|Sara and Magika Dancing|
Clubs in Second Life © (SL) are the main platform for avatars’ entertainment. Over the years, unique categories of clubs have evolved, and Jazz Clubs in particular have taken off in a direction that might not be obvious to the uninitiated.
Jazz, as a genre of music, might be dismissed as esoteric and difficult, and some avatars might shun Jazz Clubs for that reason. To those that might want to explore Jazz Clubs as a vehicle for socializing, it may be intimidating to end up somewhere full of dancing couples and virtually nonexistent local chat interaction. Stareyes Galaxy dressed up to the tees and went to some clubs to see what the phenomenon really is about.
|Stareyes, Sara and Magika|
I frequent many Jazz Clubs and have founded good friendships at these, and consequently, I had some prior expectations. The establishments are usually built tall and spacious, and furnished lavishly, usually with red carpet and hardwood furniture, or leather chaises lounges. A stage is raised at one end of the main room, and live performers and DJs fill the schedules sometimes around the clock. The music is usually “romantic” instead of cutting-edge improvisational styles. I had the chance to interview personnel and performers, as well as visitors, on their goals and expectations as providers and patrons of the Jazz Club experience.
I first went to Phat Cat’s which is one of the most venerable Jazz venues, and met there with Sara Flinker Lederberg and her husband and promoter Magika. Sara, “The Enchantress” is a well-known disc jockey (DJ) with several years’ experience, whom I first heard here. She performs, besides at Phat Cat’s, at Frank's Elite, Foxxies, and Wygrove Ballroom.
SLE: All the venues you play at might be considered as romantic places, for couples to meet. The question of the day is: "What goes on in Jazz Clubs?"
Magika: Yes indeed they are. In either venue we have witnessed proposals. We have been invited to some of the weddings from those proposals.
Sara: I talk to the guests in open chat and IM and play romance music and create an enchanted room for people to be in love. I bring shalom, blessing and love to them with my music.
SLE: Many performers rely on audience interaction, yet I see very little of this sometimes in Jazz Clubs. Does this bother you Sara?
Sara: At times, but I believe they are talking to each other at that point. We get a good glimpse [of IMs] at times... sometime just by the way they act or even the type of dance they are doing for a song I am playing.
Magika: I believe we may have some influences as to what happened on the dance floor, Stareyes (winks).
SLE: Yes - I believe the music is often a great part of "what goes on." Is there anything you might want to say to our readers, about the Jazz Clubs and the experience one is expected to get there?
Magika: Well, in most decent Jazz Clubs, treat all persons equally if they comply with the rules and regulations, and if they do most should have a very romantic and pleasant experience in most clubs and not only in Jazz Clubs either.
|Sara and Magika|
SLE: You two make a beautiful couple. Thank you both for the interview, and have a great night!
Sara and Magika then proceeded to make the best of their evening and disappeared among the dancers. I next talked to Stephano Zepp, the owner of Phat Cat’s since three years ago. He was taking it easy, lounging on a couch at his club.
|Stareyes and Stephano Zepp|
SLE: You provide a venue for people to socialize. What do you see is the main motivation for avatars coming here?
Stephano: They come here to meet and to dance with each other, listen to the DJs, and chat with each other, and the staff.
SLE: One of your DJs commented having witnessed marriage proposals, here at Phat Cat’s. Do you think romance is also a major motivator?
Stephano: Yes I believe so. We have some couples falling in love, doing proposals etc. The DJs play jazz or romantic music, and the dress code is formal, so that also might have something to do with it.
SLE: In a strict sense, I find the music often quite a departure from "jazz"…
Stephano: Romantic music, yes but some DJs do more jazz or big band, it depends a bit on the DJ and the time of the day.
SLE: Would you like to give a message to our readers, regarding the jazz club experience?
Stephano: Phat Cat's jazz club is the oldest ballroom in Second Life with the best DJs for an ultimate romantic experience.
|Geo Somerset in front of Bogart's|
In Phat Cat’s I also met with Mr. Geo Somerset who admits he is a frequent visitor there, as well as at Bogart’s and Frank’s Elite. He said he prefers these due to the clientele and absence of lag, at most times. To Geo, “They should be about having a good time and great music. It’s about socializing and having a good time.“ We also discussed the music in Jazz Clubs. “Jazz was almost the exclusive domain of black Afro-Americans - it came from speakeasies and gin joints, the home and front of the mob. In SL, it’s where couples go to dance and enjoy good music and as for the music all the so called jazz clubs play a variety of music and hold dedicated tribute events the amount of traditional jazz that gets played is no more than 2% of the total music! [The music] tends to be relaxed and romantic, in the main SL big jazz clubs.” Geo told me he had met his partner in a Jazz venue, so his was another Jazz Club romance story. He also commented on the “code”: “Most single ladies on SL won’t dance dance with partnered males or vice versa - there seems to be an unwritten moral standard that purveys throughout SL.”
|Himata Lilysan at Sweethearts|
I met Himata Lilysan at Sweethearts, one of her favorite venues, which is always very crowded, and where there usually is a lot of local chat interaction. She said she also goes to Frank’s and Bogart’s. She ended up telling me the story of how she met the love of her life in a Jazz Club.
