Event promoters, nightclub owners and barkeeps seem to be fiddling while Michigan burns with Covid fever.
Drinking and dancing spots host holiday eve events Wednesday night with DJs, splashy listings and pitches such as "time to party" and "celebration."
Business owners are eager to revive a tradition of Thanksgiving Eve crowds as students back from college, out-of-town visitors and others kick off a long weekend and holiday months. Last November, the governor issued an order the week before Thanksgiving that prohibited indoor service at bars and restaurants for three weeks.
Twelve months later, some spots want to let the good times roll again despite a fourth surge in pandemic cases.
"It's the biggest bar night of the year, and kids are home from school, all that fun stuff," Nemo's Bar manager Patrick Osman in Detroit is quoted by the Free Press as saying. "And the Wings always play. It's a great night to see people you haven't seen in a long time."
At another end of the spectrum, the theme of a 9 p.m. Wednesday soiree at Birmingham's Townsend Hotel is a stark example of some people's mood after 20 months of masks, restrictions and caution: "C'est La Vie" is the name of a ballroom event sponsored by La French Platinum Vodka and Paragon Entertainment. (The French phrase for "that's life" is an English idiom expressing acceptance or resignation -- equivalent to oh well or so it goes or shit happens).
Let's drink vodka and dance near strangers, in other words, for who knows what tomorrow holds.
It's raw material for histories of an American health crisis, a chapter that could be titled "Heedless Hedonism."
For now, medical professionals warn of potential risks from holiday season crowds indoors, even in homes -- particularly if unsure of others' vaccination status or possible exposure.
"If you think you’ve been exposed, if you haven’t been vaccinated or if you’ve got symptoms for the love of Pete get tested and do NOT go to a bar or a Thanksgiving gathering this week," pleads a Monday tweet from Ruthanne Sudderth, a senior vice president of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association in Lansing.
Bridge Michigan relays that sense of urgency in a holiday week roundup:
Health officials are begging people to once more play it smart, mask up and even stay home.
That some folks may pack bars and restaurants this week is mind-boggling to those in public health who have spent the better part of 20 months asking Michiganders to stay safe.
A physician at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Dr. Justin Skrzynski, tells the Freep why even bars full of resilient young adults can create "a big chance for super spreader events:"
"We don't expect to see the elderly at bar night, but what we do have is people who are going to be getting potential Covid exposures, and then going to visit elderly or ill relatives who had been previously sheltering, previously isolating to avoid Covid exposure.
"That is, unfortunately, a great way to bring Covid to communities and households [that] were previously secluded from that."
Among a dozen-plus local event listings we click, just one says anything about showing a vaccination card -- UFO Factory on Trumbull Avenue in Corktown, where three bands play from 9 p.m. to 1 p.m. tonight, posts: "You must bring proof of vaccination (take a pic on your phone) or a recent negative covid test (within 72 hours of event) for entry."
Most drink businesses encourage, but don't require, servers to be vaccinated, the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association's director told Bridge this week.
Wednesday's blowouts are "a pretty high-risk situation [for the unvaccinated], especially right now, in terms of our community numbers," Dr. Skrzynski says in the Freep article.
"Incidence is way up, percent positivity is way up. That indicates that there's a much greater chance that wherever you go in the community, there could be Covid present."
And from Ann Arbor, Dr. Matthew Wasco, a St. Joseph Mercy Hospital pathologist, tweets Monday: "I am just hoping that anyone with any hint of symptoms or concerns of infection stays away from family gatherings this week. Hospitals are very, very busy."
Amid the warning flags, these nine Detroit bars sites Thanksgiving Eve parties:
♦ Trust: DJs, $20 cover, 10 p.m. start
♦ Legends: 8 p.m., "Biggest Bar Night of the Year" party
♦ Level Two Bar & Rooftop: DJ, $60 after 8:30 p.m.
♦ The Annex: 4 DJs, 10 p.m. start, "time to party the night before you join the fam and get fat!"
♦ Russell Industrial Center: "Bruiser Thanksgiving with Danny Brown," 9 p.m. hip-hop show, $35
♦ The Marble Bar: 3 DJs, 10 p.m.
♦ Garden Theater: 9 p.m., ninth annual "Welcome Home" party for "business professionals, trendsetters and socialites"
♦ Bleu Detroit: 10 p.m.
♦ Deluxx Fluxx: DJ Andre Power, co-founder of Soulection, 10 p.m.