Summer Pop-ups Are Moving Outside

Kellie Ell

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COVID-19 hasn’t stopped the business of pop-ups. 

In fact, firms are finding new ways to reach consumers without going virtual. SoulCycle is offering outdoor classes in The Hamptons ($50 a bike). The Secret Summer Festival in New York City has re-branded into SSundaze, an outdoor cocktail and music social ($240 for three people).

And despite the price, demand isn’t slowing down anytime soon. 

“Everyone is longing to get out of their living room and into the sun and have a healthy experience,” Allison Du Val, owner and managing director of the Foundry, the space hosting SSundaze, told WWD. “You can see — just in New York City alone — the public parks are overrun with people; they’re almost on top of each other. SSundaze is really an elevated experience of that: people are dying to be outside, surrounded by plants and nature.” 

But the outdoor event won’t be the typical Secret Summer event, with 1,000 people packed into a single space for an evening. In the era of the coronavirus, only 60 tickets will be sold each night over the course of five or six weekends, with parties (no more than three people) divided up into 20 lounge vignettes at least six feet apart. 

“Having 1,000 people in a space is not practical anymore,” said Tyler Hollinger, owner of Highlife Productions. Hollinger has been co-producing the event for the last six years, along with The Foundry and Rapt NY, a catering and event planning company. “So we brainstormed and looked at what we could do in this current climate. SSundaze is a health and wellness event that’s about bringing people and ideas together on how we can best keep ourselves healthy,” he said. 

The multi-weekend event — rather than the usual one-off date — along with the higher ticket prices will help compensate for the limited volume of tickets available. (Hollinger said the 1,000-person events of the past almost always sold out.) Tickets for the first SSundaze are nearly all gone, he added, with the following four weekends between 50 percent and 75 percent sold out. 

To help people feel comfortable in this new norm, there will be temperature checks, hand-sanitizing stations and a mandatory face mask policy. But amid the ivy-covered terrace, there’s also complimentary fresh-squeezed juices and custom cocktails; a wellness panel, focusing on nutrition; yoga and meditation; DIY art booths (think Parisian flower stands and watercolor portraits); live music from names like DJ Deana Sophia, Acute Inflections and saxophonist Leo P, and film screenings on select nights. 

“It’s a day of relaxation, for not only mental health, but physical health as well,” Hollinger said. 

SSundaze runs Sunday, July 26, through Sunday, Aug. 23, with the possibility of an additional weekend, at The Foundry in Queens, N.Y. 

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