November 30, 2021No Comments

Redefining the Lions: How British Football needs to Change

Honestly, I’m not an avid football watcher or even a regular football watcher. But every now and then the England football team gains momentum in a tournament (recently the Euros). I get swept up in frenzy along with half the country. The new success of a team brings a certain atmosphere to ' We’re told ‘it’s coming home.' While ‘it’ didn’t quite make it home during Euro 2020, something much more negative made its way through the country. Aimed at several players in the team, as well as members of the public. Racism has made its home in the football community and continues to be a defining factor. The growing anti-racism movements that have been taking place both inside and outside the football community have yet to make a real impact. 

A Brief History Lesson On The Three Lions Symbol 

The Lions first became a symbol of England as a flag in the 12th century. The flag was used on the battlefield in Britain as well as across Europe and the Middle East. While any lions that may have lived in Britain had died out by the creation of the flag, the lion was and still is a symbol of strength and bravery. If we then fast forward to 1872 when the first international football game is held between England and Scotland (BBC Home).

The English Football Association need to find an emblem that represents true ‘Britishness’ and decide on the three lions. The football logo also bears ten roses, reminiscent of the Tudor rose, another statement of British history. The use of British symbols in the England teams’ logo isn’t something unique to the team in football, or sport in general. Most sports teams use something unique to their place of origin for their logo. Several other teams in football alone also use a lion in their team logo, such as the Dutch national football team. 

Euro 2020

The England football team made it to the final of an international tournament for the first time in sixty years. This drew comparisons to the 1996 tournament when the team made it to the semi-finals of the Euros. Then, it was Gareth Southgate who missed the penalty, blinding England's place in the final. While Southgate received criticism in ‘96, many were concerned about his mental health and how he would surpass the mistake.

The year when England lost the championship due to penalties, the hate that Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and other members of the team received was explicitly racist and cruel. The incredible racism that these players faced may have only been from a minority of football fans, but the hate almost drowned out the support the team received and thanks to social media. It felt like the barrage of hateful criticism was spiralling.

For Gen Zedders (my generation), the three lions don't hold much significance. Personally, I knew the logo of the English football team was three lions. International championships aren't exactly the English football teams forte. It wasn’t until the team began to have some success that I began to have an interest in the team or the sport.

While the world was battling a global pandemic, Marcus Rashford took on the challenge of providing three million British children with free meals after the government voted against it. Rashford’s campaign raised £20 million by June of 2020, and the government soon repealed their decision. Other players such as Jack Grealish and Jordan Pickford also grew in popularity over the pandemic on social media during the Euros but did not receive the same amount of backlash as other members of the team.

The Issue

Racism has become more overt in the football community and the famous crest has become a staple of extreme nationalism. Many players who are people of colour have experienced racial harassment online. Data shows that 10% of football games in the 2019-2020 season had a reported racist hate crime (Sky Sports)

Racism isn’t only directed at the players, but football fans too. In 2015, a black passenger was pushed off a train in Paris by white fans. Who were chanting ‘we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it’ (Chrisafis, 2017). This was one of the first times I saw and understood how much racism existed in the football community. It’s because of actions such as these that the three lions have taken on a new meaning, In particular, younger people are being put off supporting football due to its hateful actions (Sky Sports, 2021).

Looking at social media after Euro 2020 games, I’d see a mix of offensive messages. And support posts teaching tactics to protect from racially motivated attacks. It’s no surprise considering we’ve seen other English symbols become connected with racism and extremism, such as the English flag. The historic red cross on a white background, was adopted by the English Defence League, a group based on islamophobia. The meaning of these symbols have negatively evolved, but it may be too late for the three lions to revert.

Culture Shifting

Culture Shift asked readers what the three lions mean for them. For David Chambers, the three lions has always been a hostile image. To the point that he hasn’t wanted to own an England football shirt. He felt as though footballers haven’t always helped prevent negative behaviour. ‘Footballers have been notorious for skirting their responsibility, socially’ David told us.

