Dua Lipa's Pandemic Travels: A Comprehensive Timeline
To ensure the success of her sophomore album, Dua Lipa had to travel sometime. But by not following new rules, she broke our hearts.
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In a world inundated by technological distractions and countless other choices, the success of the modern pop star hinges on the ability to be in a constant state of promotion. For Dua Lipa, whose self-titled debut album was a hit in the UK and moderate success in the US (peaking at #3 and #27, respectively), a successful sophomore album could be the difference between being a flash in the pan or a bonafide pop phenom. Lipa and her team planned Future Nostalgia with a traditional months-long album rollout, a concept integral to the success of a broad dance-pop record that balked current industry trends, scheduling promotion and shooting music videos for upcoming singles months in advance of the album’s planned April 3, 2020 release date.
Then, just over a month after the album’s second single, “Physical,” was released, COVID-19 restrictions brought Future Nostalgia’s rollout to a screeching halt. With the release date looming, Lipa’s team had to work quickly to find new, virtual ways to promote an album meant to be heard in arenas, at festivals, and on dance floors.
As Lipa promoted the album, appearing on remotely-recorded performances on The Tonight Show and giving a Zoom interview to Elle, it seemed as though she was a rigid adopter of COVID-19 restrictions. In her Tonight Show performance of “Break My Heart,” Lipa closed with a message to viewers: “stay home, save lives.”
But as months passed and travel restrictions eased, it quickly became clear that Lipa had no intention of staying home for too long. The continued success of Future Nostalgia was critical, not just to the album’s longevity but to Dua Lipa’s, and the record’s restructured promotional cycle still required Lipa to travel. But with that travel has come a lax following of public health recommendations and rules across several countries, building as time has gone on and possibly revealing that Lipa’s encouragement for fans to follow these guidelines may have been more marketing strategy than steadfast belief.
I, along with many others, have been noticing Dua Lipa’s approach to COVID becoming more laissez-faire over the past few months. So, I decided to put my detective cap on to compose a comprehensive timeline of Dua Lipa’s pandemic travels and actions that fall outside of the recommended guidelines. For full transparency, I’m currently wearing a pair of “Don’t Start Now” joggers, so I’m a massive fan of Lipa. I have no intention of tearing her down, just documenting the difference between myself — who has not seen any family, friends, or sat down anywhere besides the confines of his 500sq. foot apartment since March 2020 — and the lavish lives of those who can afford to grow laxer as time goes on.
March 10, 2020 - The Last Supper
Just days before COVID restrictions go into effect, Dua and boyfriend Anwar Hadid are seen out to dinner at The Ivy Asia in London.
March 14, 2020 - Lockdown Begins
The UK confirms that the number of COVID cases has risen to 1140, the US extends the European travel ban to include the UK. Dua and Anwar are now stuck together in London for the time being.
March 27, 2020
After leaking online, Dua releases Future Nostalgia one week early. New promo structures are quickly shifted into place. One day earlier, Vulture declares Dua Lipa the “quarantine queen.” When asked about the title a month later by High Snobiety, Dua says, “I don’t know — it’s funny, I guess [laughs]. I hope that it brings back happy memories of the time we're spending indoors.”
April 8, 2020
Dua performs “Break My Heart” virtually on Fallon, ending with her plea to “stay home, save lives.”
April 11, 2020
Dua posts the “STAY AT HOME” PSA to encourage flattening the curve. Remember when that was a thing? It feels like eons ago.
April 15, 2020
May 2020 - July 2020
Dua and Anwar remain in London, posting photos in isolation together. In late June, they shoot their part of Dua’s upcoming video for “Levitating (The Blessed Madonna Remix),” with Anwar being cast opposite Lipa as her love interest as the crew had to comply with COVID-19 social distancing measures.
July 4, 2020 - Escape from the UK
Two weeks after a socially-distanced, COVID-safe shoot for the first of two “Levitating” remixes, Dua and Anwar take their first of many vacations, after months of nonstop hardship living with millions of dollars in beautiful housing. They travel to St. Lucia, posting photos from a resort in “island isolation.”
July 7, 2020 – Coming to America
Influencer and model Leah McCarthy posts photos from a birthday picnic at the Hadid family farm in Pennsylvania, Dua and Anwar are there together, along with Gigi and Bella Hadid. My research shows that Gigi, Bella, and Leah were all isolating together on the farm up until this point, working remotely. Though Dua and Anwar are fresh from two plane trips and two different countries in the span of two weeks, all parties appear to be six or more feet apart.
July 8, 2020 - “Hallucinate” Hypocrisy
After announcing an animated official music video for “Hallucinate,” Lipa responded to a fan’s lighthearted criticism about having an animated music video instead of a full, live-action standard production. “Did you guys forget that we’ve been in the middle of a pandemic for the past 3 months?”
Karnan @karnangomezOk dua I didn’t wait so Long for hallucinate to get an animated MV
It’s worth noting here that she does have a point and that, even though a live-action video for the “Levitating” remix was in the works, that set was fully COVID-compliant, with only real-life couples being cast and Missy Elliott filming and sending over her part from across the pond. But that point starts to become moot when it’s tweeted on a trip to Pennsylvania, where she had traveled after a mini-vacation to St. Lucia, aaaafter she advocated for staying home to sell records — oh, sorry, I mean “save lives!”
