After spending so much time in isolation due to the pandemic, people are getting out again to take pleasure in a variety of “new normal” activities, such as visiting art galleries, going to the spa, attending live music events—and other ways to enjoy this time out in the world again.
While the future remains uncertain with the onset of the Delta variant of the Corona virus, many venues, restaurants and other businesses are doing their best to provide ways for people to indulge, celebrate and take care of themselves.
It’s important to keep in mind that things are constantly changing with the pandemic, so event information and details could shift at any moment.
The New West Symphony views this new normal as an opportunity to celebrate humanity’s diverse musical palette and contribute to our beautiful way of life in Southern California, says Michael Christie, artistic and music director of the largest fully professional symphony orchestra serving Ventura County and the Conejo Valley region.
“In the flurry of life’s activities, music is one of the few things we share completely with other human beings no matter the time in history or place in the world,” Christie says. “It transcends political stripes, level of education, cultural background and our human complexity.”
New West Symphony continues to offer its Global Sounds, Local Cultures online season through its Virtual Concert Hall on demand. The series explores how western classical music and music from around the world have inspired and influenced each other for centuries.
As far as the future is concerned, “we are looking forward to presenting a tour of performances in mid-October to reenter concert settings,” Christie says. “Performances will be just over an hour, presented in venues throughout Ventura County and be a fun blend of music across many genres.”
Above all, “I want concertgoers to be proud of our professional musicians who share their talents with us… My main goal is to build audiences and create community pride for the human experience of creating.”
Live music also takes the stage at NABU Wines in Westlake Village with wine tasting on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m., and cover bands that showcase Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Heart, Led Zeppelin and more. If you’re looking to store your wine, Cellar Masters in Newbury Park is a fully licensed and bonded contractor, and their sole business is the design, construction and installation of climate-controlled custom wine cellars and wine storage solutions.
Restaurants are also serving up in-person dining. Try Mastro’s Steakhouse in Thousand Oaks, named a Top 10 steakhouse in the United States and The Grill on the Alley at The Promenade in Westlake Village, a classic steakhouse featuring acclaimed prime beef and seafood.
You can also dine outdoors lakeside at The Landing in Westlake Village, including Boccaccio’s, Zin Bistro Americana and The Landing Grill & Sushi Bar. Shopping at several boutiques in the same location include Tres Chic and the Bonibi Store and Coffee Bar. Down the street in Agoura Hills, check out the RELM Lifestyle Boutique at Whizin Market Hall. And Splendid Iris in Westlake Village sells affordable jewelry, accessories and clothing to make women of all ages feel fabulous.
For those who gained weight during isolation, “we can help with that,” says Dr. Dianne Lalena, DC, owner of Westlake Body Contouring, which is known for its contour light system that reduces unwanted fat on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, arms and chin. Additionally, “we have the famous 42-day, doctor-supervised Chirothin Weight Loss Program, which is sure to get you back to your pre-Covid weight in just 42 days.”
If you need an increase in serotonin, or a decrease in the cortisol levels that make people gain weight from stress, “our 25-minute treatments not only help you lose that unwanted Covid fat, but also bring your stress levels down and increase your serotonin levels that help us cope,” Dr. Lalena says.
“We also do treatments for pain—red light therapy will help with pain and inflammation on any part of the body,” she notes. “We do arthritis, brain trauma, stroke, back or neck pain, fibromyalgia or just plain old pain from soreness.”
Westlake Body Contouring currently has a $59 introductory offer for the first full body treatment, and “we are offering 10% off all package deals if you mention you read this in Conejo Valley Lifestyle magazine,” she adds. “When your stress levels are down and you lose a few inches of unwanted fat, you will feel better in your clothes and feel better overall. We can help you do that at Westlake Body Contouring.”
You can also pamper yourself at the Four Seasons Spa in Westlake Village, which offers a variety of massages, including Thai, Shiatsu and reflexology, as well as sports, maternity and couples massage.
Post-pampering, take your relaxed and shiny self out on the town to soak up the local arts scene. The California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks features free general admission and rotating temporary exhibitions, artist lectures and educational and family programs that foster participation in, and an appreciation for, the visual arts.
The values we support today will determine what we have when the pandemic is over, says Roya Alt, CMATO director. “This is a time to value the arts—art makes a difference in how we live our lives,” Alt says. “It allows us to communicate from afar, generating positivity and hope.”
During these uncertain times, “art matters,” Alt emphasizes. “We saw an increased interest in the arts early on in the pandemic; globally, people turned to art engagement as a source of comfort and strength. This has been the driving force behind our reopening.”
CMATO has an important role to play in confronting the challenges of COVID-19: “to remain a place for you to find refuge, seek solace and enjoy art when life feels uncertain. Now more than ever, we need humanity, expression and the community that the arts create.”
This month, The Bank of America Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks is hosting several amazing artists, including Chris Isaak and Boz Scaggs, as well as Chris Hillman, who will perform along with Herb Pedersen and John Jorgenson.
“If things continue to go in the right direction, on Sept. 22 we will have our very first full house with no social distance requirements in place,” says Niki Chopra Richardson, associate director of TOArts, which is the fundraising and presenting partner of the Bank of America Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks.
She further emphasizes that “we follow the public health guidelines of the state and county, so it all depends on that. If all goes well, we will have Chris Isaak (on Sept. 22) and a big welcome back to our patrons and audience complete with complimentary champagne.”
Ticket sales so far indicate people “are ready to get back out,” she adds. “We have masks for unvaccinated people, but we’re not policing that, so we’re expecting people to protect themselves and we’re not checking vaccinations because we don’t feel that’s our position. It’s a performance venue and you’re coming here voluntarily, so we’re hoping people will do what’s right for themselves and their community.”
At 5-Star Theatricals in Thousand Oaks, “we hope that we can offer an optimistic, safe place to gather with our neighbors, enrich our souls with song and the story told on stage, says Executive Director Cindy Murray.
For instance, “Mamma Mia,” opening in October, “has fun, upbeat music that will have people dancing in the aisles and hopefully lift their spirits as we celebrate what a wonderful community we live in,” Murray says. “This cast has been in place since the beginning of 2020 and they cannot wait to sing and dance with the audience.”
5-Star Theatricals “can offer everyone the gift of song as we gather together once again,” she adds. “We have always had hope and we never gave up performing for our community.”