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Will virtual reality raving actually be as good as the real thing?

The future of clubbing is here, you can view it through a headset

  • Words: Patrick Hinton | Illustration: Alex Jenkins
  • 1 December 2016
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Our first instinctive impression is no. While strapping into a headset that blocks out physical surroundings and presents a digital world might look impressive for the user, the outward image is slightly absurd, and the practicality confusing. BBC quoted one fan as tweeting "Virtual realty [sic] grime raves?! Nothing better”. But have they considered that getting hype in the virtual world and throwing out blind gun fingers into the real world runs the risk of unwittingly gouging your housemate’s eye out? Dance like nobody’s watching they say, but when the dancer is additionally unable to watch themselves, some sticky situations could arise.

There's a surreal element to taking an experience defined by vibrant energy and a heaving mass of bodies and packaging it into a solo pursuit at home. It leaves a faintly sour taste, recalling middle-aged Twitter users watching Glastonbury highlights on TV and posting with airs of deluded smugness about their clean toilets and the lack of mud in their living room. Clubbing should be more about throwing yourself into a situation that challenges your day-to-day life and opens you up to new, visceral experiences than about home comforts. In the landscape of 2016 and the way the world is shifting, do we really need more disconnectedness?

That said, there are people who aren’t able to club every weekend, or at all, for a myriad of reasons, so tuning into DJs online can become an important function. Video streams have soared to immense popularity this decade. On any given day at any given time you can find yourself locked into a Gqom showcase in Cape Town or kicking back to the blissful sounds of a Vancouver house party, getting an insight into music movements across the globe that would otherwise be unreachable. As the next step in technological advancement, virtual reality will be able to provide a more immersive affair of this kind.

But when it comes down to an authentic experience, we can’t envisage virtual raves getting close to the real thing. Many of the best dancefloors in the world ban mobiles phones, with one reason being that you can’t truly get down ‘n’ dirty while looking at a screen.

Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter

Alex Jenkins is a freelance illustrator and regular contributor to Mixmag. Follow him on Instagram

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