There is a term in Portuguese, saudade, which my Portuguese-American sister-in-law tells me has "no absolute English translation." But it is meant to describe "a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves," according to Wikipedia, which also notes that, "Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never be had again." It's safe to say the feelings of saudade are all over the place right now as we hit the one year mark of life in pandemic times. And those final days lived in ignorant bliss are both a salve and melancholic trigger.

The last fun thing I did in pre-pandemic New York City was go to Saturday Night Live, which I've been lucky enough to experience from backstage for years thanks to a friend. I brought my sister-in-law that night, who arrived at my apartment and immediately declared she had been at a party the night before with a woman who just flew back from Wuhan. "Don't freak out," she said. "I didn't get too close to her."

I knocked this piece of information out of my brain with some whisky at Del Frisco's Grille, a pre-SNL ritual for me, enjoyed with their flatbread pizza. Once we were backstage, we made ourselves some drinks and settled in, only heading to the floor for Justin Bieber — who delivered what would be the last live music performance I'd see for a year and counting.

The afterparty — though hosted in a larger space than some of the previous ones — was particularly crowded, and I figured if I was going to get COVID, it'd be there. Next thing I knew I was wearing my first mask, working from home, and have been primarily alone in my apartment ever since. The "air rundown" for that night's show is still on my fridge, like a note from the day that time stopped. I see it every day, and in that moment my brain can take me back to that night like a time machine — it feels simultaneously near and far, and delivers an intense saudade.

We recently asked for you to share the Last Fun Thing you did before everything changed. Below are some of the submissions we received, which contain personal memories, now cringe-worthy accounts of unmasked nights out on the town, and a reminder of just how wonderful this city is.

Please note: for length, we have cut approximately 250 submissions recalling seeing Celine Dion at Barclays Center.

In early March, my husband and I met a friend for a late afternoon snack and coffee at Lucien and I remember the bright winter sunlight made the inside of the restaurant so warm and lovely. We only chose Lucien, which usually made me a little uncomfortable because of its hip clientele, because of its proximity to the ever-glamorous gay dive bar Boiler Room. My friend had left his phone there after a late night out and after we finished at Lucien, we walked a few blocks to the bar to go get it. Naturally, because we were there already, my husband and friend ordered beers. I was about 16 weeks pregnant with twins so I had a seltzer. But the thrill of sitting in a bar that I had been to many times in my 20s very late at night during daylight hours enjoying a drink with a friend was not lost at me even then, before I knew things would be shut down only a few weeks later.

— Kelly, Harlem

Concert — Nada Surf at Music Hall of Williamsburg on January 31st, after dinner at Radegast with a dear friend who has since passed away.

Movie — Parasite at the IFC Center, sometime in February, before it won best picture.

Museum — Bill Graham exhibit at New York Historical Society, sometime in later February.

Dinner — at 181 Cabrini on March 14th (the night before restaurants shut down)

— From Anonymous Native New Yorker

After 10 years, we finally succeeded in getting my musical Love Quirks off-Broadway at St. Luke’s Theater.  We started previews on my birthday, and it was the best birthday I’ve ever had.  We had 2 weekends of performances, and I was just on top of the world.  The excitement of bringing a show that we worked on for so long to its commercial debut is incomparable. Seeing the standing ovations brought tears to my eyes, and I have never felt so happy. Then, we had to cancel the third weekend three days before the official opening night, which was to include a party with celebrities and dozens of my friends.  But I will always have the memory of those first two amazing weekends, and we recorded the cast album this [past] fall, and it will be released as soon as we are allowed to reopen.  I can’t wait til my last fun thing is my next fun thing again!
— Seth Bisen-Hersh

The view from a new job that wouldn't exist a few days later, March 2020.

I can’t imagine anyone thinking that work is the “last fun thing” they did before the shut down, but for me, it was definitely work. A few days before the shut down, after looking for work for about a month, I got hired to work in the bar at One World Observatory. The place was great, people were fun to work with, and the view was phenomenal. Prior to that, I had been unemployed for about a month or so, so it was exciting to be back being productive especially in such a gorgeous establishment. After a few days, indoor dining would be shut down indefinitely, and eventually the city would follow. My last day there I took a photo of the view not knowing when I’d be back. I haven’t been back there since, but am looking forward to a future where we can all go back to work, or even a future where we can enjoy a drink with friends indoors after a hard day’s work. 

— Jon V., Washington Heights

The last fun thing I did, March 10th — went to a yoga class in the morning before work, witnessed a beautiful sunrise, which I now know was a calm before the storm. That night I saw Dashboard Confessional and The Get Up Kids at Webster Hall for Dashboard's "The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most" set. We all joked about getting coronavirus from the show, as if this thing was going to be totally fleeting and an afterthought soon, and made plans to purchase tickets to summer festivals that night. It was great and I'm happy to report no one in our group got COVID at that show.

— Anonymous, UES

My friend and I had gotten tickets to see a play that was scheduled for the last night that Broadway was open. The world hadn't stopped just yet, so we decided to continue with our plans, although the impending, ominous cloud of doom that was our COVID future was definitely about to start looming over our heads. The play was hosted at Second Stage Theatre and it was called, "We're Gonna Die."

— Rebecca G., Inwood

According to my Google calendar it was a day with my friend Colleen, two days before everything shut down. 2:40 p.m. Alfred Hitchcock's The Ring at The Film Forum, then pizza and beer at some random joint while waiting for the 6:50 p.m., Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca.

— Briton,  Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn

St. Patrick's Day Parade in Queens, 2020

For me it was the St. Pat's For All parade in Sunnyside, Queens. I lived a half-block from the parade route, so I went out to take some photos with a Polaroid I'd just gotten film for. When I got home, my favorite shot was from just as things kicked off. I thought the photo was strangely ominous for being of such a happy day: everyone's facing in the same direction, cops are in the distance. It looks like there's something terrible happening. I guess in retrospect, there was.

— Max, Astoria

My last fun thing was a Van Hunt x Nate Smith concert at Rockwood on February 28th. Sold out shows at Rockwood were wonderful things.
— Mr. M

The last fun thing I did was watch the USWNT play in the She Believes Cup at the Red Bull Arena in Newark on March 8th, 2020. It was a beautiful day, and the USWNT won. It feels truly insane to think I was in a stadium with 25,000 people one week before NYC completely shut down. 

