Words by Peter Quattrocelli
A high-tech (free) solution for electronic music lovers looking for the dance floor.
On the eve of Melbourne’s fourth closing, a collective sense of disappointment fell on the city as the dreaded “postponed” announcements flooded the mailboxes and social media, but a team of Melbourne DJs managed to keep the his scheduled concert.
Her dance floor was packed with more than 100 music lovers, but without breaking any of the five rules for getting out of the house, and not at Richmond’s Corner Hotel as planned.
Instead, the killers danced alone at home, but practically danced side by side in a world of animated games, meticulously customized by the designers in a virtual radish.
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Enabled by computer hardware and virtual reality (VR) headphones, the virtual radish was led by Loner, a team of local musicians and DJs. It was just one of the many regular events that have spawned VRChat, an online multiplayer virtual reality game that launched in 2014.
Because the electronic music scene is universally abused by the constant blockages of COVID-19, this virtual world has become an antidote for those who want to return to the dance floor.
“I think what’s happening in virtual reality right now is something important,” says Lincoln Donelan, co-founder of Loner. “People are slowly seeing that there is real content for virtual reality.”
In June, the VRChat team announced a round of Series D investments that garnered $ 80 million in funding. The team and investors recognized the rave scene, including Loner, for its ability to “set and raise the bar repeatedly” on the platform.
The animated world is not photorealistic, but it strives to mimic what was expected to be seen in a club desolating electronic music.
“It’s like a dark, underground, shitty place, but it’s where you’ll meet cool people. People you want to make friends with and dance with, ”says Donelan.
In this rave lo-fi scene, rau, the fugitives from the blocking reality can even get virtual party drugs.
“We have pills in the bathroom, you can click and that causes your vision to blur and change colors.”
VRChat people are represented by custom avatars and it’s not uncommon to find yourself on a dance floor in a world full of characters inspired by anime TV shows and game culture.
Since Loner began launching virtual radishes more than a year ago, the collective has nearly 1,200 users on its discord server, an online messaging platform that is used to create the community that waits impatiently. details on how they can join the upcoming party.
The most popular events reach capacity instantly, with events held at VRChat at this stage limited to about 200 users.
Additional guests wait until a venue opens, providing an air of exclusivity similar to waiting in a club queue until it’s your turn for security to get your hands on.
Donelan says part of the inspiration for creating Loner was from the mediocre experiences he and his friends had at offline virtual events during the blockades.
“They were exaggerated and sticky. Even though you were in virtual reality, I was still sitting there watching something happen, there was no interaction, ”he says.
Chris Hornyak, a video essay living in New Jersey and creator of YouTube videos The Virtual Underground: Introduction to VRChat’s Rave Scene – which has garnered more than 18,000 views since May – described his first radish as “different from anything” he had experienced.
One event in particular left him so immersed that he momentarily blurred the line that exists between the real and the virtual world.
“I remember being in the middle of the room, really listening to the music, then looking to my sides and seeing people dancing,” Hornyak says.
“Someone’s arm turned to the side in front of me and I stepped back a little. My brain fully thinking I was in this space completely. It was as if the headphones were completely gone.
In most cases, people take control of their avatar using a virtual reality headset along with two manual controllers that allow for positional tracking, but the level of immersion varies by hardware.
As a player, Hornyak has access to a powerful PC with virtual reality headphones connected, the Valve Index. It also has a set of body tracking devices that you can connect to your arms and legs that allow you to assign all movement to your online avatar.
It is a configuration that, according to him, costs about 4,500 US dollars (5,800 Australian dollars).
For those who have a less immersive experience but want to participate, VRChat can be accessed via a PC desktop without virtual reality headphones.
“There are people who consider themselves longtime community members who don’t have VR who only have a desk and I think that’s what makes it special,” Hornyak says.
“I think we are, we are witnessing the birth of something that is in its infancy now and I can only imagine what it will be like in five or ten years.”
Australia’s largest music festival, Splendor in the Grass, held an “extended reality” version of its 2021 event in July. It allowed ticket sellers to tour a digital replica of the festival in VR.
The long-standing Burning Man cultural event in the United States will hold a “Virtual Burn” this year. It offers users the opportunity to “immerse themselves, connect with Burners from around the world … and engage in playfully immersive performances and conversations.”
Jacob Grant, a Newcastle-based musician and DJ who performs under the nickname Just A Gent, has played his music at three different Loner events in VR. He says what’s appealing about VRChat events is that they attract a large crowd with whom you can interact.
But he’s not sure if music festivals testing virtual events will be able to mimic this card.
“I think he’s pretty crazy, but I don’t know if he’ll compare to VRChat events when it comes to interacting with the rest of the world.”
While Donelan doesn’t believe Loner’s online parties will replace what’s real, he encourages everyone to give it a try.
Visit the Loner website for more information.