By Clare Mulroy
This article was first published December 28, 2020 in Tagg Magazine here.
For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, Jo McDaniel will be bartending without a mask on.
McDaniel, the manager of Washington, D.C. queer bar A League of Her Own (ALOHO) will host a virtual New Year’s Eve bash. ALOHO’s virtual party will feature live music from DJ MIM and special guests throughout the night.
“Our bartenders are going to be dancing and making cocktails. We’re going to have a good time,” McDaniel says. “Everybody can feel connected and we can be safe in our homes.”
Like many bars and restaurants, ALOHO has been working to maintain some sense of normalcy amid pandemic restrictions. The bar opened a “streatery” from June to October but was unable to accommodate space heaters for outdoor dining as the weather got colder. Now, McDaniel is trying to take advantage of virtual community events.
“When we brought things inside and it got really slow and less busy, that was when I was able to focus more on how we can still serve our community, still stay afloat, and really keep people connected, which is absolutely the mission of ALOHO,” she explains.
This paved the way for ALOHO to experiment with more online events. McDaniel says she was inspired by the Lesbian Bar Project comedy show hosted by podcast Dyking Out, which she appeared on as a guest in November.
When D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a shutdown of bars and restaurants at 10 p.m., McDaniel knew it wasn’t realistic to try to host an in-person NYE event.
With the help of Boiscouts DC, a marketing group aiming to create community awareness of local events for queer women, McDaniel began putting together the “Bring On 2021” event. The party will stream live on YouTube and feature commercials from local organizations and businesses. McDaniel says the planning process is exciting because she gets to collaborate with bartenders she hasn’t seen in a while. She’s also excited to see the community’s reaction.
“I’m just excited to give everybody a highlight of the D.C. community as well as our staff,” she says, “And just have a good time that feels reminiscent of the ALOHO we all miss so much.”
The ALOHO virtual NYE bash takes place on December 31 from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m on January 1. Tickets are for sale on Eventbrite. General admission is $20. The $50 ticket level gets you a cocktail kit swag bag from Republic Restoratives and ALOHO. The “Plus Swag for the Party Pod” tickets are $100 and include enough supplies for 10 cocktails.