Where were you on Friday 6th of March? Maybe you were at The Old Fish Market pub
sharing a Colin the Caterpillar cake in honour of First Friday Bristol’s first anniversary.
Perhaps you’d joined the London crowd on the Balls Brother’s mezzanine? Maybe you
hadn’t fancied First Friday that month and thought you might pop along in April instead.
I probably would’ve chatted a little longer, toasted a little harder, and taken up the offer of
a group hike the next weekend if I’d known ‘ordinary’ hang outs like these would come to
be rare treasures over the next few months.
But with little warning, the nation shut down into preservation mode and as a Fresh Light
Events team we had to adapt overnight. The mission – to create chances to meet, chat, and
connect – was the same. The means became very different; in the virtual world.
The call to keep people connected felt even more urgent as many in our community live
alone. So thank you to all who’ve joined us on the varied roller coaster of online socials –
from board games and stand-up comedy, to elaborate quizzes and DJ sessions, breakfasts,
lunches and increasingly random icebreaker topics.
There have been some unexpected perks to moving our socials online.
We’ve welcomed people from all over the UK, who live too far away to attend our In-Real-Life events. Shout out to so many West Midlanders who’ve come along.
We’ve been able to get international – including gatecrashing New York’s First Friday style social and Free and Fit pioneer (Hi Tim!) enabling us to catch up with others with a similar vision.
For those who’ve previously been a bit nervous about coming along to one of our events,
it’s been a low risk chance to check out the people and the vibe. And, apparently, we’re not
that scary as several newbies have returned more than once.
The in-app function of randomly shuffling small groups every so often means you avoid that
bit in a bar where you can get stuck in one conversation for the whole night and never meet
Then, of course, there’s no travel time which is as close as I’ve ever got to my dream of
being able to teleport, and the bar is much cheaper at home.
So this Friday 3 rd July – the day before Independence Day – we’ll be hosting First Friday on
Zoom once again. If you’ve not been yet, the format is a mix of ‘main room’ chat and the
occasional game using the app’s whiteboard feature. But most of the time is spent split into
randomly assigned small groups for easier mingling with conversation starters which have
ranged from food, travel and films to super powers and important topics like who your first
guest would be on your own fantasy chat show. Just like one of our bar events, people pop
in and out throughout the evening, which runs from 7-10 P.M. If you have been before, I
hope you’ve been sharpening your Pictionary skills.
Now, the nation is changing gear again, perhaps this Friday will be the last such virtual get
together; but perhaps not. We’ll be keeping an eye on the ever-evolving rules around things
like the pubs reopening next week and working out the best ways to, you guessed it,
#MeetChatConnect. But to get planning, we need your feedback.
What do you think Fresh Light events should look like going forward?
Are they a hybrid of online and In Real Life? Are you hoping to not leave your house for the rest of the year, or planning to have an elaborate ceremonial farewell as you can finally uninstall
Zoom? Will things slip back to how they were or will we meet in smaller ‘pods’ for socials
from now on?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this anonymous 5-minute survey.
In the meantime, hopefully see you soon; even if it’s only on screen.
Cher and the FL team