— Diane Shea, UWS

My partner and I went to the She Believes Cup at Red Bull Arena in Jersey on March 8th. We kept thinking they were going to cancel it, but nope. It was awesome! They were great seats and a small group of friends were also in attendance so we mingled and beered and cheered. Fear was already in the air, but mostly everything seemed routine. On our return to the city, feeling peckish, we decided to see if the uneasy atmosphere might finally beget a seat at Via Carota. It totally did! Yu-um.

— Kimchi, East New York

The Last Fun Thing I did was see West Side Story on Broadway with my wife. We went on March 10th, when COVID had already hit NYC and the numbers were drastically rising. In hindsight it was a reckless thing to do. I had heard mixed reviews of this version of WSS, but as a Wisconsin boy who grew up loving the film, I had to jump at the opportunity to see it live on Broadway. I'm most thankful that neither of us got sick from that night, but I'm also so glad that I had one last Broadway show before everything went dark

— Miles W, UWS

The last fun thing I did before NYC shut down was see Celine Dion at the Barclays Center on March 5th, 2020. I've been trying to see Celine for years and bought the tickets for a high school friend and I in October 2019. I remember using hand sanitizer frequently and looking around the large crowd with shifty eyes. However, once the concert started, I was singing (or rather screaming) songs like “My Heart Will Go On” with thousands of strangers. On the way home, we entered the subway and saw a crowd singing "It's All Coming Back to Me Now.” It was one of the last times I was carefree in the city and surrounded by that many people without freaking out. 

— Jess I., Astoria 

On March 11th, I was told our office was shutting down and I should take home anything I needed with me. I packed my backpack as full as I could, and I went straight to Six, which I'd been planning to see with my husband and in-laws for months. As I was walking up to the theater to have them scan my ticket, I read this article on Gothamist. Feeling it was too late to turn back, I still went in and tried desperately not to touch anything. I was shocked to discover the next day that Broadway was going dark. I was glad to be there on the last night, and I have every intention of being there when it reopens. It's my favorite thing about living here, and it's been heartbreaking to be without it for so long. 

— Sarah Sheppard , Kensington, Brooklyn

The last fun thing I did was see (f.k.a. Lady) Rizo's show at Joe's Pub, Losing The Lady, in late January of 2020. I've been a fan of hers for almost ten years and seeing her at Joe's Pub for almost as long. I have fibromyalgia, and a late night out is something I can really handle a few times a year, so I savored it. When I can see her again at one of her life-changing shows, that's when I'll feel in my bones that the pandemic is really behind us.
— Melissa Gellert

Sony Hall, Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020. Eric Johnson played his classics, like "Cliffs of Dover" and, well, "Manhattan," to a lively crowd of elderly New Yorkers. An indoor event, packed wall to wall. Laughter, cheers, a lot of beer. After the show, a drunken walk home through a crowded Times Square.
— John, UWS

I went out to dinner and to a debate on Public Transit policies by the candidates for Queens Borough President. My friend suggested we get Chinese food beforehand, with all this virus talk, people hadn’t been showing Chinese food restaurants the love. I spent one of my last evenings out listening to five politicians talk about how they were going to get us all the places we wanted to go. How they were going to protect the movement of New Yorkers. How going places would be easier than ever and how to get us there safely, equitably, and efficiently. There was even talk about how we make sidewalks and roads better for pedestrians, and alleviate parking on sidewalks. The candidates talked about how we’d be able to travel from one end of the borough to another, to Manhattan, how we could restore our connections to Brooklyn. What should we do about MTA fare hikes and is the FareShare program enough? They fought over bus lane designs, the need for increased capacity, the sheer number of people traveling through this borough to get places.

Really, the only part I should have paid attention to was the part about pedestrians.
— Dani

Brothers at MSG, March 10th, 2020.

The Brothers at Madison Square Garden — March 10th! Wasn't the greatest idea based on the information about COVID-19 that was coming in, but got amazing tickets for $22!!! Was a great show despite the awareness of what we were doing.

— Jaime Shifrin, Chelsea

I live in Connecticut, and my daughters and I have made regular trips into the city since they were old enough to walk. On January 15th, 2020, we caught a train to a Moth Story Slam at the Housing Works on Crosby Street. The theme of that night’s stories was “Beg Borrow Steal.” The shop was strung with lights and rearranged with stools and folding chairs. It was packed and cozy, and everyday people took turns at the mic telling stories that were funny, brilliant, strange, and sometimes sad. When we left, it was raining. We ran to the nearest subway station and got to Grand Central out of breath and just in time to see our train pulling away. With us that evening was a wonderful man named Tom, who is now my husband. About a week or two later, we felt really sick—hard to breathe, negative for the flu—and couldn’t shake the feeling for weeks. COVID hadn’t made the headlines yet. Months later we made the connection. Our vaccines are now scheduled. Photos of us at Housing Works came up on my phone on the one-year anniversary of that last trip. We miss New York so, so much.

— Lesia Day

I now refer to my meal at Upland on March 12th, 2020 as “the last supper.” We all went out for a delicious dinner, all of us aware that this was probably it for a while. Post dinner, while doomsday-watching CNN we saw flights were now banned from Europe and Tom Hanks had COVID, and officially started to get concerned. Flash forward 24 hours later and I was on a plane out of New York and wouldn’t be back for 6 months.
— Alexa V

I went to see a theatrical adaptation of Eric Marcus’s book, Making Gay History, in a packed little theater off Washington Square. The play was great. Everyone was excited. But I remember meeting friends of friends in the audience who had just flown in from Italy and thinking, "We’re not doing this again." Italy had already been in lockdown.

— Stephanie B.

My wife and I went to Bar 43 in Sunnyside for chicken wings and day-drinking.  It was just before they closed restaurants and bars.  We had fun, but it didn’t take the sting out of having to cancel our anniversary trip to New Orleans the following week.

— Dave

Last night of Six on Broadway.

On March 11th, 2020, my partner and I were lucky enough to attend what would be the final performance of SIX on Broadway. We had both come from work, met at the now closed Bocca di Bacco for a quick dinner, and then headed to The Brooks Atkinson for the show. We read in the news that day that an usher who had worked at that theatre had recently tested positive, but we went to the show anyway and casually took note of the white cloth gloves all the ushers were now wearing. The show itself was absolutely fantastic and was set to have its official opening the next day. We left the theater on cloud nine; both of us had that rush that is so specific to seeing a new musical that is on the precipice of becoming a huge hit. We got to the subway platform and checked our phones while waiting for the Q, and learned that in the 90 or so minutes we were in the theatre, the NBA had shut down, all travel to Europe had been cancelled, and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson had both tested positive for COVID. It was like the whole world changed during the course of a musical. I really hope Broadway can safely reopen this year, and cannot wait to see Six again when it does.  

