A global pandemic was never going to be kind on a couple whose livelihood revolves around social gatherings.
But that doesn’t mean the word ‘optimistic’ has been entirely omitted from the vocabulary of long-time Queenstown musicians Lindsay and Ailsa Woods.
The Hanley’s Farm couple founded LA Social in 2006, a corporate events and weddings band that performs up to 200 shows a year across New Zealand and overseas.
The group works with around 20 different musicians, many of whom are from Queenstown-Lakes.
But with the arrival of Covid-19 in NZ, it’s impossible to say when the Woods will next sing Wonderwall to an audience several beers deep.
LA Social’s international cancellations for 2020 include an event set to involve 40,000 people at the BMW headquarters outside Munich.
Despite their business being non-existent for the foreseeable future, the Woods appear to be in good spirits.
Raised in the Wakatipu Basin, Ailsa says she’s seen four different recessions hit the region in her lifetime.
“I remember in the ‘80s people losing their houses but it was 20 per cent interest rates, so it was bad,” Ailsa says.
Yet Lindsay believes there’s no question this is the biggest crisis the area has ever seen.
“But, it’s interesting to have been through a few challenging times financially and know what that has looked like in the past, in Queenstown in particular … it’s not great but it does get better,” he says.
The Woods say their business first took a hit from Covid-19 in February after a number of international clients began to cancel.
The two agree if the virus had arrived in November or December, LA Social and similar entertainment-based businesses would have missed out on the busy summer months they all heavily rely on.
“Our reserves would have been low because we would’ve already come through last winter and spring, and been living off fat and counting on the summer,” Lindsay says.
Coming into the Covid-19 era off the back of a busy summer, the Woods confess they haven’t been particularly productive during the government-sanctioned lockdown — an approach they say has probably been for the best.
“We got to the end of the season and I was just exhausted and ready to curl up and close the curtain,” Lindsay says.
“That’s kind of what we’ve done a little bit, is actually try not to be a dick to yourself and actually try to rest.”
The empty-nesters feel everyone is starting to realise more than ever just how social we are as a species.
“We’ve had so many Zoom calls, and they’re brilliant,’’ Lindsay says.
‘‘But are they as good as having a chat with your friends anywhere, in reality?
‘‘They’re a pale imitation.”
With the band regularly playing gigs throughout the South Island pre-Covid-19, Invercargill-born Lindsay says LA Social will now be looking to the regions and towns more than ever.
“Our world is Aotearoa NZ, that’s the future for us, the domestic world.
‘‘We’re lucky, we’re not exclusively a Queenstown band.”
While it’s not clear when they’ll next hit the stage, Ailsa has faith in the region she’s long called home.
“I’m optimistic that Queenstowners are very resilient, and they’re so innovative.
‘‘They will make this work,” Ailsa says.
Naturally she extends this positive attitude to her business.
“In terms of weddings, people still love one another, that’s not changing.
“By the time we get out of here, people are going to have this longing to be able to join together again and to be able to dance and sing.”