Virtual fun: I went to clubs in Metaverset

A couple of Saturdays ago I was at a nightclub. I dressed a little on the casual side and wore a multicolored sweater, jeans and sneakers. When I arrived, it was dark and the sky was purple, dotted with stars and clouds. Heard the roaring music before I walked in and there was no queue at the door. It seemed pretty standard and eerily reminiscent of carefree pre-COVID times, but I was not going to a club in the real world – I was going on a club trip in the metaverse.

The nightlife industry is growing in the meta-verse, where clubs, music festivals and parties are popping up on various virtual platforms. More and more venues, companies and organizers are exploring this trend, which is partly a fashion phenomenon driven by COVID, but also part of a broader movement towards digital platforms that the nightlife industry has faced since before the pandemic.

My first stop was Decentralande, one of the largest and busiest virtual spaces in the meta-verse. If I had to find a party, it would almost certainly be here. But it was not so easy to get in. After logging in, my browser screen went black and did not respond and the space took a long time to load. I changed browser several times without effect, then I restarted my computer. Despite what people say about the similarity of these online rooms, if someone with a relatively new MacBook Pro could not log in, it seems that Decentraland at least caters to people with computers and advanced technologies – not someone who wandering lazily around. , hoping to take a look.

The virtual dance floor of a metaverse club.

When I first got inside, my first stop was Amnesia Ibiza, the metaverse iteration of a club in Spain. According to Google, the club was temporarily closed, but in the meta-verse it was still open, even though there were no events or performances going on when I stopped. When I came in, there was almost no one there. An avatar named “Anonymous” in a long-sleeved black shirt stood in the middle of the dance floor. When I tried to talk to him, he immediately left. On the walls, videos showed crowds of people in the real club. I was disappointed, but realized that in the meta-verse, socializing is driven by planned events. It’s not like a club in a city where you can go for a walk every weekend and see crowds and a busy dance floor.

A brave new world

Nightlife experiments with the meta-verse for several reasons. Its entry into digital platforms has been amplified by the pandemic, said Mirik Milan, former nightlife mayor of Amsterdam and co-founder of VibeLab, a nightlife consulting firm. But even before COVID-19, there was interest, especially through musicians who wanted to regain ownership of their work through NFTs and use blockchain to sell directly to listeners, bypassing record companies.

When the pandemic started, artists and venues under lockdown began looking for other ways to interact with fans and make money. Artists have begun livestreaming on platforms like Twitch, holding virtual parties and crowdfunding to stay afloat. Travis Scott gave a concert inside the video game fortnite. VibeLab created United We Stream, a live streaming platform to raise money and create streaming opportunities for artists in 115 cities around the world.

The extension to the metaverse is the latest wave of this exploration. Amnesia launched its club in Decentraland in June 2021. Bootsy Bellows, a West Hollywood club owned by David Arquette, goes into the meta-verse on the Solana blockchain and experimented with a hybrid virtual and physical space where guests use an NFT to enter the real world association.

“There’s definitely a huge appetite for using metaverse or digital technologies to discover and promote new talent,” Milan said.

Find hotspots

After my less than amazing introduction to the metaverse of Amnesia, I was eager to find a livelier place, and to my surprise, it was not easy. I stopped at a casino with Pepe the Frog avatars walking around, a vacant jazz club and another spooky empty club with an NFT Art Gallery. So far, my mission has not been successful. When I walked in, I thought Decentraland would be a vibrant, strange and exciting space with lots of activity, but for the most part it was just dead.

An NFT art gallery inside Metaverset

Fortunately, that changed when I came across an event called “Mr. Dhinga Launch Party” – a club opening where designers gave away portable items, which was ultimately what I was looking for: this party, and reveled in all the weird and wonderful ways you would expect to see at a virtual party. my avatar’s repertoire consisted of dots and smelly legs) next to a wolf wearing a tracksuit.

After exhausting my rather limited library of dance moves, I joined another partygoer’s Twitch stream named Jacob Acebedo. Her feed complemented the event and gave attendees a place where they could more easily communicate with each other. I found them silly and cheesy, but also warm and inviting. They talked about how the event was better than a real party and searched each other’s Instagrams and complimented their photos. A party player gave me some wearables and I returned to the event, ready to return to the dance with a new yellow tracksuit and a lollipop.

The virtual dance floor of a metaverse club

A few days later, I was talking to Acebedo here in the real world. Outside of Metaverse, Acebedo is a 26-year-old military veteran and graphic design student from Southern California.

“I myself have a bit of anxiety,” he said. “I do not really know where it came from – it obviously came from the military … In real situations, when I’m around a large group of people, my anxiety explodes. So when I’m in the metaverse, it allows me to be around hundreds or even thousands of people at once and not have the overwhelming feeling that I would normally feel in real life.

But many beginners to the metaverse will have to navigate the technological barriers I encountered before feeling completely comfortable.

“For the people [who] spend a lot of time online and make online games, it would be much easier to get that transition to the metaverse, ”said Milan. “Personally, I’m not a gamer myself, so for me it will take a little longer.”

Everyone dressed up without going anywhere

A few days later, I popped back into the meta-verse and witnessed another event. This was called Le Phoque Off: An Alternative Music Festival, which took place in the NOWHERE meta-verse due to COVID-19 restrictions in Quebec. Instead of avatars, NOWHERE people existed as non-angular pods with live video chat showing the person’s face. It was awkward in its own way (I hesitate to make a Zoom call myself), but it was more authentic than Decentraland’s ugly avatars and felt closer to an actual experience. It even had a spatial sound, so the closer you got to someone, the louder it sounded.

When I was inside, I went to the Sirius XM stage, where a psychedelic rock band called Hippie Hurra was playing, surrounded by a Mars landscape. Spectators showed their excitement by spinning, taking off or dropping a shower of hearts. Unlike the Decentraland meta-verse, which felt like an exclusive club for crypto enthusiasts, I felt more comfortable NOWHERE. It was fun to hear the music and I enjoyed watching other people watch the show from their pods and interact with each other. It was much more accessible and I could see the artistic potential of the space.

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Before I went to the festival, I caught up with NOWHERE CEO Jon Morris for an interview in the meta-verse. He had created NOWHERE after his work was interrupted at the beginning of the pandemic. This metaverse, he said, was different because it allowed for more interaction than just watching a livestream.

“You’re in this room with 100 people and you can hear them react,” he said. “You can see them throwing heart emojis or jumping and spinning and having this reciprocity, which is really cool.”

Morris, now living in Brooklyn, grew up in rural Kentucky with little access to this kind of cultural experience. He says it can make a difference for children growing up in these environments today.

“That’s why we built NOWHERE,” he said. “Throughout my life, I have created experiences that deepen and stimulate human connection.”

Settle into cyberspace

In my explorations, there were two different manifestations of the nightlife in the metaverse. One was for people who were interested in being pioneers in space, who wanted to socialize, chat and learn more about their common interests, which are very much about cryptocurrencies, NFTs and IT. metaverset. The second was a creative venture for artists that allows them to reach different audiences and continue to perform and make money in uncertain times. Both environments meet the needs of our time, with COVID-19 limiting personal interaction and the prevalence of people creating their lives online.

People working in this space agree that the meta-verse is in its infancy, with many technological and social difficulties to be solved. And while the meta-verse offers exciting new ways to collaborate, share creative works and explore new worlds, the physical nightlife industry will not be displaced by its virtual counterpart at close range.

“It should not be seen as a substitute,” Milan said. “If you expect the same experience as going to a club, it will never happen.”

Again, that’s not really the point.

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