"We thought, ultimately, if we could get our friends to do it, it would be really fun and a way to connect with people we couldn’t connect with in person," explains Shelsea Ochoa, who created the group with friend Brice Maiurro while they were practicing social distancing. They started out by inviting their friends, who in turn invited their friends, and the idea snowballed from there. In the four days since its creation, the Denver-based group has amassed 64,200 members (and counting) in the metro area, as well as fans across the U.S. and around the world.
In addition to holding down day jobs, Maiurro and Ochoa are both community organizers who were inspired by past experiences howling at the moon— in Brazil at sunset, in a Boulder alley at midnight on the full moon, and as a community in California.
Their Facebook page reads: "What better time to howl than this time of isolation? Every night at 8pm in your time zone, take a minute to step outside and let out a cathartic howl! We'll post up daily events with themes that you can invite your friends and family to. Let's see how many people the world over we can get to howl at once."
Although some members want to coordinate a massive howl at the exact same time around the globe, for now the organizers are keeping it simple and encouraging everyone to howl at 8 p.m. in their own time zone.
"The group is growing exponentially right now, so I think it’s going to grow a bunch," says Maiurro. "We’ve seen people doing it in Switzerland; we have friends doing it in Mexico and Brazil."
Ochoa attributes the speed with which the idea took off to the ease of participation. "It’s pretty easy to get behind it — it’s not a huge commitment," she says. "And it’s a worldwide thing."
Besides, adds Maiurro, people have been looking for something to do: "It’s an easy sell when everyone’s hanging out at home all day. Some people have said that they were looking forward to it all day."
People are howling with their families, their kids, their neighbors; even dogs are howling along. "Now a lot of people have put their own meaning on it," says Maiurro, a poet as well as an organizer. "We see people who say, 'I’m going to howl for all the hospital workers, the people on the front lines.' I think it was a fun thing. It made sense with being in isolation; it makes people feel connected to each other when they howl and hear someone howl back."
Adds Ochoa, "It's a really primitive, primal release of energy."
And these days, who couldn't use a reason to go outside, release some energy and remember that we're all in this together?