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LA fights back against the Coronavirus with its own secret weapon: open-air commerce

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When stuck with coronavirus lemons, why not make lemonade?

In the continuing efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus, businesses in Los Angeles are getting creative. After Gov. Gavin Newsom released new guidelines for beauty services such as hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and massage parlors that prohibit any of these services to be conducted indoors, but that they could do so in the open air, an epidemic of new ideas was unleashed.

Those that have large parking lots, or adjacent green areas that could be used, began to brainstorm ways to make this not only possible, but even an improvement. Like outdoor dining, gyms, barbershops, nail salons and more are all setting up makeshift tents, gazebos and even shaded spinning classrooms to prevent spreading the virus while still living life and conducting business.

While it can’t be called business as usual, some of the west side businesses near the beach have shown true inspiration in “takin’ it to the streets” and have jumped right into the spirit, particularly in the case of the CycleBar in Culver City. After transforming their parking lot into a spinning / stationary bike studio and collaborating with Anytime Fitness to build a provisional outdoor weight-room and workout area, the results are downright celebratory…

Through the spread of Covid-19 continues, a glimmer of hope can be seen in efforts to live life while staying safe

If not for the masks and face shields, one might think these are photos from a spring fitness festival in 2018, long before the pandemic had clipped our wings and made such activities a challenge or even a danger.

Nearby on 4031 Sepulveda, in Culver City, Active Barbers have similarly set up shop on the sidewalk with a stylish and festive looking row of outdoor canopies, each with a full-on barbers chair adjacent to all the tools of the trade. Once again, the masks worn by the barbers and clients are the only giveaway that this is not part of a larger outdoor summer celebration.

Above: Photo Credit / PBS

Rose Bowl in Pasadena featuring Drive-in Films during July

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Another example of Angelenos taking things outdoors to find entertainment and relaxation is the Tribeca DRIVE-IN movie theater series at the Rose Bowl Stadium. Taking place during July on Thursday – Sunday. The Tribeca Film organization is also staging similar events all around the US this summer. In addition to Pasadena, CA events are planned for Orchard Beach – Bronx, NY, Nickerson Beach – Nassau County, NY, AT&T Stadium – Arlington, TX and Hardrock Stadium – Miami, FL.

These high profile venues are an addition to the wave of Drive-in theaters that have sprung up all over the US in response the the pandemic and the availability of large outdoor spaces that can be adapted for big-screen fun.

Drive-in Concert Series fights back against the dearth of live entertainment options

In another related California story, the LA Times chronicled the recent emergence of drive-in concerts at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Once again it’s the safety benefits of the open California sea breezes that are at the core of the drive to live outdoors and free. Recent acts performing to a sea of cars included the LA based Ska-Funk-Punk band Fishbone along with Ozomatli.

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Cars not directly encircling the stage where given an assist by large sports-venue like LED screens and an audio-assist via an FM radio signal, two hi-tech niceties that would have been missing if this were in the drive-in and drive-though era of 1962.

The producer of the concert series predicted that, sadly, a normal concert schedule with large indoor and outdoor venues being booked and where audiences do not have to be separated into cars, is likely not going to be a reality before 2022.

This reality, even if it turns out to be the worst case, is still an indicator of how all the business in this article are proving that necessity really is the mother of invention. With sales and traffic across some many industries “falling off a cliff” it will take drastic and wildly creative measures just for companies to survive, let alone prosper.

Indeed, the drive in concert series can only hope to bring in 10% of the usual number of people that would attend a similar bill at an indoor venue. The costs are higher and the income less, a formula, not for huge profit, but to make enough to keep all parties involved, from the artists to the producers to the production help and stage hands, above water until some kind of normalcy returns.

The overall impression from all these special business, however, is one of triumphant survival, resilience, health and strength. The exact qualities needed at this time in history, and not coincidentally, the same for which LA is known, along with Hollywood Movies, throughout the world.


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