Taken from URB magazine - June 2007
It’s a typical Friday night at the club. You take your best helicopter, loweing it into the water, where it converts automatically to a submarine, before docking it on the roof of the night club. With a fl ick of the wrist, your ride has vanished, neatly put away until later, and your clothes instantly change to something more stylish for the evening–and then you head inside.The DJ, from New York, is spinning to a full house of people—the robot from Amsterdam, the seven-foot-tall werewolf from London, the ninja from Oakland, the angels on the bar from Tokyo. There’s a bouncer at the door, too. He’s a heavily tattooed Stormtrooper and he carries a big railgun.
If any of this sounds surreal, it’s not. For any of the 5.5 million people who log in to the virtual world known as Second Life, it’s another day at any one of the dozens of virtual nightclubs. The world, often called “the grid,” is a video game-like environment whose locations have been created entirely by its residents. Whether it’s a nightclub or a shopping mall, a war zone or a racetrack, the options available to socialize virtually are limitless. Nearly every interest is covered, from the sublime to the downright freaky—it’s there.Much of the difference between a virtual world and a typical video game is who controls and creates the content, as well as concrete goals and objectives. You’d be hard-pressed to fi nd a place where a real-life DJ can dominate the streets with a turntable in a place like Liberty City or San Andreas, the settings for Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto franchise.
Having a virtual space to entertain, party and promote is something celebrated by many enthusiasts and pros alike. DJ Doubledown Tandino—the pseudonym of Baltimore-based DJ Brad Reason who spins at real life venues like XS Baltimore—is also in demand for virtual clubs inside of Second Life. One virtual venue where Doubledown performs is Club Republik, a year and a half old nightclub, whose musical offerings include a variety of electronic and rock genres. Republik’s staff is made up of real life music producers, promoters and avid club enthusiasts who work closely in this virtual space, while being geographically separated in the real world.
Elsewhere, in the massively futuristic and fictitious Saijo City, Club 2025, a private, for-hire nightclub set in a rundown warehouse, can be found just up the street from Talib Kweli’s official brownstone apartment. In the same neighborhood are large crates of music where visitors can listen to a variety of known and unknown hip-hop artists, such as Snoop Dogg, Blackalicious, Beeda Weeda and Planet Asia.
Could the future of clubbing take place in an imaginary place such as this? Could we learn to socialize in a place that’s a hybrid between MySpace and Xbox LIVE? With increasing appearances and performances by artists such as Jay-Z and Chamillionaire, and an increasing richness and variety in the soundtracks of traditional video games, the crossover could be happening right now.
We’ve seen the mix of music and video gaming with such titles like Def Jam: Icon, a street fighting title that fuses hip-hop music, culture and lifestyle into the gameplay. And in Second Life, a completely freestyle universe, the indies and majors walk and talk and club (or fly or parachute or swim) together.
Talib Kweli’s binary brownstone has five floors where guests can watch his latest video, play pool, shoot darts or head up to the rooftop where there’s a full stage and plenty of room to dance. And while you’re standing up there, take a moment and look off into the horizon. You might see someone else’s submarine-helicopter rising up out of the nearby river, as the pilot and their passengers head to the next jumpin’ club.