Some readers find the logo less linked to sport, it’s still ‘just a logo’, says Hiren Mehta (2021), wherever the three lions and similar symbols are seen in sports. If the logo was on a shirt, Hiren said he ‘wouldn’t feel a particular way about it.’ This new team along with Gareth Southgate have been stepping up to fight against racism in the sport. And small actions are beginning to evolve the meaning of the three lions as we see it. For Jamie Baker (2021), the symbol used to represent coming together in the football world - ‘we join under one force’ when players come from different teams across the UK and other cities.

Despite this coming together of players under the three lions, the logo now has a darker meaning for Jamie. Sports fans and the rest of society can’t unite on social issues such as Black Lives Matter meaning discrimination continues. Questions arise such as the fact Harry Kane and Harry Maguire, who both scored their penalties, are white men. As usual, the three men of colour who missed: Damon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, and Marcus Rashford faced more criticism. What would the responses have been like if it was the other way round?’ Jamie knew what social media would look like after the game even before looking.

What Needs To Be Done?

During the Euro 2020 tournament, we could see how football has the potential to be an inclusive and diverse community for a wide range of people. Both the male and female teams depend on people of colour, those from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.

As well as anti-racism campaigns that we have seen in the past year, there has also been a ‘Three Lions Pride’ campaign (Sky Sports) in support of players and fans in the LGBTQ community. The campaign gained support and many football players have worn rainbow laces to support the players and fans.

These are important steps forward for football but the fans must stand up and start challenging themselves. Those fans who continue to partake in racist or homophobic behaviour turn the game sour for all. It will take time, but following in this direction there is potential that the football community will change its tune.

Image Credits: Sky Sports

The racism we see in the football community mirrors that in everyday life. Although it is easier for everyday racism to be hidden in ‘jokes’ and offhand comments and not just blatant acts. Conversations and protests have forced many to confront how systemic racism benefits some people, while negatively impacting many others. Unfortunately, the fact that these conversations are now taking place doesn’t mean that much has changed anywhere.

Footballs Potential

Despite how it may seem, there is still the potential for the football community to turn a corner. Since Euro 2020, some fans who racially abused players online are facing charges, others face bans from football games. But there are still groups of fans who continue to commit racist and abusive actions against players and other fans of the sport.

This group may be small but still manage to steal the attention from those fans who act appropriately and even deter people like me who don’t watch football as regularly. However, football doesn’t have to be doomed to remaining a hostile community. We can make changes by standing up to the racist and hateful messages pedalled by a minority within football fandom. As the climate outside football changes, there’s hope that the culture within the football community will follow suit.

October 29, 2021No Comments

The late late review: Dave’s, we’re all alone in this together

Psychodrama was the album where we sat back relaxed and deeped life a little more than usual. We’re All Alone In This Together? Music that throws you into the headlights of Daves scars and life.

Like many others, ‘Location’ was the first Dave song I truly knew the words to and served the summer of 2019 quite well. But during a pandemic, the summers were ruined and the music stopped flowing for a while. Albums were left on hold, Kanye’s Donda and Drake’s CLB finally got their release date and Dave’s album dropped at the perfect time.

Dave’s second album comes at a time of freedom. Where I, you and Sandra from next door aren’t forced to take that Tesco shopping trip to buy unnecessary purchases. The clubs are open and they’re gasping for new music to fill the last two years of confinement. But this album seems to be less about freeing and more about thinking. It's a story, a movie in the making and the life of his mum (Juliet). 

Image Credits: Charlie

The Intro

Embodying a South London Shakespeare, Dave has created an album of soliloquies, speeches and acts. Its stories hold the weight that undeniably uplifts us out of our beds and makes us aim for bigger things. It’s more than an album but a story and artwork. Not to mention probably one of the best Dave has produced. 

Like a good story, this album holds a beginning, middle and end. Its storytelling angles create a solid structure and lead us through the album. Much like Romeo and Juliet itself, Dave sets the scene with an eerie opening, mumbles and grumbles of anger in song 1. “We're All Alone,’ opens the album with a fickle and subtle ode to suicide, culture and the past.

The outro of the song is interesting in itself, a voicemail (classic hip-hop move) from a movie agent? This song is like the opening soliloquy of Romeo and Juliet; it's a song of memory, past tense and has a ‘live in the past’ kind of flow and to be honest, what comes next is suspected from Dave. 

