There are several things about 2021's annual dinner of the Baker Street Irregulars that are very, very . . . very . . . different, and it's not just that it is online. Having to go remote over the internet forces a lot of other changes on to the event, and the list is not short:
Relaxed dress code. Sure, there is no formal written dress code for the BSI dinner, but it's become more formal as the years have passed, basically becoming a Sherlockian dateless prom.
No banquet meal.
No new acquaintances or conversations that come from being assigned to a table with certain people.
No venue atmosphere.
No cocktail hour.
No big audience reactions. Virtual meetings may have silent clapping, chat comments, etc., but none of it works the same as applause or a mass vocal reaction.
The ability for members and invitees to attend without the cost of a trip to New York.
But perhaps the biggest change is the fact that the big exclusive event of American Sherlockiana is now on even footing with every other Sherlockian event that has happened during quarantine. Take away New York City, a fancy club setting, all the other things above, and it is now comparable to every other scion society function that occurred online this year. Someone could literally go, "Well, that wasn't as good as the online event held by the Finley Problems of Finley, Alabama."
Yes, there has always been the potential for comparison by the privileged few who get to attend, but the entire New York vacation aspect of it has tilted the scales for many an attendee, and the exclusive nature does the rest of the work -- if you get to be at the high-prestige event of the American Sherlockian world, you don't want to admit that maybe it wasn't quite as cool as certain things that anyone could show up for.
Going to be an interesting year, especially with a new show-runner starting up on on BSI Inc., and a real reset point for when things do go back to in-person events. We've been learning a lot from our new connectivity . . . at least those of us who have been participating. It's interesting to consider those Sherlockians one knows who never seem to show up on even the best-attended Zooms gatherings. (And I'm sure I'm not the only one scrolling through the faces to see who's at each meeting I go to.)
So, here we go. The grand old club in a brand new space today. Big change for an institution that's not fond of change. Let's see what happens.