When Covid closed down the world, the most interesting places to go were in VR; expansive vistas, imaginary landscapes, and not least-of-all, amazing nightlife, filled with people, dancing and laughing and socializing, sometimes falling in love, all with no fear of catching anything and dying.
If you have not ever been in VR, you have an amazing experience in store for you. It’s not like a video game that you watch on a screen. You feel as though you are really somewhere else, and when you take off your headset, you feel as though you have been away. It’s that immersive; it tricks the brain.
Nothing will ever be the same for you.
The world is open again now, for the moment anyway, but we still think that VR is more than worth visiting.
Here are a few of the best things going on this weekend in our adjacent world.
Friday, December 17, 2021 from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM (EST), in AltspaceVR; free
For their “Keep on Techno Night,” organizers Owen Offset and Jake Upfront have designed a night of clubhopping among four VR hot spots, each of which is based on a legendary nightclub that is not currently open — but you may recognize them once you are inside.
Jake tells us to expect “five international Techno DJs/producers, playing the latest techno and hard techno … we will dance in four different realistic VR venues, all of which are optimized for Meta Quest 2,” although you can visit through any VR headset compatible with AltspaceVR. As with many VR experiences, you can also visit via your PC or Mac, though the true immersive experience requires a headset.
“Three of the clubs,” Jake says, “were in operation until they were closed for COVID a week ago. And the fourth had its last party in 1996. The three clubs do have some variations from the original clubs, so they are rather inspired on these clubs. It is after all VR, so you can make whatever your heart so desires. I just build and learn from the events we host regularly, what works in VR, what people like and what can be improved….”
The prior versions of Ecliptic were great nights out, and this weekend’s evening promises to be downright spectacular.
“It’s amazing,” Jake says, “what we can do with the XR2 chip.”
Thursday, December 16, 2021 from 6:30 PM to 10:30 PM (EST), in AltspaceVR; free
An open-mic night at a beautiful duplex nightclub on the first two floors of a sky-high mansion. Perform if you want, and you could win a real trophy. (It will arrive in the mail.) Or just relax and watch, the performers are pretty good. Smoke a cigar, drink a martini, lounge in the pool, have a word with Matty, the proprietor, who’s a nice fellow. Be careful on the balcony … the view is beautiful, but you can fall off the balcony, into the bay, if you don’t watch your step.
Friday, December 17, 9 pm (EST) in AltspaceVR; free
A laid-back party on a tiny, sandy islet beside a small dock, with a tiki bar and some nice tunes. Go and mingle, juggle some flaming torches. It’s a pleasant, cheerful place to hang out and drink a virtual beer.
Saturday, December 18, 9 pm (EST) in Venues; free
“Venues” is a VR multiplex, with numerous programs that play simultaneously on gigantic multi-story screens in beautiful, tiered theaters.
The lobby is a bustling social scene, and you will meet some of the most outgoing folks in VR here. But be sure to mute or block the kids who run around without adult supervision; a benefit of VR is that you can block people who annoy you, and then you just never see them again.
Don’t you wish real life was like this?
This performance is simulcast from Pasadena on Venue’s huge screen, which promises to be a spectacle.
We haven’t seen it, but of course it will be good.
Always open; admission free
The Multiverse Planetarium is a beautiful new science museum dedicated to the solar system and space flight. The space is filled with exhibits, games, toy rockets and viewing platforms from which you can observe all the planets up close.
Recently refurbished to add more great stuff, including a fun new maze, it’s often under-utilized, but it’s thorough, informative, lively and bound to catch on.
One hopes more museums will soon grace the virtual world.
(2011, dir. Martin Scorsese); any time, in BigScreen; $4.99/person.
BigScreen was once a virtual movie theater lobby with virtual movie theaters — you would buy your ticket and go in and watch a movie in a virtual audience, a magical experience during the dark days of the pandemic.
Business logistics got in the way (VR’ers don’t like to show up on time), but one hopes a real “going out” theater experience will eventually return.
Still, today you can invite a bunch of friends to watch a 3D movie in your virtual home theater (in your mansion) or in a gigantic, old-style movie theater.
Some 3D movies just don’t hold up on BluRay and demand to be seen as originally intended. Hugo is a prime example, and BigScreen is the best place to see this terrific movie.
In these pages, Steven S. Drachman called Hugo, which is based on a graphic novel by Brian Selznick, “a really atypical Scorsese movie, a movie kids really loved when it came out (and which taught them something about the history of movies), as well as an incredible recreation of yesterday’s Paris.”
See it as soon as you can, and bring the kids.
Sunday, December 19, 2021 from 9:15 PM to 11:30 PM (EST) in Altspace VR; free
A compelling recreation of a vintage Harlem blues club, with cigarette girls, fried chicken and stage performances by deceased Harlem blues legends.
Outside the club, you can wander the streets of Harlem. And remember: “The Boom Boom Room is not responsible for any raids or burglaries that might happen while you are on the premises.”
Preceded by a performance at THE FLYMAXX of a new episode of “Becoming The Moe-ettes.”
Audere Magazine writes regularly about VR and technology. See more here.