Act One

The party, dance and afrobeat style songs to follow are essentially act 1. ‘Verdansk’ so far the most popular track of the album holds a heavy snare beat and makes the perfect ‘shout these lyrics in the club’ vibe. But with a title that is literally a city from the game Call Of Duty the song is the anthem for any special ops agents on their mission (for imagination only.) This song is followed by Clash ft Stormzy which was the first song to be released off the album. Its popularity has died down but the ‘one’ repetition is one to get in your head and has been a festival favourite (sorry Headie.)

The next song is one of the best and most powerful collabs on the album. Featuring Fredo, Meeks, Ghetts and Giggs the follow and not to mention the lyrics are near perfection. It's a whole ‘fire in the booth’ setting and the gospel beat behind levels up the capacity of the song even further.

Image credits: Charlie

The next song is slower with a lighter beat but much heavier lyrics. ‘Three Rivers,’ features Theresa May as well as vocal news reports, first accounts and open discussions. This song debates the violence and change in the middle east as well as the tension between Britain and the Windrush generation. It highlights social issues deeper than the rapper himself but sheds a light on the truth. The outro of this song is another voicemail reading ‘the tide will tell me being black is an obstacle.' And followed by life advice about identity, it's one that makes us think ore.

Act Two

We’ve come to the centre of the album, four songs each with a feature. WizKid, Boj, Snoh Aalegra and James Blake make these three songs about culture, partying and living. System featuring ‘Africa's biggest artist,’ has that ultimate Afrobeat style, bring the drink and we’ll bring the party type of vibe and it's not surprising it's one of the albums best songs.

However, ‘Lazaras’ (meaning God has helped)  brings a vibration unmatchable. It brings politics, a genuine beat and an incomparable flow. Boj brings the Nigerian lyrics adding that spice to the song but Dave's flow on this one just projects his impeccable talent and it's a Culture Shift favourite. ‘Law of attraction’ produced by JAE5 is a slow-moving and easy listen to song. The Snoh Aalegra feature on this one fits perfectly with Daves love struck verses, definitely made for the girls.

The last feature song opens perfectly on the theme “who’s your Juliet? What's the dynamic between the two leads? I guess we’re all just looking for a happy ending somewhere.” ‘Both sides of a smile’ featuring James Blake brings back that eerie setting at the start of the album but this time with a stronger essence of pain. Dave uses the lyrics to the best of his ability and questions his own actions, process and life. And after verse 1 comes a huge change in lyrics. A female vocal spouting anger, hate and hurt leads elegantly but abruptly on the beat and is followed by a chord change. This song is different from the rest and closes the feature section flawlessly. 

Act Three

After those four very different and exciting songs it's predictable that Dave gives us a softer contradicting ending. He wants us to take something powerful from this album and really hones down what he is good at (piano and storytelling.) The next three ‘twenty to one’ ‘Heart attack’ and ‘Survivors guilt’ are the last act of this movie soundtrack. Juliet had found Romeo by now and the reality of death, life and love is coming to a close. Time is coming to an end and in ‘twenty to one feels a rush of reality and is three minutes of soft vocals, harder beats and fast spat lyrics. This song isn’t a stand out at all but adds to the story of the album.

The next two outro songs get us thinking. ‘Heart attack’ is the most anticipated of the album and is said to be a follow on from Daves previous song ‘Panic Attack.’It begins in a similar way, we have a heartbeat, sirens and news reports of crime. It's an awakening song and the first line is matched to that of ‘panic attack’ reading ‘I bet them boys think I'm panicking,’ it's special and takes us to Dave's past as well as previous music that his die-hard fans recognise instantly.

This song really highlights London's violence and the impact it can have. It also has relations to ‘Lesley’ found on Daves Psyscodrama album with mentions of suicide and domestic abuse. This seven-minute song ends acapella with Dave’s mum crying out for help. Next comes survivor's guilt, a song with a sampled beat and the last in the series for a reason. It's heavy on culture, love and heartbreak. Dave is one of the only UK rappers to be honest and truthful about his mental health and this song is a reminder that ‘we’re all alone in this together.’ 