SLE: What, to you, are "Jazz Clubs" about?
Himata: To me they are all about friendly and lovely people. That’s the one thing I like most about Jazz clubs.
SLE: Do you participate in the local chat?
Himata: Mostly I do but not always. I mostly chat in local chats if my friends are chatting in it with me.
SLE: Do you get a lot of dance offers?
Himata: Mostly, but I don't always answer to strangers... Some of them just get all weird and start flirting with me. And I don't like that one bit... and not only because in a relationship but also because it is not right...
SLE: Do you believe they come to these places to look for a sex partner?
Himata: I wouldn't say that I'm sure of that they do come here just to find sex partners here... There are places for that kind of things....
SLE: Do you think there is a chance to fall in love, dancing with someone?
Himata: To this I can say that it is true: that’s how I have met my love.
SLE: Oh really? Can you tell our readers about how it happened?
Himata: It happened a long time ago and very quickly... he saw me sitting in the Bogart's Jazz club, and he asked me for a dance. That’s how we have met.
SLE: When you danced, did you get the feeling "this might lead to something" immediately?
Himata: At the moment that we were dancing no... But after a long time I realized that I miss a part of me - that was the hardest time for me.
SLE: Okay. So the dance experience was important to start the relationship?
Himata: For me it was a bit of a shock that I'd feel like that after a dance.
SLE: You continue to go to Jazz Clubs even when you are in a relationship. Do you dance with partnered men?
Himata: No, now I mostly try to avoid dancing with men that ask me for dancing because I'm in a relationship.
SLE: Do you feel dancing always has the "flirtatious" element in it?
Himata: In a way dancing is quite proper for guys to flirt with girls or the other way around... I think that also for others flirting helps to feel more confident of themselves.
SLE: Okay, but you don't want to do that anymore now that you are with someone?
Himata: Now, because I'm with someone I don't even answer to those who start their chat from the flirt. I just don't have anything to say to them...
SLE: Finally, is there anything that you would like to say to our readers, some of whom might never have been to a Jazz Club, on what to expect, and how to approach the idea of going to one?
Himata: Well, for the readers I can only say that you don't have to expect much you only have to be yourself and have a good time in Jazz clubs. Much can happen if you don't expect anything from the visit in the club so my advice would be to enjoy and have fun when visiting the Jazz clubs.
I probed the flirting aspect further with a former escort, “Miss M.” at Frank’s. “The trick here is to dress a bit different,” she told me. “Wearing a gown is a lure that won't get a lot of bites.” This was a surprise take on the venue, as it advertises formal wear as the dress code. She then told of her technique: “You have to let them take you to their ‘skybox’ kicking and screaming. It is important that we don't push it.” Miss M. had a sardonic view on her experience in Jazz Clubs, as she has had more than her share of men going after her on her looks. “Eventually you meet someone who likes to talk,” she concedes, apparently only after fending off a few too many propositions. We talked about how men behave on the dance floor, and how one would react to a dance partner’s’ hands venturing a tad too far. She said what she does then depends on her mood. Her closer usually is: “Thanks for a great conversation; may I friend you. Then let it simmer... The next time I come on... ‘IM’, then we will see. By then he has decided that he wants me in pixel sex mode!”
Having explored the Jazz Clubs as a journalist, I got the feeling that I wasn’t being told quite “everything”. In most of the clubs I visited, there were couples dancing together, oblivious with regard to the local chat. Clearly, they were immersed in a very private IM session together. It was also obvious that the more crowded places had more of a feel of a “singles” venue. With the tiered membership system, “elite” or “premier” venues cater to clients who are willing to invest Lindens, to spend time with similar-minded quality company. In every place I went, the staff were courteous and welcoming, and the patrons mostly as well. It was usually an uplifting experience to visit these clubs, where everyone had put on “the Ritz” and was enjoying the music, their companion, and the atmosphere. What happened in the respective IM’s in which the dancing couples were engrossed, remained in large part a mystery to me, and that is as it should be.
What really happens in Jazz Clubs may very well best stay in Jazz Clubs.