Why I've Decided To Cancel All Upcoming Events
Updated: Mar 13
To my fellow goofy dancers,
I’ve decided to cancel all upcoming events until further notice to help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. This was not an easy decision for me or one that I took lightly. Here’s why I’m doing this and why I think it’s important for you to share this message.
As I type (5pm, March 11th) there are 453 cases of COVID-19 in the UK. 101 of those are in London. There are 10 million people in London. Should we really be panicking about 101 cases?
The answer is no, we shouldn’t be panicking because panic isn’t helpful, but we should be taking the situation seriously and putting people over profit. I feel a social responsibility as an event organiser to do my part and act while there are 101 cases, because the time to act is now. Right now, when the cases are still relatively low. Anything later than now is too late.
If you think I’m exaggerating, fear-mongering, feeding onto generalised panic, please stay with me and keep reading. Let’s go to Italy a few weeks ago to see what we can learn from there.
My family lives in Italy and they've been sharing updates. The first case in Italy was diagnosed on February 21st and the public reaction was to panic. People were avoiding each other, wearing masks and not going out. One week later, the economic impact of this reaction started to be visible. Small business, restaurant, events, theatres were suffering. Both the public and politicians took what they considered to be a more practical approach. The hashtag #milanononsiferma (Milan doesn’t stop) was trending. The message was to "wash your hands, be careful, but keep going on with your lives”. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? This is what our government is advising right now).
To support this message, Roman politician Nicola Zingaretti went to Milan on February 27th and took part in an anti-panic aperitivo. He later tested positive for the coronavirus and is now in self isolation. (Sound familiar? Our politicians are starting to be diagnosed with the virus as well).
People were going out, attending events, "business as usual" and that attitude created the current situation of total lockdown. They thought business as usual for as long as possible would be a smarter move for the economy but the fear of immediate economic damage has caused far bigger delayed economic damage due to the ease with which the virus spread. The virus is highly contagious. Virus carriers with no symptoms can still spread it, which is why caution is crucial.
On Feb 24th, Italy had 200 cases. If events, restaurants, cinemas, etc had closed then, things would be different now. So I'd like to lead by example, learning the lessons we can learn from Italy, and do my bit to prevent the spread.
Hospitals in Northern Italy have run out of intensive care units. Doctors are exhausted, in tears, having to decide whose life to save and who to turn down. They have run out of respiratory support devices. The criteria for saving lives is to prioritise who has the most years left in them. This means some people's grandparents will be left to die because other people's mums and dads need to be saved first. If my word is not enough, read this testimony from someone living in Bergamo, one of the hardest hit cities.
We need to act now to avoid this happening here too. I will lose money by cancelling my events but I will very gladly do that if it helps defuse the situation. I urge other event organisers to seriously consider this as well. Please be cautious and do what's right to protect the public.
Every day matters. The sooner we self isolate the less serious this outbreak will be.
This is not the end of Nobody’s Watching. It's just a break for now, although I'll look into online dancing videoconference options. I want to continue to create spaces for people to break out into song and dance and want to continue to do so safely and responsibly, putting people before profit.
This is a community that cares about other people. Rick, our most regular dancer, volunteers in so many places I’ve lost count. Natalie, a regular in the Sunday events, does amazing work in the mental health sector. Josephine, a semi regular in the Brick Lane events, is changing people’s lives one park run at a time. You are all amazing, empathetic, caring people and doing what’s right for other people is the most on-brand decision I can make right now.
Nobody’s Watching is based on the belief that life is more enjoyable when we take it a little less seriously. This doesn’t mean we need to take serious things lightly. We need to take serious things seriously, with a smile on our face. We need to do the right thing, find a way to brighten the mood, to support each other and stay hopeful. I'll miss you all so much! Keep dancing and singing and stay safe.
Founder, Nobody's Watching