Overall review: 

The album for me hasn't lived up to Psychodrama but in all honestly, they’re completely incomparable. This album is NOT for us to listen to on the bus or on our way to work. It's an album to sit and listen to when we need it. Like Daves previous music it still carries that therapy session feel. The features could’ve been better but if WizKid is on the album we’ll take it. The best elements of this album come from the music, production and lyrical flow Dave has perfected. ​​Dave has shown his acting prowess on the small screen and has the ability to create atmospheric music and brilliant storytelling. Don't be too surprised if we soon see Dave behind the camera on the big screen as a filmmaker.

July 29, 2021No Comments

How hip-hop and fashion struggle with masculinity

Men's fashion has been the continuous shadow of women's fashion for centuries. The stereotypes of men and fashion are smart, intelligent and practical rather than that of women which are considered decorative, impractical and pretty.

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November 12, 2020No Comments

How Female Rappers Became 2020s Hottest Brand Ambassadors

cardi b, megan thee stallion, saweetie brand ambassadors 2020

Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion and Saweetie. Images: Instagram

While women in Hip-Hop have been dominating the global charts (and headlines) for decades, marketable ambassadorship roles have historically been reserved for a different breed of celebrity - mostly white, mostly actresses or pop singers and mostly with a squeaky-clean public record. In the last few years, notable improvements to this lack of inclusive representation have been made (Rihanna for Dior, Beyoncé for Adidas) but 2020 has seen a more palpable shift in the push for brand diversity. This year, three multi-million pound companies tapped some of the most successful women in rap (Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion and Saweetie respectively), to represent their businesses at a global scale. A move that not only celebrates the commercially-successful careers of these female rappers but also openly recognizes the power of their international influence. Scroll down to read more about these game-changing appointments…

 

Cardi B & Balenciaga

Campaign Launch: September 2020 

 

cardi b for balenciaga

Cardi B for Balenciaga A/W20. Image: Balenciaga

“I like those Balenciagas, the ones that look like socks” Cardi B famously rapped in her 2017 hit ‘I Like It’ and fast-forward three years later – the 27-year old is now the first celebrity face of the luxury label in five years. Announced via two giant billboards next to the Louvre museum in Paris, Cardi’s campaign sees her in a form-fitting black dress – true to her own personal style – with a nod to motherhood as she lays down surrounded by children’s toys. Shot during lockdown, the campaign also separately features some of the House’s internal creative team who styled and photographed themselves in the collection, but Cardi’s appointment is by far the most publicized, and headline-worthy imagery.  

 

Megan Thee Stallion & Revlon 

Campaign Launch: August 2020

megan thee stallion revlon campaign

Megan The Stallion, Revlon's new Global Brand Ambassador. Image: Revlon

2020 may not have been a celebratory year for most but for Megan Thee Stallion, it’s undoubtedly one of her best yet. Boasting a number one hit with her Cardi-collab single ‘WAP,’ the Texas-based artist also won Best Female Hip-Hop Artist at the BETs and was revealed as the newest Global Brand Ambassador for iconic makeup label Revlon. The first female rapper in the brand’s history to ever hold this title, the news was announced on Instagram, where Megan proved she’s more than up for the job by insisting on doing her own makeup for the much-applauded campaign. “I feel proud,” the rapper told Allure magazine shortly after the announcement was revealed. “I’ve loved Revlon products since I was a kid, and the company has a history that’s real close to my heart.”

 

Saweetie & Pretty Little Thing

Campaign Launch: June 2020

 

saweetie for pretty little thing

Saweetie X Pretty Little Thing. Image: Pretty Little Thing

PLT has worked with a notable roster of reality stars and Insta-models over the years but historically, these partnerships have purely centered around a single capsule collaboration. This year, the e-commerce retailers reached out to ‘Icy Girl’ rapper Saweetie for a partnership deal with a more admirable goal in mind – raising money for Black Lives Matter. Launched in June as many BLM protests were taking place worldwide, 100% of all profits from the 48-piece ‘At Home With Saweetie’ collection were directly donated to blacklivesmatter.org. In a statement, the UK-based brand not only acknowledged Saweetie's drive to raise awareness for this cause, but also how the actions of brands during this time needed to be a force for change. “PrettyLittleThing understands how important it is to speak up, step up and take action. We are committed to implementing positive change and giving a voice to our community. Therefore we will be donating all proceeds from the At Home With Saweetie collection to Black Lives Matter. Because we know, we’re always stronger, together.”

