Thursday, May 31, 2007

Stevie Joe Goes Clubbing in Second Life

As you might recall, I have been exploring the virtual world of Second Life in the name of science. There are over 6.8 million residents now, and the growth has been rapid. When you first start navigating around Second Life, you will notice that there are a lot of night clubs. I know what you're thinking, "How do you drink booze at a virtual night club?" Well, if you are dead set on drinking, you can provide your own favorite beverage while sitting in front of the computer. One night, while alternating stingers and tequila shots, I would up taking off my pants and jumping on stage with a bunch of showgirls (in Second Life, of course). So, behaving like a drunken idiot is still on the table.

Anyway, the attraction at the night clubs is not the alcohol but the music. You can find clubs playing just about any kind of music you can imagine. Some will simply stream music from an existing internet radio station. Others will feature in-house DJs that will spin the tunes and take requests. Still more offer live music.

How the heck do they offer live music? Well, just like on regular radio, they set up some microphones and let the musicians have at it. Sometimes, they are a band playing at a real club somewhere in the world, and the audio gets streamed to Second Life. Other times, it's a dude with a guitar sitting in his kitchen. In either case, you actually see the performers in the virtual club. They appear as avatars, like everyone else in Second Life, and they play instruments and dance just like in the real world (I know it's hard to visualize - but it's pretty neat when you see it).

The Velvet is found inside an old, abandoned theater building. It features a stage, organ, and mechanical bull. The crowd is very literate and frighteningly Canadian. There's a live DJ pretty much every night.

One club I visited was The Velvet. This club offers indie rock and a pretty interesting collection of regulars (one of which appears only as a spider). Sometimes, it's the folks you "meet" that provide the entertainment. While listening to the music, folks engage in "chat" to talk about nearly anything. On one recent evening, The Velvet featured a haiku contest. On another, there was an impromptu iambic pentameter throw-down. You just don't find stuff like that in Junebug Holler. As an added bonus, nobody barfs on your feet.

This all reminds me that I might need to get a new class of friends.

Stray Cat's is a hard rock club with a very international clientele. It's not unusual to find a large crowd with folks from the US, Europe, and South America. Second Life offers real-time translation tools to help with language problems.

Umbra Penumbra provides another example of the design work that is evident nearly everywhere in Second Life. By the way, the furniture is all functional which is kinda weird. After a while, though, it all starts to seem normal.

See you on the other side!
Stevie Joe Parker

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