It’s certainly been the strangest year most of us have experienced and much of how we go about our lives has changed. The Covid-19 pandemic has dominated our thoughts and actions and there is every sign that we still have a way to go, before vaccination and opening up of our borders.

During the six weeks of Lockdown Level 4, like many Kiwis I started to notice and value many things in my life that I had not given enough attention to, or found space to focus on new things. I know that was not a unique experience and was something that happened to many, many New Zealanders. At the time, I embraced it, thinking of all the advantages, while knowing the terrible circumstances that resulted for many because of enforced lockdown.

This past Labour weekend, I was confronted with a reminder of one of the things we did lose for a while and experiencing it again was not only fantastic, it was a sobering reminder of one of the important things that connects us as human beings.

My partner bought tickets for us to see a band at the Coroglen Tavern in the Coromandel. I had never been to the venue before and I had to think hard to remember the last gig I had seen in Auckland in February.

Labour Weekend has always been one of my favourite public holidays. it’s the first one since Queen’s Birthday in winter and it is a great precursor to summer – it’s nearly always hot and people get out of town, hit the beaches for the first time, or just relax and hang out with friends and family at home.

This weekend was a scorcher, the roads were filled with travellers and there was a very palpable sense of a freedom to be, that we haven’t truly felt in far too many months. It was three days that felt like a very long time indeed.

So on Saturday evening we travelled from Thames, not filled with too many expectations, just glad to be on the road and going to hear a live band. I didn’t then expect to be confronted with a happy, enthusiastic crowd who were overjoyed to be in the company of friends, as well as strangers. That was the moment where all the disconnection, all the lack of the immediacy of other human beings, because of enforced isolation, hit me. It was incredibly nice to feel that utter sense of joy that can come in the company of those we do not know, brought together to enjoy a concert, an event, a gig.

I spent a lot of time looking at those dancing, talking, smiling and realised that amongst all the loss and the hardship this year, there have been gifts as well. Rediscovering the enjoyment of others and getting lost in a crowd was absolutely excellent. I hope to do that over and over in the summer months, Covid willing. If this keeps up I may well think about attending a festival, even though it’s been  a few decades since the last one