— Josh Scheer, Yorkville

The Last Fun Thing I did in pre-pandemic NYC was attend the Tibet House benefit concert at Carnegie Hall. The memory of artists like Laurie Anderson, Patti Smith, Phoebe Bridgers and a shirtless Iggy Pop in person still thrills more than any live streamed concert. But there was already an uneasiness in the air in the concert hall — each time someone coughed in the audience, we all stared; I couldn't help but wonder, "Is this how I'm going to get infected with the virus?"

The final play, art exhibit and film I saw with audiences all coincidentally dealt with our mortality — Second Stage's "We're Gonna Die," The Met Breuer's "Gerhard Richter: Painting After All," the extremely short-lived exhibit which I saw on what would become the last afternoon ever for the Breuer and the documentary "Dick Johnson is Dead," which I watched in a historic theatre to a sold out film festival audience of 1,200. 

— Sylvia, Yorkville 

The Last Fun Thing I did was have a perfect night out with girlfriends. First, we crammed into a tiny, crowded bar where we struggled to tote pickleback shots back to our table, and sang with strangers before walking to the Barclays Center to see Celine Dion bring down the house. We high-fived seatmates, had fellow fans take our picture in concert tees and helped fill the arena with joy. I took the subway home and in perfect New York fashion, bumped into one of my oldest friends also taking the G. We caught up and capped the night with a hug. It was perfect and I can't wait to get back there.

— Jen, Carroll Gardens

A basketball game at MSG, March 7th, 2020.

My husband and I went to a St. John's basketball game at MSG on March 7th — the same day the first case was announced in Queens, our home borough. As a reporter who had been covering COVID spreading outside the United States, I remember looking around the arena and thinking about how many people could have been infected as we watched the Johnnies narrowly beat Marquette. We had a great time, hugged several friends we ran into at the snack bar, but we didn't touch the poles on the subway on the way home. March Madness was canceled just five days later.

— Rebecca Bratek, Forest Hills

Went to a movie, The Hunt, on the LES on Saturday, March 14th.  Reduced capacity in the theater, but masks were not a thing yet. Got in an argument with my friend on the way out because neither of us wanted to be the one to touch the door handle.  Everything closed that coming Tuesday.  Me and that same friend are excited to go to the movies!

— Andrew Campbell

Last March, I visited NYC for a dear friend's 40th birthday party at a happenin' bar in Bushwick. All of my friends were there and we danced all night long. I looked amazing in a black bodysuit and beret. It was the kind of night I would have on a typical weekend in any of my 12 years in the city. (I moved to L.A. in June 2018 and this trip was only my second time back since.) The rest of the weekend was spent gallivanting about town, drinking too much, and staying up all night with old friends and lovers. I spent the flight back to LA plotting my move back to New York. The next day, my office went completely remote and LA locked down. Nothing has been as fun since. 

— Amira Nader

The last fun thing I did before the world closed down was to see Dashboard Confessional's 20 year reunion tour at Webster Hall. Reliving our youth, just before our lives came to a screeching halt. 2 days later, I was laid off from my job in TV "for 2 weeks" and didn't get back to work until August. The 2 weeks leading up to the world ending, I'd 1) had my boyfriend in town from Sweden, 2) gone to brunch with my best gal pals, 3) seen my best friends baby christened 4) celebrated another close friend's 31st birthday. Little did I know I'd know I'd wind up going 10 months before seeing my boyfriend, and many months before seeing any of my friends and family.

— Liz K, Williamsburg, NY 

Town Hall, January 16th.

The last fun thing I did was see Seu Jorge and Rogê on January 16th at Town Hall.

I miss live music so much.

— Mary Taylor

The last fun thing I did in NYC was on March 11th, a semi-private whole-fish dinner at a small Japanese storefront with a teaching kitchen in the back. My wife was already working from home and we knew the pandemic was serious, but the mandatory shutdown order from Cuomo hadn't come down yet, so we decided to keep our reservation. It was for my birthday and we just had no idea what was about to happen over the following days. Chef Yuji Haraguchi cooked an entire tuna in front of us and we ate each part of it over several courses. He explained it all as he went along. There was a family visiting from out of town who sat on the bar stools next to us, and I remember feeling a little nervous when one of them coughed. At this point I really can't imagine being in such an intimate and small space with maskless strangers, sharing from the same large bowl of rice. I'm not sure when that will happen again. That memory would have been special on its own (a whole tuna!) but combined with the fact that everything shut down indefinitely and we have since moved out of the city, it's a pretty vivid window into the moment where we knew something was going down but had no idea just how bad it would be. 

— Anonymous

The last fun thing I did before the pandemic was on Saturday, March 14th, my husband’s 50th birthday. We had planned to host drinks at a local bar in Midtown next to Grand Central, and invited a broad range of friends to celebrate. As the day approached, we had to decide whether to keep the party on, or cancel it. We talked to the venue, and they were eager to keep the booking if we were up for it. So we talked to some of our friends, and decided to do it with the stipulation that guests did not have to attend if they did not feel safe. Only three did not join. All anyone could talk about was coronavirus. At the time, none of us imagined it would get as bad as it did, as quickly as it did. And in retrospect, we obviously should not have kept the party on. No one wore masks at that point, and the venue's staff wore surgical gloves as they served the share plates. There were no birthday presents, but one person gave a gift-set of hand sanitizers. Everyone got a squirt. It was the last party any of us attended. We were very lucky that no one got sick.

— Jeff

The week before shelter in place happened, my wife and I had a great NYC week. We saw Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf on Broadway on March 7th, one of the best shows we'd seen in a long time, and then headed to a CONCACAF Champions League game in New Jersey on Wednesday, March 11th. En route to the soccer game we were informed by friends that an usher at the Broadway show had been COVID-positive, and there were fans in the stands clad in biohazard suits. It all created a general sense of unease, but we still had a great time, and had absolutely no idea what we were in for in just a couple of days.

— Pete

My husband and I went to tiny Barbes on 9th Street in Park Slope for a 10 p.m. show (I can't remember the band!) on March 7th.  It was packed and brimming with night energy.  Folks shared seats, stood like sardines behind the scattered chairs, coughed, whispered, applauded, and shouted. As usual, we loved being at Barbes. A week later, we were stunned that we hadn't gotten sick...

— Elizabeth, Brooklyn

Billy Griffin, ollie, the Brooklyn Banks, Manhattan, March 2020.