 

Hip-Hop's unquestionable influence on fashion was recognized way before 2020, check out some of the most notable catwalk homage's from the 90s and beyond: https://cultureshiftuk.com/hip-hop-influences-fashion-designers/

August 28, 2020No Comments

Apple To Open Its First Ever Floating Store in Singapore

Credit: Getty Images

As if Apple stores weren’t slick enough already, they’re upping their game once again. The tech giant will open a new retail store like never before. 

The new Apple store is a pricey-looking, ultra-modern orb that floats on water in front of the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, adding to the already impressive skyline of the city. 

While the store is not open to the public yet, we’ve seen plenty of photos of the exterior. In preparation for the opening, Apple has a webpage devoted to the unveiling, which they’ve described as “a place we’ve made for you to capture your ideas and passions. It will be a space for you to explore, connect and create something new.”

According to reports from 9to5Mac, the store features “an elevated boardwalk and underwater passage connecting the pavilion to the shore and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.” Sounds pretty impressive, right?

Credit: @dezeen on Twitter

As night falls, the sleek orb glows in a multitude of colours, ensuring that passers-by can not miss it. With Singapore’s iconic skyline lit in all its glory as a backdrop, it’s most definitely a fixture best viewed in the dark.

The Apple Marina Bay Sands store is Apple’s third store to open in the city, with the other two located at Jewel Changi Airport and along the shopping hub that is Orchard Road. While there is no confirmed opening date for the floating store, Apple says it will be opening “soon.”

June 3, 2020No Comments

Minnesota Dept. Launches Civil Rights Investigation Into Minneapolis Police Department

Photo Credit: Glenn Stubbe

Following the needless death of George Floyd, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights have launched a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. Following pressure from protestors all over the world, the department is taking action.

George's death has been declared as a homicide following an official post-mortem. The results contradict the findings of the original post-mortem, which was ordered by the state. Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Floyd family, said: "Beyond doubt, he would have been alive today if not for the pressure applied to his neck by officer Derek Chauvin and the strain of his body by two other officers." He went on to say: "The ambulance was his hearse."

While Derek Chauvin - the officer captured on the video – who was initially charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter will appear in the court next week. Today, nine days after George’s death - Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar confirmed that the other three officers on the scene at the time have now been arrested.

While details of the charges are yet to be confirmed, Chauvin’s charge is expected to be elevated from third to second-degree murder. The raise means the maximum sentence he’ll serve has increased from 25 years to 40. According to some reports, the other three officers may face aiding and abetting second-degree murder charges, which also carries a maximum sentence of 40 years.

When Medaria Arradondo, chief of the city's police was asked why he fired the four officers, he said: "There are absolute truths in life. We need air to breathe. The killing of Mr Floyd was an absolute truth that it was wrong, and so I did not need days or weeks or months or processes or bureaucracies to tell me that what occurred out here last month was wrong." He added: "This was a violation of humanity."

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz discusses the civil rights probe into Minneapolis Police Department
Credit: CBSN

According to reports, the investigation will delve into MPD policies, procedures and practices over the past decade to "determine if the MPD has engaged in systemic discriminatory practices toward people of colour."

It what could be a real turning point, the investigation marks the first time Minnesota has launched a civil rights investigation against the state's biggest police department.

As the charge was served to the city on June 1, Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said she hoped for "quick changes" as the city works toward long-term changes. The charge comes after 40 Minnesota Democratic lawmakers have called for increase regulations on police in the wake of George's death. They will demand a total of 22 changes to legislation during a legislative special session later this month.

In one of the most significant changes proposed, the Democrats have suggested that the Minnesota country attorneys are stripped of their power to prosecute police killings, instead, handing control to the Minnesota Attorney General's office.

As the news broke, state Rep. Ruth Richardson, DLF-Mendota Heights, said: "I hope at this moment when I go home tonight, I can look into my own children's eyes and tell them this time is going to be different." She continued, "But I've had that conversation before, and still we're here."

Updates to follow.

