Livestreamed classes and events keep Astoria community connected

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As bars, restaurants, stores and gyms have been closed in a state-mandated effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, residents have been mostly stuck at home unable to enjoy their usual fitness classes, meet up with friends and take part in Astoria nightlife.

However, many businesses and event organizers have been using livestreams and social media to continue reaching out to the community by having online classes and digital events for their audiences to maintain a sense of normalcy and a source of relief while the city is at a standstill.

James Orfanos, the co-owner of New York Martial Arts Academy, which has one of its four locations on Broadway and Crescent, has been letting his students continue their Jeet Kune Do training by providing livestreamed classes via the school’s Instagram and YouTube pages Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. and a Saturday class at noon.

Orfanos immediately made the decision to keep classes going in some way for students to continue enjoying the benefits of the martial art from home.

“Our livestreamed classes will be taught the same as [regular] class,” said Orfanos. “Our students can still get good information and train in their living room. We’re obviously not giving up. I want to make sure that the students are still training, especially now when everyone is stir-crazy at home. It’ll be a good way to get the students energy up.”

While personal trainers and fitness facilities seem to be following suit in offering their classes online for members to work on their physical health, Astoria Music Collective founders Miguel Hernandez and Karen Adelman have decided to keep their music showcases going through live sessions called “AMC Digital Sessions” streamed through their Facebook page for artists and listeners to enjoy.

Normally, the AMC performs throughout bars and venues in the neighborhood, but the duo is determined to keep the show going any way they can.

“Although we can’t gather in person, through digital sessions we can come together to support and rejoice in each other, and maybe bring a little warmth to uncertain times,” Adelman said. “It may not be exactly a sense of normalcy, but it’s extremely comforting to see and hear our friends continue to celebrate life through our shared love of music.”

Queens Craft Brigade, which holds monthly makers markets, will be having an online event on April 19 in order to bring people together and to continue being a platform for artists to show and sell their work. As their events for the next few months will likely be postponed, the group’s founder Robert Duffy took their event online which will also include showing home-bound residents different ways to tap into their creative side as well as continuing to show other’s work.

“We want to find a way for people to still connect,” Duffy said. “We hope to have a forum for people to talk with each other, maybe learn a skill, and just be with each other. If it goes well we may do them on a more regular basis; we’re all in this together.”