In early March, word got out that the Brooklyn Banks [skate park] on-again, off-again construction was on again. The following Sunday, March 8th, a small group made our way over... After seeing the extent of the work done so far, we chose to jump the fence. As we started skating the pillars and the rail, more and more crews jumped the fence and the session ballooned from three people to fifteen or so. I think we all got about thirty minutes of skating in before someone spotted us from the other end and we had to make a break for it. We spent the rest of the day skating around Seaport before swinging by the Hopps pop-up, the bump-to-bar at the end of Houston, and the mural ledge in the playground. Unbeknownst to any of us, that was the last day of worry-free street skating before the pandemic overtook New York City. For the first half of that week, the fate of the Brooklyn Banks was weighing on my mind, and I was emailing construction firms and the NYC Department of Transportation for an official statement on the project. A week later, those concerns seemed futile in light of a global catastrophe.

— Andrew Murrell

My girlfriend lives in Nashville and I live in NYC. The weekend of March 13th, she was returning from a work trip to Mexico, and so we decided it would be fun for her to visit NYC as a detour. We had been talking about staying at the TWA Hotel, and since her flight landed at JFK, it was the perfect opportunity. We had a beautiful room overlooking the runway, took photos in the photo booth, got all dressed up, had drinks at the Connie Cocktail Lounge, had dinner at Szechuan Mountain House in Flushing, and capped the night at Eddie's Sweet Shop. It was such a special and fun weekend, even if the new presence of hand sanitizer everywhere felt disconcerting. People were out, laughing, having a normal weekend.
Later that week, I became sick with a low fever, a dry cough, and muscle aches, but recovered  and didn't really think much about it at the time. Out of curiosity, I got a COVID antibody test in May of 2020. The results came back positive.

I live with a lot of guilt that I likely spread COVID-19 that weekend. I was so incredibly naive and shortsighted at the time. We've tried to live as safely and cautiously as possible since then. But typing this out, I really feel like an asshole.
— Anonymous, UWS

I saw Bob Mould play in a real club with a real audience. He was great. Loud, righteous great. I went into 2020 intending to go to more live performances and was off to a strong start. I saw “Come From Away” on Broadway just before it closed, and Marc Maron perform his eerily prescient “End Times Fun” tour. Then Bob Mould, then everything shut down and I’ve spent the last year looking for ways to support performers who can’t perform and looking forward to being in an audience again.

— Ben T.

The last fun thing I did before everything shut down was to celebrate my mom’s 70th Birthday, which fell on March 14th, 2020. What was supposed to be a surprise party featuring a piano, a sushi chef, and about 40-50 guests, turned out to be a brunch for about 10+ people with a little bit of a cappella singing. Afterwards a few of us joined my father, who had separated himself after being diagnosed with a cold (but had given him a scare earlier in the week), at the nearby Roxy Hotel. My parents knew the pianist/singer who was performing in their unusually quiet lounge. When it was time for my parents to hit the hay I decided to visit a nearby bar in my neighborhood knowing then that the lockdown was only hours away. Overall it was a pretty great last hoorah that I didn’t even know how important the memory would become.

— Adrienne Cooper, Harlem

The Allman Brothers Band 50th Anniversary Concert at MSG on Tuesday March 10th, 2020.  Amazing show, amazing setlist and felt normal although people were already wearing masks and gloves on subway and the “lockdown” was the talk of the night.

— Christopher S.

It was late February when I saw progressive metal band Opeth play at the Apollo Theater. Between songs, the frontman told us about the large gong behind the drummer. He said it was from Wuhan, China, at which point the entire audience booed.

— Joe J.

I got to see Céline Dion perform at the Barclays Center! I had purchased the tickets almost a year prior, as a birthday gift to myself. I moved here from Montréal 7 years ago, so to see her here in Brooklyn was especially important to me. It was everything I hoped. She of course is an amazing performer, the show was so tight, and she is so goofy. The crowd went wild. It was a great last show know....

— Geneviève

It was a beautiful early spring day. I had a fantastic workout with my trainer at the Vanderbilt YMCA in Midtown East. I then went back home for lunch in Astoria only to realize I was the only person on the platform waiting for an Astoria bound train. My wife and I then went back to Manhattan to volunteer at the food kitchen in Christ Church United Methodist Church. We ended our service earlier than usual and we were able to see a gorgeous sunset on the walk to the subway. Little did we know that was "the moment" our lives would change.

— John Paul, Astoria

On March 6th, 2020, a friend and I went to catch "Black Queens Matter" at the Roulette Intermedium in Boerum Hill. The show was part of the Nubia tour, featuring 6 iconic Black drag queens, and celebrated queer Black excellence in performance. The event was standing-room only and it's truly wild to think about what close proximity we were all in, to each other and to the performers!

— Dan Ngai, SoHo

That week of March 1st (the last week I remember it being "normal") I was actually riding a high. I was wrapping a freelance gig and was excited about starting a full time producing job the very next Monday. To celebrate, I packed that week full of activities; a taping of WWE Raw at the Barclays Center on Monday, dinner and drinks with a friend in from Canada on Wednesday, topped off by a Ramy Youssef show at The Bell House on Friday (what would end up being my final "real" Friday night out). My friend and I decided to get a drink before we made our way to the show, and he was going off about how COVID wasn't going to be a big deal. I remember getting into The Bell House and the place being absolutely packed. At the time, I was really looking forward to the next season of Ramy, which at that point was months away. My friend and I agreed we'd watch the season premiere together when it came out in May. That was the last time I saw my friend for 8 months. Season 2 of Ramy ended up being a great quarantine treat. 

— Jake, Bushwick 

I participated in a Sacred Harp singing in Brooklyn.  I brought some homemade cookies to share at the break, but this time I individually wrapped them.

— Sara Schoenwetter

We actually held a big potluck/house party on March 7th, 2020 for about 40 people. I remember some of those who took the subway insisted on taking some extra precautions to wash their hands with the news circulating about COVID probably being in the city. But the terms “social distancing” or “flattening the curve” certainly did not exist yet that weekend. We invested a lot in setting up our newish home to host people and fun gatherings... and that was the last time we were able to.

— Anne, UWS

The Last Fun Thing I did was actually one of my favorite NYC memories to date. I last-minute went to Trine, which was a weekly (?) comedy show at the Freehand Hotel on Sunday nights hosted by Bowen Yang, Mo Fry, and Sudi Green. The show was amazing and then John Mulaney dropped in and did a bit, which ended up being his practice for his SNL monologue the following week. It was amazing. Afterwards, we went downstairs to Simon & The Whale and got french fries, oysters, and desserts for dinner. 