April 14, 2020No Comments

Lockdown: A Link Up Between Artists And Fans

As social distancing has come into play, our screen time has inevitably increased. Thankfully, rather than leaving music fans to scroll aimlessly through our timelines for hours on end, artists have stepped up with some serious entertainment. Although tours have been rescheduled, releases are postponed, and real-life connection is on hold, fans seem to be more engaged than ever.

With social media entertaining the masses, Instagram and TikTok have offered huge opportunities for musicians to connect with fans. As music fans all over the world are entertained for hours on end, we're taking a look at some of the highlights from the past few weeks.

Record-breaking lives

Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you've probably tuned in to Tory Lanez infamous quarantine radio. If not, you've more than likely seen a wild snippet or one of the weird and wonderful trending topics. Yep, the almond milk and hand sanitiser trend was thanks to Tory. Nope, it wasn’t a shopping list.

Last week, as Tory called on some famous friends to join his Instagram lives, he teamed up with Drake. Unsurprisingly, the pair threw fans into a frenzy as they broke the record for hip-hop related IG live with over 315k viewers tuning in, surpassing 6ix9ines previous record. Along with Drake, the likes Megan Thee Stallion and DMX have joined Tory.

More recently, Tory's latest live streams surpassed 350k viewers thanks to a whole lot of twerking and a giant gummy sweet. The twitter reactions were PRICELESS. Although his live capabilities were stripped for a minute, Tory made his come back just in time for the release of his new album, The New Toronto 3. Long live quarantine radio and those incredible ad-libs!

Live producer clashes 

We've tuned in to a fair amount of clashes among heavyweight producers in the UK and beyond in recent weeks. Among the clashes, Skepta has stepped up for the UK grime scene as he's battled it out with Jammer and Jae5 in a light-hearted friendly. It's impossible not to be gassed after tuning it to that.

Of course, no clash would be complete without Wiley chipping in. ICYMI,  he took to Twitter to call out Drake, Ed Sheeran and Boris Johnson for a clash. Forever trolling.

Across the pond, hip-hop producers Swizz Beats and Timbaland went head to head as The Dream, and Sean Garrett were also amongst the musical masterminds getting involved.

Songwriter battles 

If you're an R&B lover, plenty is going on for you too. With an impressive five Grammy awards between them, Ne-Yo and Johntá Austin battled it out. The duo showered fans with a string of their great hits as over 40,000 viewers watched on. With Ne-Yo rolling out bangers including "Take A Bow" and his own jam "Sexy Love" Johntá came with the goods as he took a step back in time with Mariah Carey and Mary J Blige tracks on offer. It was nothing short of a masterpiece.

Unlikely duos 

As some artists are taking the time to jump on lives with fans, Davina McCall stepped up as she flexed her moves with NSG. That's right; a whole Davina McCall nailed the OT bop as fans were delighted to see her pop up. Branded as one "probably the best thing that's happened during this lockdown period" – you've got to check it out!

Showcasing new music 

Along with popping up on Tory's live, Drake has done his fair share of self-promotion during the lockdown period. In case you missed it, Drake took to IG live to preview a whole host of his upcoming music. As he streamed live alongside Mark from his OVO camp, Drizzy played out snippets of his unheard tracks as fans eagerly await his upcoming project. Not content with stopping there, he upped the game and released brand new track "Toosie slide."

Alongside the track, which is bound to become a TikTok hit, Drake stayed inside the four walls of his lavish home as he reinvented MTV cribs. In what looks like the home of a 40-year old mob wife, Drizzy showed off his fresh new dance moves to complement his playful lyrics as he debuted his latest offering.

Young T & Bugsey securing US chart success 

Perhaps one of the greatest musician successes to come out of lockdown is for Britain's very own rising stars, Young T & Bugsey. As their banger "Don't Rush" featuring Headie One has become a staple track for TikTok's #DontRushChallenge, they've flown up the US Charts. Earlier this week, they made it top the Top 20 in the US iTunes chart. At the same time, they sat at number 3 in France. While the fans have contributed massively here, this much-deserved success is ultimately the result of yet another fire offering from the duo! If you like the track, their mixtape Plead The 5th is sure to fill your quarantine days.

With artists digging deep to connect with fans, we can't wait to see what's to come. Even when social distancing is over, we hope this kind of thing lasts!

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