Talk about miserable timing.
A self-described “private party app” urging people to “get your rebel on,” Vybe is all about hosting or attending parties in the thick of the deadliest, most brutal stretch of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suffice it to say the haters are out in force.
To take just one example, Vybe encourages users on its website and on Instagram to enter a competition to attend the upcoming 17-day Zamna music festival in Tulum, Mexico. It’s a potential superspreader event in a coronavirus-wracked country one epidemiologist previously described to The Daily Beast as so risky as to be from a different planet.
Winners will apparently get to stay at “The Vybe House,” which it promises is “new, modern and in a safe place” in Tulum, although the only images of the lodgings on the page are computer illustrations.
In a TikTok video uncovered by New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz, the app—which claims, pitifully, to be aware of the threat of COVID-19—promoted a secret, invite-only New Year’s Eve party in New York City called “Golden Era of Eden”:
TikTok informed The Daily Beast it took the account down recently for violating its pandemic-related content restrictions.
But the app isn’t brand new: Back in September, as colleges and universities in the five boroughs struggled to reopen, it inspired angry petitions on Reddit and Change.org.
“Vybe is a private party app, which many youths, especially college kids, in NYC are using to host and join parties… in the middle of a fucking pandemic,” the Ban Vybe page on the latter reads. “This is very much a ‘time is of the essence’ issue, so do your part, sign our petition, and spread the word.”
A reviewer on Apple’s Appstore, which hosts the product, concurred.
“This app completely enables idiot [New York University] students, including minors, to party recklessly and endanger other people,” it reads.
Vybe appears to be the brainchild of a young Manhattan resident named Alexandar Dimcevski. On his LinkedIn, which has apparently since been deleted, Dimcevski claims to have graduated from Baruch College, where student newspaper articles and school records show he participated in student government and athletics. On his Facebook, he purports to have attended NYU and Columbia University, and to have immigrated from Sweden, although he appears to have family roots in Macedonia. A woman he identified on the platform as his mother wished him a happy 25th birthday in May.
It was from an apartment near the uptown Ivy League school that Dimcevski registered Chaperone Corporation, Vybe’s parent, in January 2019. Its initial incarnation appears to have been TrendiesApp, the webpage for which now redirects to VybeTogether.com, and which Dimcevski began promoting on his Twitter account in the fall of last year.
Dimcevski did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the companies still hosting his app or its promotional pages.
Dimcevski’s feed in 2019 consisted largely of complaints about perceived shortcomings in the New York nightlife industry. But on Jan. 1, 2020, just before the pandemic was set to strike the United States, Dimcevski tweeted a simultaneously hopeful and ominous New Year’s resolution.
In February, just weeks before New York went into lockdown, Dimcevski and his rechristened company were promoting an event at CollegeParty.nyc, which promised to unite students from multiple Manhattan-based institutions with promises of “Open Bar Hot Bodies Live Music.”
As the health crisis worsened, Dimcevski pivoted to promoting personal protective equipment through the site MasksAreCool.com. In other words, he does not appear to be a COVID Truther.
But he also seemed to sense opportunity for his passion project.
As of now, Vybe is hiring for multiple unpaid positions, including iOS developer, Android developer, and “social media/meme master.”
To its meager credit, Vybe’s Frequently Asked Questions page does include the question “What about COVID?” which it answers with an acknowledgement the pandemic is “major health problem,” and that large parties are “very dangerous.”
But it insists activities on Vybe are safe.
“Vybe is a compromise, no big parties but small gatherings,” the page reads. “We could be living, at least a little during these times with Vybe.”
In fact, officials and health experts have increasingly agreed in recent weeks that the tiniest of gatherings, and even spread within households, are a major force behind the ongoing pandemic nightmare.