— Claire, Alphabet City 

I went to a Dashboard Confessional’s 20th anniversary show at Webster Hall on March 11th. I was surprised they didn’t cancel it; during the show Chris Carrabba told us the rest of his tour had been canceled. The very next day Cuomo issued a moratorium on gatherings with 500 people or more. I got to experience the very last night of concerts in NYC…

— Sarah S.

It's surreal to think that on Tuesday, March 10th, 2020, I sat in the audience at National Sawdust to see Fritz Lang's silent masterpiece "Metropolis" with a live orchestral accompaniment by composer Ricardo Romaneiro. We already knew COVID-19 was a thing, but we didn't really know what kind of thing. I'm amazed to think how near each other we audience members were, and of course, unmasked. That nearness is something I miss. But the event sums  up something else about what's missing in this new reality--it was a confluence of past (the nearly century-old film), present (the newly composed score), and future (in the imagination of Lang and his collaborator Thea von Harbou, and of course in our own imaginations as well). You can only experience a simulation of that on Zoom. And doesn't a dystopian future seem a step nearer now?

At the time, I was living with my wife in her art studio in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. I was supposed to travel to Chicago that Thursday, two days later, for work. On Wednesday the trip was canceled and I said to my wife, my agenda is suddenly clear, let's go out to our country house in Long Island and stay there for a few weeks until this pandemic thing blows over. A few weeks has turned into a year.
— Barry Schwabsky

The last fun things I did in the Before Times were two consecutive weeknights out. First was an exhibition opening at the Metropolitan Museum on March 9th. It was a photography show that my company designed the book for. The photography galleries at the Met are not huge, so the reception was packed with people all crowded together in three small rooms, laughing and hugging and kissing and sometimes pretending to not shake hands because of this new virus going around. It was fun, but it also had this heightened sense of weirdness to it, like we all knew this was the end of the line.

Then the next night I went to a friend's birthday party at Pepolino downtown. Again, we were all packed in tightly and hugging and kissing. We learned some days later that one among us had COVID, but no one else from that party got sick. 
— David Zaza, Midtown


Last fun thing was February 15th, 2020. We celebrated Valentine’s Day by taking a private pottery class at BKLYN CLAY. We had a friend watch our baby for the night, and we set out on adventure on the coldest, most windy night of February. Neither of us had ever done pottery before, but we strapped on some aprons and cracked some cold beers as we listened to our instructor. We made 4 beautiful pieces that night. Later we walked over to James, a wonderful restaurant in prospect heights. We had cocktails, dinner, a bottle of wine, and even dessert. Never would have thought it would be our last date for a very, very long time. I’m glad we went out with a bang.
— Teresa Hoerres

On February 28th, 2020, my best friend and I had a girls night to see Celine Dion’s Courage tour at the Barclays Center. It was an intimate evening with 20,000 of our fellow (unmasked) New Yorkers, screaming and singing along to every song at the top of our lungs. Afterwards we went for burgers at Rose’s on Flatbush Ave, where the bartender humored us by playing Celine on the sound system and the party continued. A few nights later on March 4th, I saw the premiere of Nederlands Dans Theater, the extraordinary modern dance company, at New York City Center, where I work. Celine happened to be in the audience too—what a thrill to sit just a few rows away from her! It was a sold-out show. We had extra Purell stations available throughout the theater. One year later, Celine has just announced rescheduled European tour dates for May 2022, Rose’s on Flatbush has sadly closed their doors for good, and City Center’s digital performances are available online as we await the day audiences can return to the theater. 

— Naomi, Prospect Heights

I definitely did a few less fun things in the last days of the Before Times, but the last really fun thing I did was see the Improvised Shakespeare Company perform at Theatre 80 on January 13th. Improv Shakespeare comes to NYC twice a year, once in January and once in the summer, and I've been going every time they're here since 2014. They are the most hilarious improv theater shows I have ever seen: they put on a totally new, Shakespeare-inspired play based on a suggestion from the audience. My husband and I still quote lines from various productions we have seen ("It's a party on many levels!"). It's been over a year, and I miss it so much, just like I miss live theater so much. As another reminder of how much has changed, the Xi'an Famous Foods across the street we always went to afterwards, and where we always ended up waiting on line with the cast, closed during COVID.

— Christina, West Village

The night before my roommate’s office shut down due to a Covid case being reported in the building, we decided to walk up to one of our favorite local bars in the Heights, Hilltop Park Alehouse, for happy hour. We took two seats at the bar, ordered a plate of mussels to share and two glasses of rosé from the happy hour menu. This is what I miss the most, sharing time with my best friend in my favorite city in the world. Also drinks I didn’t make myself at a bar that’s not in my home — that too. 

— Sam

I remember well my last social outing before the pandemic. I'm a lecture agent, and one of my clients, the poet Ilya Kaminsky, was in town to do an event at BAM. I was at the BAM event with Ilya, and his wife, the poet Katie Farris, and a bunch of other literary types. That was March 10th. Ilya and Katie were still in town the following day, and we all met for drinks at a bar in Downtown Brooklyn — we had some tequila, traded some harmless literary gossip, and we all went our own way that night. I can still remember the table we sat at, the sense of feeling at sea, of not knowing what was coming next — it was lockdown of course. This story isn't particularly dramatic, but I have thought of that evening frequently since the pandemic, and how truly lucky I was to have friends like Ilya and Katie.

— Leslie

Had a newly single friend flying in from Florida looking to blow off some steam. So, 6 of us, all lifelong childhood friends, met up with him on Saturday night, March 14th, at his Midtown hotel. We were a bit on edge with all the reports about the virus coming from everywhere. Our wives were livid, angrily sending texts our way all evening demanding we come home.  Not one mask was to be seen anywhere. Jarrett wanted a good steak so we hit Del Frisco's where we proceeded to sit next to 50 Cent. We then walked by Tracy Morgan in a Lamborghini SUV as we headed downtown to the LES, where we hit packed bar and lounge after packed bar and lounge. Now, the most important part of this story is my friend has a huge heart and is a big, big hugger... Jarrett made his way through the city hugging literally anyone... all told maybe over 100 strangers were hugged that evening as we all watched mortified  Bartenders, waiters, doormen, ladies and gents. 'A hoax’, he said. ‘Come on, gimme a hug.' By Monday every restaurant and bar in NYC was shutdown. 

— Justin

At Zum Schneider.

