After a year of COVID-19, memories of paying $15 for a gin and tonic, glow-in-the-dark entry stamps and losing friends in the crowd are fading. Some Winnipeggers, however, are finding ways to bring bar culture home.
Lindsey Anderson is creating nostalgic bar videos on TikTok, and the Good Will is producing The Good Will Stay at Home Club, a quirky, new, virtual variety show hosted by Joanne Rodriguez, a.k.a. Miss Jojo, featuring lots of puppets.
Anderson (@iamlindseywithane on TikTok), was skeptical at first about the app where users make and watch short videos. However, “the app has brought me so much joy I don’t think I would have otherwise had,” she says.
Her series Winnipeg Bar History consists of flowchart-style videos that cover name changes of bars over the years. Anderson was inspired to create more Winnipeg bar-focused content after a TikTok video she made asking which bars people visited for their 18th birthdays gained traction.
A desire to “highlight cool stuff that’s on the peripherals of the bar” also inspired the Good Will Stay at Home Club, Mike Requeima, a member of the creative team focusing on production, says.
The project is “Mike’s brain baby,” Ava Julien, a member of the creative team focusing on puppets, says. “It’s a cradling of local culture, business, community, as well as a homage to ’90s puppet culture.”
“It’s a way that we found to try and engage with the Good Will’s patronage,” Requeima says. Although recreating the real show experience isn’t possible, he says they’re doing their best to replicate it.
The DIY nature of the show helps, and “when you’re watching something live, that’s part of the appeal, that (anything) could happen,” Requeima says.
“I think people aren’t meeting each other anymore, so to have these interactions through puppets and through Joanne helps pull people in and make the audience feel included,” Julien says. She says the active live chat on YouTube during the stream was a key element to catalyze interaction and a sense of connection for viewers and performers.
The “overwhelmingly positive” comments section on Anderson’s TikToks are also full of Winnipeggers reminiscing about drunken nights and requesting that Anderson cover their old favourite watering holes next.
“Kids and parents have been going to the same bars since the dawn of time in this town, and I just kind of wanted to show that,” she says.
The real goal of the the Good Will Stay at Home Club is to promote non-profits and local businesses, helping people promote their stuff and bring awareness to resources that are accessible to folks right now, Requima says.
“It’s like when you put a vitamin in a piece of cheese,” Julien says.
Thanks to grants from Kinaxis InConcert and Safe at Home Manitoba, they have the infrastructure in place for the streams and funding for a few episodes. They’re looking for submissions, feedback and sponsors to keep what some audience members described as “the coolest thing they’ve seen in a while” going and growing, Requeima says.
Anderson’s club days are behind her, but she currently misses live shows. “I would love to be in a very crowded room watching some bands right now,” she says.
The next Good Will Stay at Home Club streams March 12 on YouTube. Feedback, submissions and potential sponsors can contact the Good Will at email@example.com.
Watch Anderson’s Winnipeg Bar History videos on TikTok @iamlindseywithane.
Published in Volume 75, Number 20 of The Uniter (March 3, 2021)