Excerpts from an essay in The Guardian:
On Saturday night, for the first time in over a year, I hired a babysitter and took a cab downtown. I’d heard rumours about the parallel realities of different neighbourhoods in New York, divided along lines of age and proximity to bars. It was hard to imagine, however; uptown, in areas heavily populated with families, the streets were and still are mainly empty by 9pm. As I got out of the cab on 14th Street, it was like being dropped into Ayia Napa after spending a year in a monastery...None of which, I have to say, prepared me for the vision of downtown on Saturday night. On the street, a quarter of the crowd was unmasked, a number that dropped to zero inside, save for servers. As we waited in line to get in, a strange split-screen reality took hold. Except for the mandatory temperature check at the door, everything looked precisely as it had two years earlier: large groups of people, hammered enough to be weaving from one side of the pavement to the other, drinking straight from the bottle and yelling at top volume. An ancient feeling resurfaced: wow, I’d forgotten how much I hate going out.