I have to admit, I had never heard of Distant Thunders before in all my 3 years on Second Life.
I also have to admit I’m not a rock music kind of guy, but I put aside my preconceptions and headed over to gain an insight into what goes on over there. I found a warm and friendly place where people actually speak to you when you enter for the first time. I was made to feel welcome from the second I walked in, and that matters to someone who has been to places where you’re just another cash cow for the club.
So I was intrigued to get the assignment of writing the Spotlight feature for the SLE. At the anointed time, I was whisked over to the board room and was greeted by a variety of people, including the owners, Joy and Kimmy Maldor.
Mackenzie Abbot: Why did you decide to set up Distant Thunders? Aren't there enough clubs in SL already?
Joy: I never had plans to open a club but I was trying to get a club to my sim when I heard they had changed the sim. And when I spoke to the owner of that club, the response was not very good, so I decided to open one of my own.
M: Was it difficult in the early days, setting up a club?
Joy: It’s easy to open a club, anybody can, but holding on to it is very difficult, 24/7 makes it worse, so yes having a club in SL is a very difficult indeed.
M: And how long have you been open?
J: 1 year
M: Is it disheartening during those quiet times, when a DJ and Host/ess are playing to an empty (or nearly empty) club?
J: We do sponsored events, sometimes just contests to attract VIP’s, but many times it’s what it is, next set improves.
K: We also have really good host/hostess that are good at drawing VIPs in when things become slow.
J: Yes I agree.
M: So what is the unique selling point of Distant Thunders?
J: We value our VIP’s and give personal attention. Good music, friendly place, fun hangout.
Fiona Whelan: I would also say the different options you have available to them
K: And a lot of other fun things to do while they're here
J: For example, the other attractions at the club include a bowling alley, white water rafting, jet ski-ing, hang gliding, fan boats, sail boarding, ATV riding, paintballing, biker ball, the DT Mansion, weekly sponsored events, firing range, balloon rides and sky diving. There is something for everyone.
S: and our DJs don’t just play music, they interact and make the VIP’s part of the set.
K: It's about the experience they can have here. It’s a great place to hang out with friends.
M: And is that a bike track I saw out there?
J: This is a Rock and Ride club, so anybody who likes to ride, we have a great track for you to use.
M: I took the Editor of the SL Enquirer out on my bike and nearly killed her. I hope you have insurance
J: failure is the stepping stone of success; you will ride well next time :)
M: I appreciate the faith you have in me, but I fear it may be misplaced. Anyway, if you had to sell Distant Thunders in 3 words, what would they be?
J: Rock Ride & Play
M: That's probably the best answer to that question I’ve ever seen. Ok last question, what's next for Distant Thunders? Where do you see the club this time next year?
J: Well we have some new services in progress, including Distant Thunder Wedding Venue with end to end wedding service, Distant Thunder DJ/Host School, Distant Thunder Fashion Academy, Distant Thunder Studio and the Distant Thunder Monthly Magazine.
K: Still here, and more popular and better than ever!
M: As a fashion designer myself, I’m intrigued about the Fashion Academy. What’s that?
J: Distant Thunder Fashion Academy is about helping creators in the fashion community showcase their products. We also have a school for training those who wish to learn the methods and tools it takes to excel in the modelling field. We host a fashion show at the end of every month on the Distant Thunder sim too.
At this point, I concluded the interview and was about to thank everyone for their time when Joy stopped me
J: I would like to take this opportunity, if I may, to thank the DT staff for their hard work every single day. I would also like to thank the management staff for their commitment and hard work, as well as all the people who stood by me for building Distant Thunder.
M: I'm sure each and every single one of them appreciates that sentiment
K: We have the greatest staff you could ever find in Second Life.
Leaving the boardroom and crossing the dance floor, I get an overwhelming sense that Joy and Kimmy take an immense amount of pride in their business and staff. Not once did the subject of making money come up. In fact, they seem to be ploughing what money they do make, back into making the club bigger and a more fun place to be. This reporter finds no fault with that. Too many clubs in Second Life seem hell-bent on making as much money as they can at the expense of services or staff well being. Maybe there’s something in that for all of us to consider.
It is refreshing to see that Distant Thunder stands out and truly appreciates their staff and visitors as well as shows where their priorities are for making it a fun place to be.