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Vietnamese opt for home parties amid Covid threat

By Dang Khoa, Long Nguyen   November 23, 2021 | 04:59 pm PT
Vietnamese opt for home parties amid Covid threat
A group of friends party at home. Photo by Envato
Lack of convenience and fear of contracting Covid-19 are causing Vietnamese to party at home even when restaurants are reopened after the prolonged lockdown.

Phan Vu Duc Tuan picked up the phone one day in early November to invite five close friends home in District 8 for dinner.

Though the city had rescinded its stay-at-home order early last month, he did not organize his birthday party at a restaurant like he normally used to due to the 9 p.m. closure of all food and drink establishments and wariness of the pandemic.

The 29-year-old finally threw a belated party last weekend, 10 days after his birthday.

"I was a bit nervous, but I want to live my life and do it in a more responsible way," he says.

He ordered all the food and beer and "so it felt almost the same as a party at a restaurant."

"Like other people, I also have the Covid blues after being cooped up for too long. But I feel much safer partying at home while still not missing out on any of the fun."

The pandemic and closure of bars have changed the way Vietnamese party, with many deciding to bring the fun home.

After months of angst due to being cooped up, many people are yearning for social interaction and partying with friends to celebrate a life they are returning to and missed dearly.

Some are even partying to celebrate events that had occurred during the recent lockdown.

Kieu Oanh was celebrating her 22nd birthday with three classmates with hotpot and beer.

The Hanoian has come to terms with the fact the pandemic has taken away two years of her love life, but has decided to make the most of her youth now so that she would not "regret" it later. She says she is "having fun while hunkering down".

Another reason young people host parties at home is the availability of takeaway and delivery at restaurants, bars, pubs, and karaoke parlors.

In HCMC, many bars and pubs sell takeaway cocktails and other alcoholic drinks in bottles while karaoke chains rent out their systems.

Thuy Duong of karaoke chain Icool says: "Our systems are always available. If customers cannot come to pick them up, we will deliver them to their homes."

Many young customers, who were dependent on them during the lockdown, now continue to use these services.

Nguyen Thanh Long of District 3 says: "Drinking draught beer at home is cheaper than in restaurants because we do not have to order food. So I usually have friends over during weekends to drink."

While clubs and bars are still shut with no loud music for people to dance away, home party goers do not feel they are missing out on the nightlife since they have fun and enjoy the casual intimacy of friendships right in the comfort of their home and without the threat of Covid from strangers.

"Though I love dressing up and putting on high heels, I can also wear simple clothes like a nice top and a pair of jeans and not feel underdressed when going to house parties," Tran Ngoc Mai, 27, says.

"After all, the same principles still apply: we get drunk; at home; with friends; on a budget."

The current advances in home entertainment mean teetotalers can also have fun and engage in activities with friends.

Minh Tam of HCMC says he invites friends over for weekends to play video games or sometimes sing karaoke after spending the evening cooking and eating together.

"A good house party does not have to be crazy big, which is good during these Covid-conscious times. It also allows me to have a more meaningful time and bond better with my really close friends."

Mai says: "I am still nervous about interacting with those outside my circle, but I still want to enjoy my roaring 20s. So I prefer home parties with close friends."

Having fun while staying safe

As the vaccinated rate in Vietnam continues to rise, people are reclaiming their social lives.

In Hanoi, Nguyen Anh Thuy held a birthday party at home earlier this month, but asked all of her guests to prove their vaccination status before coming to her house.

Nguyen Anh Thuy holds a birthday party at her home in Hannois Long Bien District in November 2021. Photo courtesy of Thuy

Nguyen Anh Thuy holds a birthday party at her home in Hanoi's Long Bien District , November 2021. Photo courtesy of Thuy

"One of them got only one shot of a Covid vaccine, so I asked him to take a Covid test," she says.

People also make sure their friends feel safe.

"When I invited my vaccinated colleagues to my apartment for a party, I told them they are free to refuse," Nguyen Hong Nhung of Saigon’s District 3 said.

"The pandemic is still here and people can say so if they do not feel safe about partying."

However, many people still enjoy partying at restaurants, which were allowed to reopen in late October.

"I miss having beer and Korean BBQ with my friends, so here I am," Nguyen Thanh Binh of District 10, who is having dinner with friends at a beer restaurant, says. "Home parties are fun but not comparable to eating and drinking out".

Over 66.9 million people have been vaccinated, with more than 42 million getting two shots.

Health authorities are warning about the risk of another outbreak if people ignore safety measures.

The nation’s tally rose to nearly 1.14 million on Wednesday.

Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long warned that winter, including the Lunar New Year period in early February, could see new outbreaks if people let their guard down.

"Northern Vietnam is entering a cold period and Tet is near, meaning there will be many activities with large gatherings. We are worried about the risks of new Covid-19 outbreaks."

For party goers in Hanoi and HCMC, there is always a reason to have a get-together.

"We follow Covid guidelines, but we need to make up for a year lost in our lives, so home parties are the best choice," Nhung says.

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