Minding the Muse: The Leonard Cohen Club
To be popular, a club needs to have an identity, which means a focus or theme. Beyond simply choosing a genre, The Leonard Cohen Club narrows its inspiration from the iconic musician, Leonard Cohen. The virtual LCC sets up an expectation for hearing the music of this influential artist, which can be satisfied every Tuesday with a live feed. Magnifying this mood of music with sincerity and deep insights into the club environment, Harry Cannned, pjotterman Belgar, and Cerenaika Cimino collaborate. Their many activities and events satisfy a very loyal, and a very diverse following. Perhaps it is in the narrowness of focus onto a single source of inspiration that makes their appeal so diverse!
This trio seems to exemplify a comment from a recent real life interview with John Mellencamp, who related that the best advice he ever got came from Pete Seger:
“The way to be successful is to stay small and keep doing it.”
The work involved in growing momentum, pleasing loyal patrons, and having fun, are all exemplified when talking with this collaborative trio. Their realism comes from hard-won experience while they preserve their common motivations.
“The Leonard Cohen Club is different from any other club in Second Life®. First, it is not commercial (there are no shops), which creates freedom in all the things we do. Thinking out of the box is not genuine in commercial clubs. Second, the music played here will almost never be heard in any other SL club.” —pjotterman Belgar
“As a noncommercial club, magnet Cohen is in the middle of friendships, good music, and the TEAM! The club has grown bigger than I could imagine when starting. Even though it has borders to manage, as long and the team is around we can do it: Anke Zamani (Dance Manager and DJ), Fly Looseer (Barkeep and DJ), MlleNikoletta Resident (Blog Design) and DJs Mike, Eaton, Plokin, Albert.
“A commercial club must hire hostesses; in LCC every Regular is a natural host. Yet there must be the strong commitment from the owners. The biggest challenge in running a club is daily presence, and having a big family. We care for the people in our club, with a balance between growing slowly or getting more staff.” —Harry Cannned
“Clubs fail after a while when there is too little commitment. Maybe they don’t realize it takes a lot of time and effort to run a club properly. Growth goes gradually, and we adjust in the meantime to the ‘new situation.’ Flexibility is very important. A challenge for me is to keep giving people the feeling they belong to the Cohen family, and they keep feeling good in our club.” —Cerenaika Cimino
“When clubs fail, it is mostly due to poor organization and thinking they need a hit for early success. People who start a club expect this. But Harry sticks to his principles. In the beginning, he kept this club on low profile to form the basis for it’s success. Growth always comes with changes, and the basis has to stay what it is.” —pjotterman Belgar
“Some basics don’t change. For example, we have no scripts/pop ups that invite mem- bership. [We have principles as a structure— and then evolve within them. Most impor- tantly, having a good base attracts good people. We are lucky to have talented staff, including DJs. We never look for someone to join the staff; they were just there… taking time. They were a regular first and liked to be a part of it. So, if I have to wake up early in real life, I go early to bed with a good feeling: the club is in good hands!” —Harry Cannned
SL has a hypnotic effect when first joining. It takes time to find a good balance between time spend in-world and at- tending to necessities in real life. This is a journey for each person that has phases of initiation. But, once the honeymoon ends, a balance must be found to get the best from each. Club owners rely on help to cover all the time slots. To grow and keep a community vital takes a vari- ety of talents and efforts. DJ’s help to bring in the audience that grows to sustain the club. But neither world can flourish if in conflict. Blending comes from experimenting and finding what is right for each. And it comes from knowing how to scale, deciding when enough is enough.
“For me, there is no difference between SL and real life, especially since I met this club, and more specifically, Harry and Ceren. And I have met my fiance here— she’s living with me now—so the balance cannot be more perfect.” —pjotterman Belgar
“My balance between real life and SL is ok, except that I would like to have more time for SL.” —Cerenaika Cimino
“There are amazing things in SL that I miss in real life— back-ground music, flying, teleporting!” —Harry Cannned
“A lot of things are much easier here— making gardens, building, making yourself look good! I only miss eating here! Actually, I look in SL as I wish I could look in real life.” —Cerenaika Cimino
“Ceren looks nicer in real life, I met her at a Cohen concert in Berlin— and more members were there too! Now we can put some real faces to avatars!” —Harry Cannned
It is the job of a club to welcome and entertain guests, and make each feel special. Building a community around the club is a bond this trio shares. To feel a part of a place virtually means that it is comfortable both for older avatars as well as for newbies. However, no older avi can resist giving advice to the new, so a club is a great place to give and get it because clubs deal with all kinds of people. Strategy is necessary. Values of evaluation matter, behavior is judged, and to become part of the activity means sharing expectations.
“Many people may come here to play someone else but I think you feel best by being your own self—by being authentic.” —Cerenaika Cimino
“Many escape to this platform just to finally be themselves!” —pjotterman Belgar
“It is better to not give advice. It doesn’t help anyway; people need to experience. They only listen to advice if they ask for it—mostly where to get items or to find technical help.” —Harry Cannned
“Making mistakes seems the best way to learn. But, the biggest mistake is to think you don’t make them.” —pjotterman Belgar
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INDEX for all contributors and articles
Sim Street Journal #1: Virtual Reveals Real
Sim Street Journal #2: The Old in the New
Sim Street Journal #3: Magicians of Meaning
Sim Street Journal #4: Telling Stories
Sim Street Journal #5: Champions of Expression
Sim Street Journal #6: Overlapping Realities
Sim Street Journal #7: Luck Created
Sim Street Journal #8: Facing the Inevitable
Sim Street Journal #9: Motivated Learning
Sim Street Journal #10: Serious Fun
Sim Street Journal #11: Fantasy Fulfillment
Sim Street Journal #12: Insights from Extremes
Sim Street Journal #13: Bridging Boundaries
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