Roughly 2,500 fans gathered Tuesday for the premiere concert at Britain’s first music venue dedicated to accommodating social distance. The Virgin Money Unity Arena, in England’s northeast in Gosforth Park, Newcastle, kicked off the first of its scheduled events with a show by English rock singer-songwriter Sam Fender.
The pop-up venue bills itself as the first of its kind, giving hope to an entertainment industry brought to a standstill by the coronavirus pandemic.
It has 500 separated viewing sites, most with raised metal platforms. The spaces are about 6 feet apart and fit up to five people, all of whom must arrive in the same car.
Guidance on the venue’s website directs attendees to join a socially distanced queuing system for entering the arena after parking, then to follow staff to an allocated platform and pre-order food and drinks on their phones.
Guests are not to leave the platforms unless they’re going to the restrooms, which are at the end of every row of platforms.
Promoter SSD Concerts, which announced the concept earlier this year, has more than 20 other artists on the schedule through September, including Two Door Cinema Club and Patrick Topping.
Recent attempts at socially distanced concerts in the US ― including an event in the Hamptons in New York, featuring a Chainsmokers DJ set that made nationwide headlines for its attendees’ apparent disregard of health guidelines ― have raised concerns for pandemic-era adaptations for entertainers.
The UK’s newest solution piqued the interest of would-be concertgoers there and across the Atlantic. Many commenters quipped they were more than OK with ditching mosh pits and interacting with strangers ― pandemic or otherwise.