Swimming is not a pursuit that i particularly enjoy, in much the same way that root canal surgery is not something i particularly enjoy. Whilst there’s nothing to beat a morning shower, or a good soak in the bath, and i’ve no objection to being caught in the odd downpour, the whole ritualised swimming thing just doesn’t float my boat. Perhaps it’s the rigmarole that ‘going for a swim’ entails – if it’s at the beach, there’s flapping towels, sand, gruesome and/or painful nastiness underfoot, the foul taste of seawater (why can’t they make it cherry juice flavour?) and the inevitability of being completely unable to find your way back to your spot on the beach when you come back out again. At the pool it’s no better – communal changing rooms, stinging eyes, the impossibility of conversation, screaming kids and the lingering fragrance of eau de chlorine for the rest of the day. Even worse, my eyesight being what it is, the moment i step into the water, i’m effectively blind, as well as wet, it just doesn’t make for a pleasant experience. Mercifully, none of these misgivings apply to sl – indeed, the bonus of being unable to drown oneself and able to move around unhampered, as if on dry land, can make underwater experiences positively pleasurable in the virtual world, doubly so when people have gone out of their way to create stunning aquatic pieces for you to explore and enjoy.
Even so, i have to admit that even in sl my ventures mostly take place above the waves – i suppose sometimes it can be difficult to make the shift in perception that’s needed to fully appreciate the possibilities that sl opens up to those who are prepared to put aside the more usual approaches to viewing the world and grasp opportunities offered by a virtual world, where normality is whatever we decide it should be. One of the big innovations at SL9B is the introduction of water-based Sims – such a good idea too. Even if, like me, you normally prefer to stay dry, there’s an amazing array of displays to whet your appetite, (sorry, bad pun!). Ranging from floating on the water’s surface, to towering above it, hiding beneath it and even bringing the two elements of air and water together in one coherent concept, the water exhibits are a real treat.
To really appreciate them, you have to be prepared to get your feet – and pretty much everything else – wet… but it’s well worth the effort; i even managed to find some free towels to vigorously dry myself off with afterwards!
Towering over the water, you can’t miss the Lake Stage – somehow it reminds me of the Sydney Opera House, although it looks nothing like it; perhaps something to do with the organic shape and form, and the way that it seems to have been thrust from the waters below. You might however, if you’re not looking, miss the Sunken Stage, deep beneath the lake – a mermaid grotto of music and merriment – quite charming!
Like the Sunken Stage, there are a whole raft of builds, (sorry, even worse pun!), that utilise the space beneath the water to the full. Here you can dive with dolphins, canoodle with sharks and wrestle with mermaids… or is it the other way round? For a landlubber like me, it was a refreshing change and a bit of an eye-opener to be exposed to another world that, until now, i’ve seen very little of – and i thoroughly enjoyed the new sights and sensations.
The creativity isn’t just hidden away beneath the waves, either – many exhibitors have used the space above the water to great effect too, providing spaces to explore, sit and relax, to discover new pastimes and little islands of peace and serenity – a welcome respite from the gaudiness and noise of the celebration all around. i’d heartily recommend a visit to the water Sims, even if you’ve never previously considered a life on, or under, the ocean wave before, who knows… the siren song of the sea may yet reel you in!
Les a berces
Le long des golfes clairs
Et d’une chanson d’amour
Charles Trenet – La mer