Losing track of a friend in a packed bar or screaming to be heard over a live band is not something that’s happening much in the real world at the moment, but it happens all the time in the 2,100-person Facebook group “a group where we all pretend we’re in the same venue.” So does losing shoes and Juul pods, and shouting matches over which bands are the saddest, and therefore the greatest. Even the awkwardness of daily life is re-created in the virtual music venue, through posts such as “holds an empty cup the whole show because I don’t know what else to do with my hands” and the riffing comments beneath them.

The group was created in May by Natalie Miller, a 20-year-old fast-food worker from South Carolina who says she’s been missing live music more than any other aspect of pre-pandemic life. She now spends three to five hours a day there, volunteering to hold a broken bathroom-stall door for someone just trying to pee real quick, or handing out moderation privileges to whoever can most quickly get some water to her in the center of the mosh pit.

“I want to feel dirty again,” she told me, speaking dreamily of grotesqueries like sweaty bodies and sticky floors—all the things “you don’t really think about or acknowledge until they’re taken away from you.”