[Editor’s note: Thank you to a reader for mentioning this tweet so I could add it to the timeline! I had completely forgotten about it.]
July 16, 2020
Dua posts pictures of herself in New York. Though maskless, the elevator could very well be private.
July 17, 2020
Dua is spotted maskless in SoHo, dines outdoors with Anwar and unseen friends. I was not able to independently verify how close she was to her table while walking with the mask off, though you should not remove your mask on the streets of New York unless you have a clear radius of 1000ft (my opinion, not official CDC guideline numbers).
July 18, 2020 - Dog Day Afternoon
Dua is spotted out at a park with model Maya Stepper, their group of four taking off their masks while away from others. Maya is not in Dua’s pod, nor Dua in Maya’s.
July 30, 2020
Dua flies to California, posting photos of herself in Los Angeles.
August 5, 2020 - Maskless with Miley
Dua and Miley Cyrus post photos of themselves together inside the studio, presumably during the recording of “Prisoner.” Included in the photos is Watt, an engineer who worked with Dua on Future Nostalgia. No one wears a mask.
August 23, 2020
Dua hosts a 25th birthday party. Judging by all of the collective barrage of maskless partygoing photos posted by almost everyone in attendance, there were 15-20 people there, though the final number hasn’t been confirmed. Those invited included iPhone case designer Devon Lee Carlson, singer Savannah Hudson, and costume designer Johnny Wujek.
September 8, 2020
Dua Lipa and Savannah Hudson party together, maskless, with friends in the Palm Springs desert in a group of 8-10 people.
September 12, 2020
Dua records an unfunny “New Rules” COVID parody with public enemy #1, James Corden, in LA, which airs a week later.
September 17, 2020
Dua flies back to Pennsylvania for a few days of much-needed respite on the Hadid farm.
September 19, 2020
Dua arrives back in New York. Note: that’s one week after recording with Corden in LA. While the CDC did not require that domestic travelers undergo mandatory isolation, they did recommend that travelers take everyday actions to reduce nonessential activities for 14 days.
September 30, 2020
After spending the day filming the music video for “Prisoner” with Miley Cyrus, Dua and Anwar go out for Sushi, which is a nonessential activity.
October 11, 2020
Dua is officially back in London, Anwar stays behind in the States, as is evidenced by her captioning throwback photos about missing them two days later. While in London, Dua works on developing Studio 2054 as well as several Quarter 4 performances to promote the live show and "Levitating.”
October 16, 2020
News breaks that Dua is getting lawyers involved after The Sun claims that a music video she was shooting was not complying with COVID regulations and had the police called. Dua blasts the paper on her Instagram story, saying that there have been many other British stars who have set worse examples.
November 22, 2020
Dua performs on the AMAs. Though the awards are American, the performance was filmed in London.
December 16, 2020
Dua returns to New York to film promos and begin rehearsals for SNL, which airs on December 19th. Lipa is not spotted maskless in public during this trip, which is good, as a new, mutated strain of COVID has been popping up in the UK, where she flew in from.
December 24, 2020
Dua posts pictures of herself with Gigi Hadid on Christmas eve making gingerbread houses. Dua spends Christmas in Pennsylvania on the farm with the Hadids, just as Taylor Swift imagined it when she wrote “Christmas Tree Farm.”
December 26, 2020
Anwar comes out as possibly anti-vaxx on his Instagram story, saying that he won’t get the COVID vaccine. The couple’s somewhat-lackadaisical attitude towards pandemic restrictions becomes that much clearer.
December 30, 2020
In an interview with Attitude, Dua speaks out against cancel culture, which she calls “dangerous and toxic”…………kind of like a deadly supervirus!
January 1, 2021
Dua and Anwar travel to Tulum, Mexico to celebrate the New year. From clicking around the profiles of friends tagged in photos, I count 14-15 people in attendance, all maskless obviously. I’d post more photos here, but I’m coming up on the space limit for the average inbox, so here are some links.
January 12, 2021
Fans call out Dua on Twitter for posting photos of herself happily vacationing in other countries.
January 13, 2021
Dua arrives back in LA.
Where will Dua’s next stop be on her pandemic world tour? Hopefully nowhere. In the few hours I spent gathering this information, scrolling up and down the Instagram feed of Mohamed Hadid and cross-referencing dates trying to find exactly when Dua and Anwar were on the farm visiting their pygmy goats, it struck me how little I’ve done in the past 10 months, and not for lack of trying. For most celebrities, there was really no question of when they’d be able to see their family and friends again; when they’d have a chance to travel anywhere; if their jobs were ever in jeopardy. A pandemic was but an inconvenience, something to be ignored once the opportunity arose to party with friends in the desert. It’s all disappointing...but unsurprising. No matter what Us Weekly says, stars will never be just like us. But that’s okay too — it won’t stop me (or former President Barack Obama) from enjoying “Levitating.”