After weeks of lockdown and social isolation, on Saturday night I decided it was finally time to go out and meet some new people. So, for the first time in weeks, I went to a bar. But instead of taking a tram or a train to one of the local hotspots, I just opened my laptop.
As the little blue loading wheel spun on the hosting platform, I imagined myself pushing open the door of an unfamiliar and windowless bar in Berlin, unsure about what I would find inside. As soon as I entered, eleven new faces popped up on screen before a backdrop of a wall of liquor bottles.
Everyone stopped what they were doing to greet me and asked where I’m from – that’s never happened in Berlin.
Alone Together Bar opened on April 6th and is run by one-woman-show Lydia Molensky, from the Netherlands and living in Munich for four years.
In the time BC (before Corona) Molensky worked as a professional socializing coach, with her business The Catchmaker which helps people who struggle to make new social connections with one-to-one coaching. But when the Covid-19 Crisis put her business on hold, she came up with the idea of opening an online bar instead.
“I still wanted to give people in my community the opportunity to connect with each other, so I started out by organizing online drinks.” When this proved to be successful, and people from outside of her local community started to join, she decided to open Alone Together Bar.
“At the moment I have one online bar open, which is open especially for internationals worldwide but depending how things develop, I would be happy to open more “local” bars and to get more hosts on board.”
Alone Together Bar founder Lydia Molensky is helping people stay connected
The bar is open every day between 8 p.m. – 12 a.m. and Molensky is present as a welcoming host and moderator, to help maintain a friendly and comfortable atmosphere.
Having a socialising expert present in the bar is definitely a big plus, as I saw first hand on Saturday night. When I arrived, I fell straight into a game of “Truth or Dare” in which I found myself quite quickly opening up to strangers about some intimate and embarrassing truths – and feeling surprisingly at ease with it.
“I try my best to give everyone a warm welcome, introduce people to each other and get the conversation going and use conversation games to keep it interactive,” explained Molensky.
I personally found that this helped to dissolve my own shyness and made the bar a relaxed and fun environment for both introverts and extroverts alike.
Everyone is welcome in the Alone Together Bar. Photo: DB
“No judgement” was the buzz phrase that evening, as most of us became slightly tipsier in our own homes. Another advantage of being in an online bar is that everyone can choose their own drinks and keep themselves topped up at will; the beverages of choice on Saturday included tea, wine, beer and homemade cocktails.
By the end of the evening, I felt like I had had a proper night out and made some interesting new acquaintances, who just happened to live thousands of miles away.
As to the future of the bar, Molensky is taking it day by day, but will certainly keep it running for as long as the Corona Crisis continues. The bar is run by donations and, at the moment, is able to host up to 12 guests at a time. If she is able to raise more money, she would like to expand and add more online bars.