Being in the middle of a pandemic is difficult to find a space that is considered a safe environment. Acknowledging the many aspects you have to contemplate now before going out to meet your friends or simply have a pleasant lunch with your family can be overwhelming. Even more challenging to state that finding a public space that not only makes you feel safe but can also feel welcoming is hard.
Looking back at this past year realizing how much COVID impacted our lives, in conversations with my friends we all begin sharing our experiences about how our social life was impacted and how we adapt to this unknown situation. One particular place was brought up by many in this conversation Central Machine Works, a brewery with a spacious outdoor area, a beer hall, and an amazing food selection. This was our place, the place we felt safe and welcoming to have a good time with our friends, significant others, pets, and family. This is the main reason I decided to choose Central Machine Works as my setting to study public behavior.
My study was analyzed using Ervin Goffman’s theories of behavior in public places as my framework. Analyzing behaviors like how individuals present themselves both externally and in their expressions, communicative behavior; following their “body language”, information, and adaptation all of this happening in a specific setting.
I visited the space a couple of times, relaxed there for a few hours, and simply observed the behavior around me while taking notes and photos using this framework to find more specific behavior.
After analyzing my data I realized most of my findings were about people’s presentation and how much this can serve as a form of non-verbal self of expression.
How people present themselves can be extended to a form of self-expression, a specific occasion, or a reflection of the times we live.
On my first visit;
- I spotted a bachelorette party. Yes, this was an easy one to identify, the bachelorette is proudly wearing a tiara and a sash, but what about the rest of the crew? Well, they were not wearing anything special but they had a very distinctive straw that made them stand out from the crowd.
- A couple of girls look like they put in a little more effort than some others. They were wearing lipstick and a cute dress. After some time passed by I realized they both were on a date hence the reason for them to look extra cute on a Friday afternoon at a brewery.
- I think the reason these girls stand out from the afternoon crowd was that everyone else’s appearance was more laid back.
- In the afternoon people look nice, but they were wearing casual clothing like shorts and a cap, or a t-shirt dress and sneakers.
- As the sun began to set, the overall look of the people coming in was slowly beginning to change. People start to look less casual, more polished, still wearing sneakers but more elaborate makeup, the boys, wearing shorts but no cap and nice hair.
On my second visit, it was Easter Sunday;
- Everyone was looking more polished than on my last visit.
- Girls were wearing dresses and hats, men were wearing hats too, even when it wasn’t sunny at all. I think this was because of two reasons. One is that it was Easter Sunday and the second one was because it was a Sunday. Sundays have become more of a going out ritual than before, most of the people don’t work so you have enough time to look nicer than the rest of the week.
- Some people were wearing bunny ears, a holiday touch you can add to your outfit.
- You could even spot some people with confetti on their shoulders. It was interesting to backtrack the story of whom might it be the one that crushed the easter egg on their heads, Was it a younger nephew? Was it a daughter? Or was it another adult?
- I find out that a brewery that makes you feel so welcomed and safe can become a familiar place.
- This is a place where you can bring your dog, come in after a bike ride, have a date, or dress nicely for a weekend night out.
- That casual Fridays have a whole different meaning after COVID because there’s nothing casual about a social gathering anymore. We used to take these unplanned encounters with loved ones so lightly, but not anymore, it made us reconsider and value more the time we spent together and we want to make it memorable. Because socializing became a limited activity during this pandemic you embrace and share your best version of yourself in every single aspect you can.
As a result, because our social interactions are more limited, each one of them can have a significant impact on your life. Being this the reason why now we put more thought behind it. Analyzing more every single detail before going out has become our going-out-ritual. Does this begin with what I’m going to wear? How do I want to look on a Sunday? Is it someone’s birthday? Should I save this dress for a special occasion or the fact I’m going out in months makes it special already?
Being more conscious about our limited social interactions has made us reconsider how valuable is the time we share with the ones we enjoy the most and that itself in present times is a special occasion.