I went to a Karneval party for the final day of Zum Schneider, a legendary beer garden on Avenue C in the East Village. It was an annual tradition. The bar was closing because of rent negotiations, not the pandemic. Sadly it was a harbinger of closures to come. I was dressed as a giant squid. The Tubaist played his instrument nude.
— Blake Ward, Fort Greene

On February 29th, 2020 in Greenpoint, I was able to celebrate along with my husband, daughter, and my son's future in-laws and grandmother his engagement to his fiancé earlier that day. My future daughter in law’s grandmother who we loved dearly, passed away suddenly in September. The last time we were together celebrating our children’s future together was right before the shut down. I’d give anything to get back 2/29/20 and linger a little longer and enjoy everyone’s company.  — Sandra Feldman

I flew in for all four nights of the Bird 99 celebration at Smoke. Vincent Herring, Gary Bartz & Bobby Watson blew everybody away; three of the greatest Jazz players on the planet soaring full blast every set. Talk about the tragedy of losing your intimate NYC Jazz Clubs... I sat amongst classic Harlem old timers one night, sat next to a fascinating Italian woman the next, met legendary UWS Jazz denizens at the bar and had hip conversations with all the Jazz giants in the sextet. All of that vanished in a Corona haze.

— Carnak

On March 11th, my wife and I went to the Met to see Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte." Little did we know it would be their final night. Just a few days prior, we had picked our daughter up at JFK after she and her classmates were evacuated from Florence by SUNY, bringing her study-abroad program to a premature end. The opera house that night was like a ghost town; only a fraction of the seats were filled. Chatting with others before the show, everyone was pretty freaked out at the empty house. Walking back to our car that night, through a near-desolate UWS, my wife said it was the first time that she actually felt scared. The following day, the Met cancelled the remainder of the season.

— Carmine DeMarco

Right around this time last year, I saw 19 plays in 20 days. For many of them I was a volunteer usher. It was too early for masked audience members or canceled performances, but things were getting hairier every day (I remember my co-usher waving from his ticket-tearing position one evening to alert me not to touch a ticket that he had seen a patron sneeze into). Towards the end of the stint I was wearing gloves and would have gladly canceled a gig, but honored my commitment. I guess the first New York cases were simply not off-Broadway fans, or I might have become an unwitting super-spreader (I've tested negative many times since). Little did I know I was saying goodbye  for the foreseeable future to one of my favorite New York things to do...

— José María Perazzo, Midtown

The last fun thing I did in New York was come home. I've been going to school in DC, and came back to New York for a long-overdue long weekend at the end of February. Amtrak felt weird, the subway felt weird, like the city was bracing for something. But then I got to the bar (our bar) and squeezed into a 6-person booth with so many (many more than 6) people I loved and missed so much, and it was home — warm, and cozy, and just somehow okay. The last day, leap day, we had a party. It was a wonderful blur; hot pot and drinking games, and piles of people on couches; someone absent-mindedly braiding my hair while I sat on the floor playing cards; smoking my last-ever cigarette outside in the cold. I left the next day, and haven't been home since. 

— Olivia

We had a party at the end of February at our home in Brooklyn. It was 70s ski house themed and we had fondue and crock pot meatballs and pink grapefruit margaritas. I wore a leopard-print housedress—to the floor. A few folks arrived in knit ponchos and vintage ski sweaters. There might have been some lederhausen. We invited kids too and one child drank two real Coca-Colas in glass bottles and ate a plate of chocolate fondue and started to cry from all the sugar. Little did we know it was the last of the Before Times. All year, I found myself saying  to my husband, I’m so glad we had that party. We froze the leftover fondue cheese mixture and I made it again in Vermont over Christmas, a year later, where our family were the only guests in a quarantined inn — some odd version of past being prologue. We wore our '70s sweaters again, grateful for the memories, hopeful for the next time.

— Caroline A. Koster

I play in a twenty-piece brass band.  On March 5th, 2020, we had our last pre-lockdown gig, a fundraising gala for a Manhattan private school.  The party's theme was outer space, so we enhanced our usual glam-pocalyptic stagewear with some futuristic flourishes.  Decked out in silver sequins with alien antennae bobbing on our heads, we paraded through rooms decorated like the inside of a rocketship or the surface of Mars. We got people dancing and enjoyed fancy hors d'oeuvres between songs.  We offered each other hand sanitizer and laughed nervously about what the future here on Earth might hold for us. 

— Jamie, Ridgewood, Queens

I played tenor sax in a group called the 69th Street Band which had a steady weekend gig at the famous club Paris Blues on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in Harlem, which had an international as well as domestic clientele.  The last time I played there was March 14th , 2020.   Sadly, the owner of the club, 84 year old Samuel Hargress Jr., died from Covid-19 in early April 2020.   

— Steve Golub 

The last fun thing I did last year was on the 1st of March, 2020. It was a concert/fundraiser at the Apollo to celebrate the 93rd birthday of the luminous Harry Bellafonte. A dear friend of mine was the organizer of the star-studded event - a night of beautiful music by Aloe Blacc, Alice Smith, Talib Kweli, Common, Sheila E, Usher and Doug E. Fresh. Mr Bellafonte was there in the 3rd row, soaking up all the birthday love of the more than 1000 attendees. In keeping with his lifelong activism, the event benefited the Center for Popular Democracy. After the show, we all ended up at the Red Rooster for the after party. And that was the last fun thing I did before NYC went into lockdown.
— Auria Abraham, Flatbush

On Friday, March 6th, 2020, I went on a first date with a casual acquaintance I'd been trying to make plans with for a while. We went to Brooklyn Museum's last First Friday party, and the place was packed—the lobby throbbed with dancing people, and the Egyptian wing, in particular, was a mob scene. We chatted about the coronavirus and decided the media would probably move on when another, bigger story broke. Afterward we strolled over to Sunshine Co for cocktails and appetizers, and at the end of a solid first date he hesitated when my Uber pulled up—so I gave him a hug, figuring there'd be plenty of opportunity for a goodnight kiss on Date 2. How wrong I was! 

— Andrea Bartz, South Slope

Weekend of March 7th, 2020: We hosted 150 friends and family from across the U.S. and 7 different countries for a wedding reception.  The Friday night "Welcome Drinks" was at our favorite bar, the always cozy, Dirty Precious in Gowanus and the Saturday evening reception was at The Lotos Club.  We wanted to show our guests two very different sides of the city we love, and aside from a few day-of cancellations and discussions of adding hand washing stations, nothing felt too out of the ordinary. We went off on our honeymoon and returned from Sri Lanka with the help of the State Department to a different world, and didn't come back to our apartment in Brooklyn until the end of May — never returning to live in NYC full time again.  After 14 years of living in Manhattan and Brooklyn, for months I couldn't even think about this last weekend celebration without getting very emotional, but with some time to reflect, I can't think of a better goodbye party to the most incredible city in the world.

