A virtual bar where everyone knows your name

Virtual drinks has become the new way of hanging out during the self-isolation period, with people getting together for weekend quarantinis and morning editorial meeting mimosas (actually, maybe that’s just us) via video apps like Zoom.

While that comes with some advantages (the drinks are a lot cheaper, and there are no drunk people bumping up against you all night), it somehow doesn’t feel the same without a wobbly bar stool and a jukebox playing our favourite songs.

Toronto agency Blackjet is attempting to replicate that whole “going out” experience with a new initiative called the Social Distancing Social Club. It features a series of Zoom backgrounds for your drinking establishment of choice, a Spotify playlist and even bar trivia.

“Even if we have these face-to-face calls that fill us with some level of joy, they don’t replace being in the same place with friends,” says Blackjet CEO Rob Galletta. “We started to think about how we could put something out there that was positive and fun and augmented the trend that everyone was jumping on.”

The downloadable Zoom images include a dive bar (which has proven most popular choice), a beach bar, a tiki bar, a disco, a lounge and a cocktail bar. There are also video backgrounds, with the dive bar featuring drifting cigarette smoke and flickering lights, and the disco bar featuring beams of refracted light from a disco ball.

The agency has also created a dedicated Spotify playlist for each “establishment,” populated by songs like AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” (naturally), disco hits from the likes of Chic and Donna Summer, and a whole lot of Jimmy Buffet.

“It just takes our mind off the doom and gloom and gives us something positive to thing about,” says Galletta, who says that Blackjet has even been using the bar backgrounds during client calls. “It’s kind of like changing the boardroom every time you’re in a meeting,” he says.


Chris Powell