SUFFOLK, Va. -- This summer should have been a busy one for local DJ and business owner Chris Rice and his music entertainment business, but COVID-19 changed all that.
"Our business model for the last nine years has been,” Rice explained, “'Let's get as many people out on the dance floor as possible.'"
That's the model he lived up to when he started Music Makes You Happy Entertainment in 2011. When the pandemic sang its depressing song, it just could not fit.
“When we moved to Phase Three, the first few weddings we did - they had a different feel to them,” Rice said. “People tend to stay at their seats, they dance in different areas in the room. It's really difficult to get that big-party dance feel."
Rice said he enjoys music and has enjoyed it since he was a child. His business serves clients in Central and Coastal Virginia with an office in Hampton Roads and another in Richmond. He said clients have rescheduled their events - some repeatedly.
"You could tell people were just apprehensive about coming out in big groups of people and dancing,” Rice said.
It is the kinds of scenes Rice said he enjoys to see and puts a smile on his face: People coming together on the dance floor and having a great time.
He and his company have adjusted to the ongoing pandemic.
"This past weekend, we did a wedding a private residency in Chesapeake,” Rice said. “We were able to live-stream the ceremony for the clients."
They just started going virtual and are learning along the way.
"This fall, we're going to have to figure out how to do some more virtual things,” Rice said. “It's made me get outside my comfort zone. I'm not one to be on video a lot."
Rice was also able to keep all of his 10 part-time employees thanks to the CARES Act in April. He said his employees have full-time jobs and do this on the side.
"Be patient with us; we're trying out best to get through everything. This a very difficult and stressful time for all of us."