People the world wide are beating back the tedium of quarantine with joyful noise.
Residents in Wuhan, China, began shouting encouragement our their windows in January, after the lockdown commenced. Italians have sung "Volare" with their neighbors. People have launched synchronized applause for health care workers in every corner of the globe. (In Chicago, it's #SolidarityAt8 p.m.)
And every day at 5 p.m. on a block of Lake Park Avenue in North Kenwood, there is a 30-minute drum circle. A married couple blasts music from their front porch festooned with bright leis and ribbons while people bang out the beat with percussion and dance, faces covered, in front of their homes. Everyone keeps six feet away, but everyone is in it together.
That couple, Yakini Ajanaku and Jean Paul Coffy, who run a music-based preschool, produced a song that closes the celebration every afternoon. "Lake Park! Fire up!" goes the refrain, with a call-and-response, preceded with R&B, gospel or Latin-infused beats — they take requests from their neighbors — for the half-hour beforehand.
"As long as we are confined into our house, we are going to continue doing it with everyone on their porch and keep singing," Coffy said.
Ricky Jackson, down the block, started everything two weeks ago, banging pots and pans outside his house at the same time as people in Italy did the same to applaud emergency health care workers.
"I saw it on television and just said, 'Wow." To thank these people," he said. "It's just so uplifting and exhilarating after all the day, and no matter what, I'm just so lifted up."
Jackson said the effort grew slowly.
"I didn't know what he was doing, but it felt good. So then I brought my drum out the next day," said his neighbor, Ghian Foreman. "Then the next day, there were two or three more people. Now, it's the whole block. Everybody comes out and stands on their porches and that kind of thing. We get a chance to be together without being together, still being socially distant and everything."
"It's a way for all the neighbors to see each other, get to see some life, get a chance to disconnect from the news everyday for a little bit," he added. "After we hear the mayor and the governor everyday, we get to see life. We get to know that it's all going to be all good. We see the flowers blooming and the buds growing on the trees."
Residents said the block had been friendly but not necessarily close before the pandemic. "Most of the time, most of the people, they go into their garage. We never get to see people," Foreman said of his block of handsome greystones. "Especially right now in the springtime, we really haven't seen each other since last summer! So it's perfect."
Lisa Hinton, across the street, said she comes out most days and watches from her window, waving at Ajanaku, on others. Before the pandemic, she only knew a handful of her neighbors; now she sees them regularly.
"Even if we don't know each other's name, we're waving and speaking," she said. "Now I get to put eyes on people more frequently, so you know who's coming and going."
The event's popularity has led to strict social distancing recommendations: 10 feet. Hinton encouraged passing motorists to keep moving. Jackson said he fears the event becoming too much more popular.
But he offered advice: "You can drive by and stop by in your car, but start it on your own block! Do it on your own block. Get everybody involved. We're so disconnected; now's the time to come together."