“Utopia,” a four-day LGBTQ open-air retreat on a private lake in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains will take place September 4-7, over Labor Day Weekend. Just two hours outside of New York on a 500-acre site, it will be the first opportunity for many in the LGBTQ+ community to come together, relax and reconnect with friends in an environment with robust safety protocols. The retreat will feature beach activities, yoga, hiking, campfires, sports, along with outdoor stages, performances and music by DJs Dan Slater, Joe Pacheco, and Spencer H.
Unlike gatherings that have been criticized for their overall disregard of health and safety regulations, Utopia is approaching the idea with a far more cautious method. The upcoming retreat will allow only 225 guests. All guests are to wear facial coverings when there is a possibility of coming within six feet of others. Masks will also be required indoors and in music areas.
Utopia is being produced by Jake Resnicow, a trailblazing producer within the LGBTQ+ community since 2010 who has raised over half a million dollars for charities during WorldPride with events featuring Kygo, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Porter and Bette Midler. He has pledged to donate $50 from each Utopia pass sold to provide grants for LGBTQ+ artists and nightlife workers in need. Grants will be administered by a registered 501(c)(3) on a first-come first-serve basis to qualified applicants.
“This is not a money-making endeavor,” Resnicow says. “My goal is to give back to our community and pave the way to be able to once again host large events, safely and responsibly.”
Additionally, everyone (including staff and vendors) will be required to adhere to the two-part testing mandate. “We want to do more than the government is doing,” Resnicow says. “Two-Part Testing covers a broader time span than just one test. It catches an infection before guests leave their home area and confirms there is no infection once again upon arrival.”
Part one takes place three days prior to the event. Medical technicians will test attendees at multiple open-air settings around the tri-state area. There will also be the option for an at-home mail-in test. Given a negative diagnosis, guests are then sent the event address. Part two will take place upon arrival. Guests will be guided into distanced parking spaces and remain in their cars, spaced 20 feet apart, to receive a temperature test and final active COVID-19 test. Results from this second test will be available within 15 minutes. Only upon the second negative diagnosis will guests be directed to their cabin -- housed at 50% capacity, with a maximum of four people -- and required to attend a group orientation and stay on the grounds at all times. For any positive tests, the individual and any other persons in their vehicle will not be allowed to enter and directed to return home and quarantine. They’ll be issued a refund of their ticket and given a 50% code for the next event.
In regards to concern about testing accuracy, Resnicow partnered with industry leader Tested Contained Retreats. “There have been studies that show that even a very accurate test can miss a COVID-19 diagnosis if there’s not enough virus currently in the system to test, potentially at the very beginning of exposure. This is why we’re performing two tests, three days apart. Both of the tests we’re using have clinical studies provided by the labs that manufacture the tests that show no false negatives in their sample sizes.”
“People are going to gather, whether they are allowed to or not,” Resnicow continues. “Our mission is to get people tested. We’re trying to find a way in this new world to provide jobs and get an entire industry restarted on a small scale.”
Resnicow is also pledging that if there is another lockdown in Pennsylvania, or Utopia is canceled for any reason, the event will issue full, automatic refunds of all tickets and credit card fees.
All-Access Passes for Utopia, including four-day/three-night accommodations, start at $699. Each boutique cabin has its own private bathroom, shower, A/C and heat. For more information, visit TakeMeToUtopia.com