— Ali Rickards & Rob Embers, formerly of Gowanus

There were 8 of us who celebrated our 58th birthdays at Nat Tapas in the East Village. Karen, Barb and I have celebrated our February birthdays together since we turned 19 at college together. Since we were out on the Saturday night that was my actual birthday, one dancer invited me to join her on the dance floor. SO FUN. This year, to celebrate 59, we had a Zoom dance party.
— Susan Gross

March 9th, 2020 marked was my last fun thing. It was the final show from my Freestyle Love Supreme Academy at the Greenwich House Theater. I've never really done a drama or theater class in my life — and it was my brave act of 2020. It was the most fun, with the best people and I was so glad to be part of it. The show is improv, with audience suggestion, and before the show we all agreed to keep it positive and not take pandemic-related suggestions. That was a great call! I ended up free-styling about the phrase "butterfly kisses" and shared about becoming a mom to my two awesome hyena boys. Afterwards we all went out to the Barrow Street Ale House for drinks and fries and it was a grand ole' time!
— Jennifer Rapoport, DUMBO

On March 10th, 2020, my friends and I attended the kick off party for Seltzerland, a nationally touring hard seltzer festival that was sponsored by Corona Hard Seltzer. The party took place at Slate in Chelsea. My friends and I were discussing if we should go but ultimately thought if this is our last outing for a while, let's go out with a bang. The crowd turned out to be intimate (social distancing before social distancing was a thing) and we were able to enjoy the experience with just a few other party goers. Everyone enjoyed unlimited hard seltzer, good eats, party favors, and music. I must say it was a great way to enjoy one last outing before being stuck at home for a year. 

— John Simon

On March 10th, 2020, a friend and I saw Six on Broadway. It was still in previews; we met for dinner and drinks before the show. I remember going straight for the bathroom as soon as we got to the restaurant so I could wash my hands, twice. Six was fantastic. The theater was packed, and everyone screamed and cheered along with the music like we were in Madison Square Garden, not a Broadway theater—it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. The next day, my office sent us all home for at least two weeks (ha). Two days after that, there was a news report that an usher at Six for the show the night before ours had tested positive for COVID-19. Broadway was shut down within the week.

— Lauren P., UES

My husband and I had a fabulous time with another couple, celebrating the holiday season at Birdland. It's been our tradition to have a music-related night out together at this time of year, and the evening didn't disappoint. Monty Alexander was the main draw but in the audience was Tony Bennett. We have a fun picture of ourselves taken that night. Such energy! Oh, how we miss the live music and culture.

— Maria and Bill Terrone, Jackson Heights, Queens

On Monday, March 9th, 2020 I went to a reading of the Book of Esther for Purim, hosted at a friend's apartment in Park Slope. For the uninitiated, Purim is usually pretty debaucherous, but last year it was quite tame, though still some pretty great costumes. I dressed as Instagram's @dudewithsign — as I wrote the sign on the subway, a random woman took a picture, laughing to herself, showing that she understood. She Tweeted about it. Everyone already had some sense that it was the end, but we had no idea what that meant. It's the last time I gathered unmasked, indoors with a group of people.

— Mike Schwartz

I think about this frequently... One of my best friends was going through a breakup in Colorado. I received a 4 a.m. text that said “I’m coming Tuesday.” It was the end of February 2020, she crashed on my couch, tried oat milk for the first time (not a hit), and we did as much as possible. A show at Comedy Cellar, a night of music at Groove, cocktails at The Cubbyhole, wine school at Parcelle, delicious dinner (and hilarious people watching) at a super crowded Buddakan, gallery shows, fabulous singalongs with cabbies, and ramen noodles. These three perfect days culminated in a proper pre-pandemic send off — a crowded rush hour Penn Station with all the trains to JFK being “significantly delayed.” We hugged a lot, but if I had known what the next weeks, months, year would bring, I would’ve squeezed her longer.  Miss you, Kel. We’ll see each other again soon. 

— Alison, UWS

The Last Fun Thing I did was me and my husband's pre-baby brunch with a few of my favorite people at a local restaurant. We were all a little nervous about hugging, but couldn't resist. The next morning my obstetrician called with a pre-eclampsia diagnosis, and would have me go to the hospital right away for observation. When admitted, things seemed to operate as normal around me. I ended up being induced the next night – three weeks early. By the time I went into the recovery room, the entire hospital staff was masked and no visitors other than partners were allowed in. We emerged from the hospital three days later to an official global pandemic and a radically different city.  Little did I know, that celebratory brunch would be the last time I'd see a group of  friends indoors for a year. 

— Annie, Hudson Square

I went to the Roxy Cinema with friends, after I heard Nicolas Cage was going to drop in. They'd had a whole series of his movies and he decided to go to one and give an impromptu interview for Bangkok Dangerous. His interview was full of pseudo-philosophical musings and bizarre statements.

— Thomas Rowley

On Friday, March 13th, 2020, I became a US citizen! We arrived at the Brooklyn Courthouse at 7 a.m., and by the time we left at noon, it felt like the whole world had shifted. The streets were quiet but for me and the 250 or so others who had also become citizens that day. We were taking pictures, and waving mini-US flags. It ended up being the final hurrah before months indoors.

— Rebecca Cardwell, Kensington

The Last Fun Things was a preview of Six with two friends and their daughters—a mom’s night out. We had dinner at Cafe Un Duex Trois—we love their crepes—saw the show and had after-dinner drinks. It was a wonderful night. One of my friends bought us silk scarves and I got everyone the tiny hand sanitizers from Duane Reade.

I came down with COVID that weekend. I stopped coughing in May. And haven’t left the neighborhood since work from home started on March 16th, 2020.

Laverne saves the (birth)day with a distanced picnic in the park.

My birthday is on March 20th, which was the start of the weekend when New York went into lockdown.  A couple of weeks earlier, my dear friend Valentin, flew into New York from Italy to help me organize and host a birthday dinner party.  For a while, we had a great time enjoying New York and planning the party.  But, as the date approached, news of the pandemic’s spread increased and we scrapped the birthday plans and focused on getting him back home to Italy before that became impossible. He finally managed to get home on March 18th! I disinvited all the guests and resigned myself to an unexpected birthday in lockdown. The next day, my old, close friend Laverne came up with a way for us to mark the day... she suggested that we meet on the 20th at Brooklyn Bridge Park for a distanced picnic. We each brought blankets to lie on and laid them out near each other so we could keep the required six feet between us.  At that time, we didn’t think we needed masks yet.   She arrived with some favorite food and desserts that she’d ordered and picked up on the way and we had the most wonderful, spontaneous, celebratory picnic by the side of the East River and got to watch the sun set behind Manhattan.   When I returned home that evening, I found a bag with gifts from neighbors in my building hanging on my door and a video from Italy of the candles burning down on a cake that Valentin had managed to bake the day after his exhausting, stressful flights.  It was one of the the most memorable birthdays I’ve ever had.   The next day, everything shut down.

