Saturday, April 29, 2017


Why I Relay

In the application to be a DJ at Second Life's Fantasy Faire for Relay for Life, one question is "Why do you Relay?" It's a question that many people have written about. Their stories are highly varied.

I've never had a good answer for it. There have been no medical emergencies in my life. The answer I made on the application is "Everyone is touched by cancer," yet in my case the touch has been from a distance.

Placed among people who have strong and serious reasons to relay, my reason seems trivial. I relay because of the people.

(click the image to view full size)

When I joined Second Life in 2009 it was as an extension to another on-line community I'd known since 2005. I did pretty much the same things in SL that I had done in Uru, which were mostly connected to musical events such as the Silk Road Musical Journey. This became regular in the summer of 2013 when some friends and I started holding our Music Night event in SL.

Music Night got happened because one of the Uru people wanted to introduce a new neighborhood he'd made. He asked me to provide music for a grand opening. We cast no eye toward the future. At the end of that first Music Night, people said they would like a repeat so we did it again the next weekend, and 12 years later we're still doing it.

Music Night tends to ramble, both musically and conversationally. Occasionally something called "Fantasy Faire" would come up.
"Kt, you should apply to Fantasy Faire. Your music is perfect for it."
"Hmm? What's that?"
"It's a big event for RFL."
"Relay for Life. American Cancer Society."
"I see."

I demurred. You see, I don't consider myself a "real" DJ. I'm just a man who likes music, and enjoys the sharing. One friend calls me a Musical Curator. I just went on with Music Night and special events like Waltz Nights at New Kadath.

One day I was talking with a friend. She mentioned running the Silk Road Musical Journey for a group called Mieville, in conjunction with their Silk Road Hunt. I agreed, and met some interesting people. Later on I did the Hunt, my first. A month or so after that I received an IM from the Mayor of Mieville, Perryn Peterson, asking if I could play some music for their Theme Dance because their regular DJ was having technical trouble. We moved Music Night to Mieville for the night and had a good time.

That was a "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood..." moment. I was on more people's maps now. I filled in at the Theme Dance a few more times, and then about a year later, Perryn asked me if I could take over for two or three months because their DJ wanted to try something else.
"Are you sure? You've heard what I play. Much different from what you usually have."
"You'll do fine."

So, I did. We moved Music Night from Saturday to Sunday so I could do the dance. Two months turned into three, into four.  At a town meeting, I asked "Are you content with what I'm doing with the Theme Dance? I'll keep going until you find a more suitable DJ."
"We're contented. Don't worry about it."

One can follow someone else's path for only so long before losing all interest. I made gradual, tentative forays away from the more typical rock music for the Theme Dance, mainly because I don't have much rock and I don't like repeating. I'd do my best to find music that fit the theme, and beyond that make the set harmonious. It, basically, turned into Music Night with dancing and they wanted me to continue.

That went on for a year or so. Talk at Music Night again turned to the Fantasy Faire.
"You really should apply, Kt. They need you there."
"OK. I'll do it the next time I'm on."

The next time I logged on there was encouragement from one person, and a link to the application page from another. Well, I can take a hint; I stood up and applied for the 2016 Faire.

I'd never been to the Faire. The only big event I knew was Burn2, for which some friends built things.  After a while I got a notice saying I'd been accepted for a slot, along with the stream information. I started thinking about what to play.

The Faire opened and I went to take a look. Astonishing. And a Quest. I couldn't resist that. Along the way I ended up on the Fairechylde where most of the DJ activity happens.
"Zander, is there a time I can connect to the stream to make sure I have things set properly?"
"Sure. How about in 15 minutes? We don't have anyone at that time. Play until 7, if you want."
"Umm... OK." I'd been expecting a minute at some early hour. "No problem." Connecting went without trouble. I felt out of place but the show went on smoothly.

My formal set took place at the Serenity region, somehow, pretty much by hint and happy coincidence. It simply moved from idea to event without any hassle.

After Fantasy Faire ended, I heard about the Unmasking a Cure Medieval Faire. They had put out a call for DJs, so I signed up. After all, I was experienced now! I met more Relay people there, and heard about the upcoming Relay Weekend. As I walked around the Relay track, impressions gradually soaked in.

In all of the exhibits I saw about cancer, there was a direct, yet non-cynical, depiction of cancer and its effects. I'd worked long enough among cynics to become very tired of people who specialize in finding "clever" ways to cut things down. Here along the Relay track, people had worked together to build.

More that two roads diverge. We walk our own paths.. but we don't have to be alone. I relay because there's good company on the walk.

A note on the image: Alisaundra called for Mers to pose in Fantasy Faire's Opal Flight region for her Emblem Project. She posed us all and I couldn't resist getting a picture for myself. Here's a link to her Flickr page:
Photos of Alisaundra's Emblem Project: Mer

By Ktahdn Vesuvino
Edited and rewritten April 30

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