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On Zoom, Baltimore Clubbing Goes On


Jessica Hyman, a Baltimore artist who performs under the name DJ Trillnatured, started off her Saturday night set like she would any other: by playing a cascade of feel-good beats designed to get her audience moving.

But unlike most nights, that audience wasn’t flanked around her. Instead, they were dancing on Zoom, a free video conferencing website that’s hosted scores of virtual happy hours and celebrations, and now, makeshift Baltimore clubbing. 

As the novel coronavirus pandemic worsens, Maryland’s stay-at-home order means many are spending weekend nights on their couches. But with Zoom, good music and creative partygoers willing to turn their homes into make-do dance floors, a whole lot of revelry can ensue. Baltimore’s Creative Alliance, an arts and education group, organized Saturday’s dance party in an attempt to celebrate and connect amid social distancing. 


Besides Hyman, Saturday’s partygoers’ sounds were muted in order to preserve the music but video streams were broadcast — meaning about 80 people showed off their dance moves as they moved in rhythm to the beat.

An anonymous partygoer dons a face mask and Power Plant Live! Zoom virtual background.

Some people transformed their kitchens and living rooms into clubs through sparklers and disco balls. Others used Zoom’s virtual background function to create a visual club atmosphere, like one partygoer by the username was Carol Baskin -- a nod to Netflix’s viral Tiger King documentary -- who appeared before an image of Power Point Live!, a Baltimore music venue. Another placed themself in front of an image of a cheeseburger.  

Still more partygoers showed off pets, drank wine and smoked. A group of roommates danced in eerie unison in their kitchen; another group played a game of pool. A drag Susan B. Anthony even appeared for a minute.   

It’s a strange time to be alive: the isolation of social distancing has been extremely hard for many, and millions have been unexpectedly laid off. But as the partygoers danced to the same rhythm across the city, they were able to replicate some sense of normalcy.

The Creative Alliance will host more Zoom parties throughout the pandemic. Details here. 


Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.
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