— Steve Miller, UWS

March 12th, 2020 was the Greatest Hits of Last Fun Things for me. I went to my office, a restaurant, a movie at the AMC Village 7, and a performance at the Rockwood Music Hall. Afterward I met someone at a bar and took the subway home. I haven't done any of those things since! It was a day of glorious spontaneity, but I remember telling my friend that it seemed like this might be our last normal night for a while. Talk about an understatement!

— Katie Anderson, Brooklyn

I met my now-partner for patio margs at Rosie’s because it was the first day it  seemed warm enough to sit outside. We weren’t on speaking terms for the weeks prior for reasons I can’t even remember now, but in the spirit of the first patio happy hour of the season, I texted hi back and said “One marg won’t hurt.” One marg turned into three and we wandered the eerily empty streets of the city, decided to use it to our advantage and try our luck for a table at Bobo, got a table and decided it was both too pretentious and too closely sat, and opted instead for a big six top to ourselves downstairs at an empty Alta. We closed out the night at Smalls before grabbing a late night burger at Corner Bistro. That Sunday, he took a quick subway up to his studio on the UES to pack a bag for the week. He’s been living with me ever since.
— Maria

I had quite an enjoyable last romp around the city Friday, March 6, 2020. I took the day off of work to wait in line at the DMV to register an old car my brother lent me before he moved to the west coast (serendipitous timing!). I finished earlier than expected, so I filled the hours before my bus to Jersey to pick up the car with some questionable activities... I strolled around Time Square, even trying some coats on at H&M! I hesitantly took a seat in an almost empty movie theater to see Bird of Prey while waiting for my bus (hey, I enjoyed it!). I rolled into Port Authority right as my NJ Transit bus to Jersey was boarding — the last out-of-town bus I have taken in a year. Thankfully, I did not contract the virus from my adventures that day, but I have treasured those simple last memories of the Before Times every day since, even if they make me simultaneously cringe!

— Meg, Bushwick

March 6th, 2020 — A Magical Dinner. I was invited to my friend's beautiful Art Deco apartment in the Village for one of her fantastic dinner parties. A great cook, she's a renowned translator and cultural promoter of all things Catalan, a born and bred New Yorker who generously connects all kinds of people. As usual, I knew I would likely meet friends as well as new people from all over the world, artists, journalists, teachers, writers, activists. Before her dinners we usually went up to her building's roof, from where we've seen huge moons, the lights turning on at twilight, ESB and Chrysler glittering, moments that make me feel awe that I get to live here. I told her I was writing this so we emailed trying to reconstruct the meal, all I remember was a succulent salmon and the usual conversation going on hours after dessert. I found a text from the day after the dinner thanking her and then on the 10th a quick one telling her I was scared and that my university was closing so I'd be teaching from home. 

— Miriam M. Basilio Gaztambide

Dim Sum Run

One of the last fun things I did in New York City was a brunch dim sun run from Prospect Park to Golden Unicorn in Chinatown with my running club, Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC). In a normal year, PPTC hosts several food runs because there's nothing better than running a few miles with your best running friends and then eating delicious food. We did the dim sum in late February to celebrate Lunar New Year and we were also happy to support a Chinese restaurant in response to the growing anti-Asian sentiment and aggression due to the coronavirus. It's sad to think that a year later, several dim sum restaurants are no longer in business or are at risk of shutting down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope when we reach herd immunity and can meet in large groups indoors without masks, we'll still be able to do our dim sum runs. 

— Lillian

The very last fun I did before the pandemic shut down the world was go to karaoke on St. Marks. Two of my friends from out of town were visiting. We booked a private room and sang and then when our time was up we joined a stranger’s room and sang with them. It was a hilariously weird night that would not be at all possible right now. We ended the night at the bar Marshall Stack and stayed out til 3a.m. A week later our lives changed unimaginably.
— Grace Wilson

My friends and I had floor seats at the Hall & Oates Concert on February 28th, 2020 — the sold out crowd was FIRED UP, and singing all the words to every song (can you imagine? 10s of 1,000s of people all singing maskless indoors??). We were toasting our neighbors and dancing to every song (with the obligatory claps in "Private Eyes") — even Amy Poelher and Rachel Dratch, who were two rows in front of us, were rocking out. 

— Alex B, FiDi

The last fun thing I did was seeing Riverdance at Radio City on Wednesday, March 11th, which ended up being the last performance of their 25th anniversary tour. In retrospect we probably shouldn't have gone. The tickets were a Valentine's day gift to my fiancee and intended to be our last night out before we were to be married the following week. After the performance (which was great, but I found it hard to focus) we sought out a ramen restaurant before heading home. The restaurant would normally have a bit of a wait from the after-theatre weekday crowd in Times Square, but there were only two couples in there including ourselves. The paranoia really started on the subway ride home — open mouth coughing riders, trying not to touch the pole, my face, suddenly aware of the stale air on the R train. We agreed we couldn't be in public leading up to the wedding and would be working from home going forward. We had already canceled our Japan honeymoon, and the "just checking in" texts from guests started in earnest. Guests flying international, those with young children, an immunocompromised uncle, and more sent their regrets. New Rochelle was under quarantine, the national guard was called in but things still seemed containable. Wash your hands, cover your mouth, maybe wear a mask, and we'd be fine. Things came at us fast on Thursday, which ended with a European travel ban, Broadway canceled, a state of emergency, and our companies declaring remote working. Our guest list had dropped by more than a quarter and I threw away the seating cards. Less than 24 hours later, on Friday the 13th, we called the wedding off.

— Alex F., Astoria

The last "fun" thing I did before lockdown was go to the Celine Dion's Courage concert at Barclays Center on March 5 in Brooklyn. It felt bizarre because at that point people were starting to question how safe it was to gather. I'm pretty sure I turned to my friend and said, "I wonder if we're all just giving each other COVID!". I remember going to the men's bathrooms and noticing that for once the men were all lined up at the sinks to wash their hands thoroughly!  And yes I got caught in that massive Celine Dion subway sing-a-long that happened spontaneously (which Gothamist covered). It was pure JOY to end on that high note before everything shut down.

— David Ninh