Drive-thrus have become a surprising solution for dating, weddings, and strip clubs during lockdown

clopez@businessinsider.com (Canela López)
Attendees arrive to watch the movie "The Goonies" at a pop-up drive-in theatre built in the parking lot at the Broadway Commons on May 21, 2020 in Hicksville, New York.

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

  • Drive-thrus are making a comeback during the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • With bars, restaurants, and movie theaters closed, drive-in movie theaters are now one of the safest in-person date options outside the house. 
  • Strip clubs, including the Lucky Devil Lounge in Portland, Oregon, have adopted the drive-thru model to offer a show while their audience picks up take-out food. 
  • There has also been a surge in drive-thru weddings. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Drive-thrus have a whimsical history in the US.

Hearkening back to 1950s Americana, drive-in movie theaters and diners used to be places to take a sweetheart on a date, have a first kiss, and even say the first "I love you."

But as businesses evolved, our love of drive-ins faded. The drive-thru lost its wonder and instead became a place for quick meals, busy families, and a possible stop on someone's Uber ride home after a night out. 

However, since the coronavirus pandemic has made most every social activity more complicated, drive-thrus have become a thrillingly safe way to keep going with normal life.

The CDC has recommended drive-thrus as the safest way for bars and restaurants to reopen during the pandemic. But across the US, people have had the same idea when it comes to relationships, and even sex work.

From drive-in movie theater dates to drive-thru strip clubs, people are using drive-thrus as a way to safely connect from six feet apart during the time of COVID-19 and social distancing. 

Drive-by weddings are becoming more common as health officials warn church ceremonies and large receptions are unsafe

Bride Janine Scholz and groom Philip Scholz, wearing protective face masks, pose for media after their wedding ceremony at the Autokino Dusseldorf drive-in cinema.

Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

For couples who've had to cancel large weddings and receptions because of quarantine, some counties and churches are offering drive-by or drive-thru weddings as ways to tie to knot. 

In Florida, the Alachua County Clerk of Court office hosted drive-thru wedding ceremonies outside of the town's courthouse on April 30 for $30. Couples were advised to show up 15 minutes before their appointments. 

And the trend is catching on around the world.

In Duesseldorf, Germany, three couples got married in a drive-in wedding ceremony performed by a priest. The venue was ironically a drive-in theater the couples repurposed for their ceremonies, according to Euronews. 

Janine Miodunski and Philip Scholz sat at a table six-feet away from their priest as they exchange their vows on the stage of the theater. Their friends and families were able to watch the ceremony from the safety of their cars parked in from of the stage. 

While the ceremony was unconventional, Miodunski told Euronews she was happy her and Scholz were able to celebrate their commitment in some way during the pandemic. 

"There's no other way at the moment and we made the best out of it today," Midounski told Euronews. 

As sex workers struggle to make ends meet, some strip clubs are trying the drive-thru model

drive thru strip club

REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

For people who would rather go to a club than a theater, the Lucky Devil Lounge in Portland, Oregon has you covered. 

Strip clubs across the US have closed indefinitely for business because of COVID-19 — but some clubs are innovating to keep dancers employed and business rolling. 

Shon Bolden made the decision to close his strip club on March 16, he immediately began brainstorming ways to keep his staff employed and business running.

Customers who order food from the Lucky Devil can pay $30 per car and driver (plus $10 for any passengers in the car) to use the drive-thru and watch a show. The strip club drive-thru will be open Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays from 6 pm to 10 pm. 

If they pay for the service —"Food 2 Go-Go" — the customer can watch the performers dance on multiple stages as they wait for their food to be brought out by one of the dancers. Most services last the length of one song. 

"With the social distancing, it's great for the ladies because they don't have to interact with the customers as closely as they would when they're dancing," Bolden told Insider. "Now, anybody that's a germaphobe or doesn't like to be touched, this is like a dream come true for them." 

Bolden told Insider business is booming and he sees a variety of regulars make their way through the drive-thru burlesque show. Despite the sexual nature of the service, Bolden said people are generally very respectful of the dancers and he's only had to ask one patron to leave. 

"The dancers are making money. Everyone that comes through is super stoked and videotaping and throwing money and just being super cool. It's exciting when there's a carload of people happy to see these girls dance," Lounge owner Shon Boulden told The New York Post.

Drive-in movie theaters are popping up as date spots across the country

Drive-thru

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

While the practice fell out of fashion in the 20th century, 305 drive-in theaters still exist around the US according to the United Drive-In Theatres Owners Association. 

These vintage businesses are seeing a resurgence as all the typical meeting spots for dates like restaurants and bars have indefinitely closed down. 

"Who would have thought that drive-in movies would one day again become the most attractive option for going out?" Josh Frank, owner of the Blue Starlite drive-in theater in Austin, Texas, told the New York Times. 

Forrest and Erin McBride told the Mercury News they were drawn to the idea of a drive-in movie while brainstorming safe ways to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The two settled on going to the Paramount Drive-in near Los Angeles for a screening of "Onward" —  a Pixar animated film. 

"We were like, what can we do? Everything's closed," Forrest told the Mercury News. "We were like, 'Well, a drive-in theater is kind of like a self-quarantined movie date.'"

While drive-in theaters come with their own set of concerns, like public restrooms and how to safely deliver concessions, theater owners are taking precautions and finding ways to make the experience as safe as possible. 

Some theaters have started taking orders via text and social media to avoid a crowded line at the concession stand. Other owners, like Chris Curtis, owner of the Blue Moon Drive-in in Guin, Alabama, are recommending people bring their own snacks and beverages to the theater. 

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