As live event spaces across the globe go dark, live stream feeds flicker with a hive of activity as roadies and touring personnel take their talents to the internet, proving that technical expertise knows no physical proximity. Creativity often thrives under constraint, and quarantine is no exception. Lighting Designer, Luke Edwards of Cue Design has put this to the test by opening The Dirty Corona Virtual Pub – a safe space for roadies to talk about business, concerns, and best practices for financial and mental health – in the wake of COVID-19.
“The idea is to bring people together in a time of uncertainty and self-isolation,” Edwards began. “We want to give people an hour or so in their day where they can be distracted by a pub quiz, or chat about issues they are currently having.”
Flying high after spending the past year working as Lighting Designer for Jacob Collier, Jessie J as well as stints as Production Designer and Production Manager for Gary Numan’s 40th Anniversary Tour 2019, Edwards was keen to reunite with his friends from the road.
“Becoming a patron of The Dirty Corona Virtual Pub is straightforward. We’re open to all walks of the live events industry,” he said. “From friends to friends of friends, which pretty much encompasses the entire live touring and events family. The Dirty Corona Virtual Pub is home to a lovely bunch of people who want to have a moment of fun during this lockdown.”
Underplaying the patronage of the virtual pub, Edwards, in fact, plays landlord to whole range of punters – from designers to manufacturers, pilots and rental houses – all of which have been through the virtual doors of The Dirty Corona Virtual Pub in the past week.
Questioned what the response has been from visitors and other live events professionals so far, he replied: “They are enjoying it. One of the things people are struggling with is not being able to go out at the weekend so they have nothing to look forward to. This gives them something, however trivial, to look forward to. It breaks up the routine.”
As well as providing roadies with some well-needed jokes and laughter as a form of escapism, The Dirty Corona Virtual Pub also doubles as an online safe space for the industry. “My encounter with mental health issues in the past made me think that some people might need some extra support now,” Edwards continued. “When there are a lot of people in the pub, it’s all laughing and jovial and, when we only have a few people, the talk gets real about the pressures and hardships we are all enduring.”
Edwards speaks openly about the importance of mental health on social media, championing the work of registered charity, Music Support, which is founded and run by people from the UK music industry, for individuals suffering from mental, emotional or behavioural health disorders – including but not limited to alcohol and drug addiction.
Edwards expanded on the importance of generating a space for people to communicate. “People feel anxious about a whole host of things including worrying about money, or a loss of purpose, and I think people enjoy having a space for a safe conversation and no judgement,” he said. “It’s especially important to lend an ear to people and be open minded about their individual mental health and daily struggles.”
You can find out the next available meet up via The Dirty Corona Virtual Pub Facebook page, which posts timings and announcements regularly.