Zoom has its issues, but there’s no denying it’s become the video chat app of choice for these quarantine times. But just because your living room is the only place to go clubbing or have happy hour drinks with your friends doesn’t mean that’s what everyone else has to see.
Zoom offers the option to change your virtual background (though your computer or phone does need to have certain tech requirements), and those backgrounds have become the new fashion statement. You could put yourself in Twin Peaks’ Red Room, or in Schitt’s Creek, or against background for business meetings.
Or, you could use one of these Toronto-specific backgrounds that NOW has created for you, from Pride to Massey Hall to Promise Cherry Beach.
Right-click on a PC or control-click on a Mac and hit “save as” to download them. Follow the instructions here to change your Zoom background.
All photos by Samuel Engelking except the CNE photo by Natalia Manzocco.
Massey Hall is closed for renovations anyway, but we’d still trade a lot to sit in one of the uncomfortable wooden chairs in the majestic concert hall for a pristine-sounding concert. You can still take it in from behind your larger-than-life quarantine hair on your next conference call.
The pickle pizza monstrosity from the 2019 CNE.
Now that the Ex is likely off this year (though you never know), the idea of stuffing your face with a bunch of disgusting stunt food just seems absurd. But that doesn’t mean you can’t sit in front of it while you share an analytics report with your coworkers. Next time that happens, use this background of a pickle pizza with dill ranch sauce from last year’s Canadian National Exhibition.
The new (or future?) El Mocambo
We squeezed in a sneak peek at the always-under-renovations Toronto music venue just before the distancing measures hit. And so just because the historic bar won’t be operating anytime soon doesn’t mean you can’t gaze upon its very expensive renovation. Let’s face it, you probably weren’t going to pay $1,000 for a ticket anyway.
The Moon: A Voyage Through Time
This giant moon sculpture by British artist Luke Jerram turned a lot of heads, first at the Aga Khan Museum and then at the Bentway. But where it really starred was on Instagram. So his digital version is kind of its natural habitat.
Remember when you were encouraged to use public space? Digitally recall it while gawking at Daniel Arsham’s Lunar Garden with the crowd at Nathan Phillips Square at last year’s Nuit Blanche.
The Pride Parade is cancelled this summer due to coronavirus, but you can still enjoy the joyous queer celebration while at Club Quarantine or having a drink with your friend – and bring your best look.
Another vibrant street celebration that we wish like hell we could have again. Alas, Toronto Caribbean Carnival is not happening this year. But throw on some soca for a virtual fete with your friends. You’ve still got your costume somewhere in your closet, right?
What we wouldn’t give for a Promise Cherry Beach party right now. How bout the Zoom version instead?
Put yourself inside CBC’s legendary music vault. Weirdly satisfying.
The TTC is one of the few things that is open, but you’re probably not using it unless you absolutely have to. You can put yourself on the subway on Zoom instead, and when you’re ready to tag out of the conversation just say “well, that’s my stop.” Your friends won’t roll their eyes at all.