However, all is not lost – there is still time, and nothing to stop you making the most of it. I’m talking about getting on down and experiencing some of the entertainment being laid on at the SL12B stages, which still gives you something like three to four day’s worth of music, mayhem and discussion to immerse yourself in before the scheduled birthday events come to a close on Sunday.
Whilst the exhibits are a showcase for the creators, artists and organisations of SL, there’s more to both our virtual world and its birthday celebration than just these. I tend to think of SLB in terms of a big festival – minus the mud, tents and terrible toilets – and the main stages are the places to go to catch that festival atmosphere. The range of entertainment is astonishing: In just under an hour yesterday, I visited all the stages, where live performances, thumping beats, Italian opera, some sort of tribal gathering, a discussion on building and bizzarely, a gospel dance troupe dressed in feathers and sequins were all represented, (never had I imagined I’d ever hear the phrase “Why not TP your friends to receive God’s blessing”… but this is SL!).
Dropping in to the stages is a great way to expose yourself to something new – you may think you know every genre of music there is, but I’ve been surprised more than a few times by things I’ve heard played at SL birthdays. There are some great live SL artists too, whom you might never come across in the normal course of your inworld travels, and if music and dancing isn’t your thing, you can always drop in to the auditorium – or rather, The Dreamitariam, where you have the opportunity to meet the Lindens, enjoy a spot of poetry, laugh along at stand-up comedy, appreciate drama and ballet and get behind the skin of designers and artists… the programme of events is huge!
The stages at SLB are a treat in themselves – like the iconic Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury – they are far more than just a platform for the artists: They are, in themselves, works of art and there’s no doubt that they lend an enormous sense of occasion and a unique feeling to any performance. Toady Nakamura, of Grendel’s Children, has a distinctive style that is instantly recognisable the moment you set eyes upon his design for the Live Stage, and it’s a real joy to explore, as well as being an amazing venue to see an artist perform. Toady’s Ad Astra Stage from two years ago remains possibly my favourite build ever in SL, and this year’s is pretty damn good too!
If techno/rave is more your style, you really do need to head over to the DJ Stage. Kazuhiro Aridian’s design is a futuristic, organic, Giger-esque, ‘something’ – what exactly, I’m not entirely sure, but it provides a perfect environment for high-octane, industrial, cyber-punk rhythms and sounds, and there’s something quite other-worldly about it, especially when the dancefloor is crowded with a host of avatars that wouldn’t look out of place at Mos Eisley Spaceport!
If the feeling of being trapped inside an alien being, whilst having your eardrums assaulted from all sides, is a bit too much for you why not head off to the more tranquil surroundings of Cube Republic’s Ixtlan Stage? Here you can relax and unwind in a beautiful, earthy hollow, comfortably seated on an old fallen log around a crackling camp fire, and if you fancy stretching your legs there are – quite literally – some hidden gems to be found in the caves and passageways underlying the stage. Well worth the exploring.
Finally, you can’t fail to miss the enormous, and completely stunning Cake Stage, created by Mikati Slade, whom I had the pleasure of speaking to a couple of years back, when her cake stage for SL9B blew me away. This year it’s bigger, better and pinker than ever, utterly crazy in fact, but I love it. It quite literally is the centre-piece to the whole birthday celebration, and you’re going to want to ramp your draw distance as high as you dare in order to drink in all its sugary goodness!
So, music, dance, fun and frolics, as well as eye-popping surroundings – if you haven’t yet made it to SL12B, then now’s the time to head off and sample the delights of the stages before it’s too late and they fall silent for another year.
Go on… you know you want to!
It’s in the world I become
Content in the hum
Between voice and drum
Faithless – God Is A DJ