Much like the high-school-drama-club nerd who masquerades as an athlete in order to escape the judgmental gaze of fellow teens, the Rio has “transformed” into a sports bar—though the dramatic nature in which they made the announcement suggests that they’ve still got a little theatre in them. A Facebook post yesterday presented a photo of the Rio’s iconic marquee with the words, “SCREW THE ARTS, WE’RE A SPORTS BAR NOW.” According to the post, the new (begrudgingly government-approved?) bar will be open daily from 3:30 to 10:00 p.m., starting Saturday January 23. rio theatre covid

This, obviously, is in response to what many are calling unfair COVID restrictions—while bars and restaurants are allowed to operate, theatres are not, even if the same distancing, mask mandates and regular cleaning are implemented. It’s not to say that this should be a moist free-for-all, of course, but that if the hospitality industry can remain open (safely) for the sake of the economy, arts venues should also be able to do so. I don’t think any of us believe that the Rio wants to be the basketball guy—but that’s what it takes to survive.

high school musical rio theatrePerhaps the Rio got the inspiration for this elaborate scheme from a certain 2006 straight-to-TV cinematic masterpeice.

Whether or not you agree with them, you can’t deny the Rio’s unconventional, teen-movie-esque plan—to present an athletic, cool-guy character while being a true musical freak at heart. Perhaps they’ll lose themselves in the thrill of it all, and only an adorable brown-haired scholastic decathalon geek will show them the importance of being themselves. Maybe this will show us that deep down, we’re really all the same, and the jocks and the nerds and the drama club will unite in a giant musical number. One could say we’re all in this together.