We want to announce that, until further notice, the Saturday night Bongopix jam will be on pause. Ever since our jam re-opened on June 27, 2020, we have been blown away by how many people have visited our free live music night. In fact, our jam attendance has never been higher! We want to send a special thank-you to our community for embracing our live music shows, the support has been uplifting. We also want to thank all of our Camp Bongopix guests who have supported us by staying at our accommodations and enjoying the live music. At the end of the day, we are still in the middle of a global pandemic. Even though outdoor gatherings are the safest, and we are following the health rules, we do not want to risk the chance of our Bongopix musical gatherings to spread COVID-19 in the community. Below is our reasoning behind this difficult decision to take a pause from our live music nights:
Social Distancing Requires More Enforcement
When everyone is seated according to our pre-arranged, socially distanced seating plan, then yes, the Bongopix jam is very safe. The issue, however, is that people always begin to mingle with others. We are, after all, social creatures. Patrons often leave their seats – without wearing masks – and enter into foreign social bubbles. Believe it or not, we have witnessed this kind of risky socialization in people that are completely sober. And of course, when people are under the influence, they are even more prone to taking hygiene risks and breaking social distancing rules. We’ve never seen anyone maliciously break social distancing rules, although when people feel comfortable and happy, they seem to forget that we are still in the midst of a health crisis and act like it’s still 2019. The world has changed, we have to collectively evolve. When we re-invent the public Bongopix jam in the future, we will have barriers between groups of people to mitigate mingling. We could also use a bouncer to help enforce distancing, and to intervene when people start to get too close to each other.
Not Enough Masks
If you wore a mask a Bongopix jam, thank you. We noticed and we really appreciated it. Before people arrive at our jam we tell them to come with a mask. We also remind people throughout the performance to wear a mask if they leave their seat. As the hosts and head entertainers, we personally wear masks whenever we leave our seats. As much as we try to lead by example, not enough people follow. When we re-open our jam in the future we will have a strict mask policy where you can only take off your mask if you are sitting in your designated isolated seat. Of course, masks alone won’t stop the spread of COVID-19, but mask-wearing is one of the best tools that we have to prevent transmission of the virus. When you combine masks with social distancing in an outdoor environment, then it becomes even safer. Our jam is safe, but for our liking, it isn’t safe enough. When you return to the Bongopix jam in the future, you will be wearing a mask, or you can stay at home and watch online.
A Diverse Mix of Demographics
The Bongopix jam is a very unique experience because it attracts people from a wide range of demographics. Our in-person jam appeals to all adult ages, from the young 20-something, all the way to people in their 80’s. Locals visit us, and so do tourists (who come from areas where COVID-19 cases are confirmed and active). We regularly see elderly people and coronavirus-vulnerable people. We are so happy that our musical experience is enjoyed by both locals and visitors, but in light of the pandemic situation, and as owners/operators of the Bongopix jam, we feel we have a responsibility to prevent the risky kind of “social mixing” that leads to negligent virus transmission.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Ultimately, to continue the in-person Bongopix jam as it is, would be too risky for us. Yes, Ontario’s coronavirus news has been good. Yes, we are permitted up to 100 people outdoors. But people are beginning to let their guard down at an alarming rate that worries us. Our goal is to be able to host responsible and socially distanced outdoor musical jams. Currently everyone’s thirst for live music is making it challenging for us to maintain a safely distanced environment. Social distancing co-operation is still not yet an automatic habit for us all. Our registered cabin and lodge guests can expect live music in a smaller, more private, and safely distanced setting on Saturday nights.
We know how important live music is to the community of South Algonquin, and we are saddened that we have to begin this indefinite pause. We will continue to play music locally, although in different and more creative ways – that we are comfortable with. If there’s enough interest we may even organize a special “locals music night,” or we might just have to start charging for reservations in order to pay for the social distancing security. The bottom line is this: we feel the most responsible course of action is to pause our musical gatherings until we have the ability to enforce the social distancing rules more effectively.
Peace and Love from Whitney,