight to Miami.
She doesn’t regret going out Saturday, but said she isn’t doing that again soon.
“Now I think it is more serious than what I thought,” she said. “It is kind of like that night it was not reality and now it is."