Welcome to Stay the F— Home Bar
The world’s first online bar — a design studio’s creative solution to the loneliness of social distancing.
With governments enacting quarantines and businesses sending people home to work remotely, a lot of people are losing their minds. People are social creatures, and those talk-to-me-chemicals (science term) in our brains are not going to stop pumping. Enter: Stay the Fuck Home Bar
With restaurants and bars closing down, a group of designers from Saint Petersburg called the Shishki Collective set up an online bar conceived out of the #staythefuckhome movement. It is a BYOB virtual video-conferencing bar without borders where people from all over the world can meet, have a drink, and try not to lose their collective minds by supporting each other.
I stopped into the “English, do you speak it?” room and was surprised to find it quite lively. The number #1 topic of conversation:
Working from home is lonely as fuck.
It is one of the world’s greatest experiments in be careful what you wish for. Going to the office can be dull and annoying, but sitting on your butt at home turns out to be not so great either. Stay The Fuck Home Bar is doing its part to make this a bit easier. As an added perk, this bar is full of people all over the world, so you don’t have spend your time avoiding townies. Currently, there are four rooms with no borders:
With more to come.
While there, I had the opportunity to talk with a number of people, which currently are mostly Russians, but living all over the globe. I had the chance to talk with people in Spain, Estonia, France, and Russia about quarantines, alcohol sales, everyone’s hoarding habits (buckwheat in Moscow, garlic and potatoes in Tallinn, weed in Barcelona).
When I first came into the chat, there was only me and an older man with a bottle of scotch. Sadly, not being as well-endowed, I grabbed a beer from the fridge and joined him. He was a marketer for alcohol brands and was about to get on a conference call to discuss different ways for their clients to stay profitable in this time. “So,” he said, “I saw this bar and came to check it out.”
A few others joined and the man left for his conference call.
An alcohol distributor named Alexei in Estonia told us about how a fake news story about the government restricting the frenzy of alcohol had sent citizens into a buying panic. “It was crazy,” he said, “but, of course, good for us.”
A Russian man with the username ‘Ganji’ told me about what life is like in Barcelona. “It is a 600 euro fine for being caught on the streets without purpose. My friend was going to buy a car yesterday and he ran into a police officer who asked where he was going. When he told the police officer the truth, he was told that he’d better get 600 euro off his new car.
Many people popped in just to listen for a while, but many stayed to chat. A lot of the sentiment centered around the craziness of being in self-isolation. A Russian woman living in France said that there was a 30 Euro fine for French folks going out, but, she explained, “They are French, so they are going to enjoy life how they want anyway.”
Of course, when the topic of toilet paper and guns came about, screens were turned on me. “Why does everyone need toilet paper?” Everyone wanted to know. The whole situation is “pizdets” they told me, and then started to explain what pizdets means (a rather rude word in Russian), before I told them I was well aware and agreed. “And, why are Americans buying guns? Is it to steal toilet paper? Fight criminals? What?”
“Nobody knows,” I told them. “Americans are a little crazy.” This was met with a general round of nods.
All-in-all, it was quite surreal. Everyone seemed eager to just talk and commiserate and everyone wanted to learn about how things are going in everyone else’s country. With a month of chaos and misinformation in our wake, it was refreshing to find a place where people were trying to be people and find usual comfort in this very unusual situation.
After all, we’re in this shit-show together.
This is what their website has to say:
We are not ready to give up having fun and enjoying people even when the world is barreling headlong into an apocalypse light. That’s why we’ve created the STFH Bar: an online bar where you can stay isolated and still connect with people you love. It’s pretty much like phone sex — pleasant, safe, & disease-free.
1. everyone is welcome
While borders are closing, we are welcoming everyone from everywhere. Join in, because, well, why the hell not? All of your other plans are probably bullshit & dangerous.
2. it can be too crowded, of course.
But at least you won’t be having to shout over anyone to get a drink.
3. and, sure, it can be empty as well
People may end up getting occupied with buying disinfectant, food, masks, and doing the whole surviving thing. You could be left with only a bartender to talk with, or sometimes only the void, but no worries, we’ll be back soon.
4. borders closed; hearts remain open
Connect with people while staying safely isolated.
You are free to hang out with everyone in the main room or go into other ones with your friends (if there’s space).
6. enjoy people in a way you could not before
Socialize, make friends, and get the best out of this online format by connecting and relaxing in the company of people who are alert, yet looking to make the best of this global shitshow.
7. drink responsibly
BYOB, but remember that we don’t have a bartender to stop you and kick your ass out. So, do not overreact and enjoy responsibly. Consider getting (some) extra food (not buying out the whole shelf of Campbell’s chicken soup) to stay at home longer, and away from crowded areas.
8. online is not everything
Online bars are cool (clearly). But we’ve made it for those who feel lonely and abandoned during isolation. So, enjoy the STFH bar when you need it, but remember your loved ones and stay close and connected with them.
So, cheers to your health, and welcome to STFH Bar
With bars and alcohol companies already reaching out to start their own bars and offer sponsorships, this is only the beginning. If you’re curious about what’s going on in other parts of the world or just want some company, I’d recommend checking it out here.
originally published in Russia Beyond.
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