Published April 10th, 2020 at 6:00 AM
The first week or so was reminiscent of the rare school night sleepover in elementary school, or perhaps the even more lawless first week in the freshman dorms.
The prospect of rolling out of bed and into the “office” made staying up a bit later to binge a few more episodes a little easier.
How hard could it be to look presentable from the waist up and be available online like we are already, almost all the time?
Bottomless home-brewed coffee has helped, along with working on the porch. But now, as one day rolls into the next and spring temperatures taunt rooftop bar regulars and patio brunch aficionados, working for the actual weekend calls for some creativity.
A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet that said something along the lines of, “Be sure to check on your extroverts.”
I thought about the college kids who had their final semester cut short, along with the recent grads and many of my friends in their 20s — the ones who look forward to coworker happy hours or had plans for a little March Madness in Vegas.
Not to mention the party that could have been Monday night on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence.
I was looking forward to Fools Fest, the annual gathering of inconceivable debauchery involving generations of University of Kansas Ultimate Frisbee alumni. April’s first weekend has been marked off by former members each one of the past 39 years.
“Fools” gives us the chance to do exactly what we can’t right now — play sports and party in close quarters.
The only previous cancellation was apparently Fools Fest 28, thanks to a late snowstorm.
Number 39 was virtual.
The Zoom conference call parties followed the same old recipe. The men’s alumni chat room told the current club members stories of packed sedans, powering through the night to Chicago for a weekend tournament in the late 1980s.
I don’t know what went on over in the ladies’ conference call, but I can imagine it was far more organized, with less shouting than in ours.
When the two groups convened, there were over 80 alumni to share a few virtual beverages and watch a montage of grainy clips of college days.
We still sang “Home On The Range,” but instead of with linked hands, moving as a human chain in an open field, it was from our webcam windows, “Brady Bunch” style.
Absent of a dance floor, the night felt surprisingly normal. There they were on the monitor, dozens of my closest friends and the most extroverted people I’ve ever met, checking in on each other.
While I begin hydrating for Fools Fest 40, here are few ways to get social despite the distance:
Nothing says you can’t use Zoom video conferencing for play. If you don’t already use the software to prove to your boss that you’re on the clock, Zoom allows users to chat one-on-one for free and offers screen sharing and recording capabilities.
If you want a Fools Fest-sized group in there, Pro plans ($19.99/month) allow up to 100 participants per conference room.
If sitting around staring at each other over the internet won’t cut it, consider downloading a party pack from Jackbox Games to your gaming system, Smart TV or Mac/PC. Jackbox offers a variety of different games that might ask you to doodle, write the best jokes, or answer hilarious trivia questions. Think Apples to Apples, Pictionary or Cards Against Humanity.
If whoever runs the Zoom meeting screen shares the Jackbox Game from their device, all the other participants have to do is go to jackbox.tv to play along.
If you are looking for more of the college feel, request to join Quarantine Beer Chugs Facebook group. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a virtual party of sorts where users do their best to slam whatever is in their cup. Proceeds from weekly live music streams in the group go to Feed the Northland Kids and the United States Bartenders Guild.
While you’re on Facebook, check out “Busking Down the House.” The online street corner currently welcomes more than 20,000 members to connect through music and support artists all over the world. Musicians can schedule a time to stream live or share pre-recorded material. Tips via Venmo are a thing, so bring your digital wallet along.
If you are one of those people who likes to talk during the movie or show, add the Netflix Party extension to your browser right now. While you could always Zoom or Facetime on the side, Netflix Party gives viewers a chat box to break down whatever is streaming.
It’s a great place to go over the Bob Ross drinking game rules.
Similar to Netflix Party, the JQBX app allows Spotify users to link up in the virtual DJ booth despite social distancing and share music in real time. Go song for song with someone or just sit back, relax and listen to whatever they are spinning.
If you are hesitant to hop on the TikTok train, I don’t blame you. The app’s popularity vaulted me, a 25-year-old, into a spiral of panic that I will never understand whatever the kids do on their phones these days.
TikTok is basically a combination of choreographed dancing and a resurrection of Vine, the short-video scrollable app that was discontinued in 2016.
If anything, it’s a good way to laugh away 30 minutes… or half the day.