News! The Pino 1951 Bar Has Been Reborn As the Pino 1971 Bar: Welcome to My Favourite Second Life Bar

Last July, I wrote about a favourite place in Second Life, called the Pino 1951 bar:

I have a voluptuous 1950s-styled avatar named Coupon Clip (pictured above), whom I quite often take out to the Pino 1951 bar to dance for tips. The Pino bar is all red crushed velvet curtains, smooth jazz vocals, dry martinis, cigar smoke, and spotlit stripper poles. The dancers try their best to entice tips from the clientele. Being able to keep up the witty banter often had more to do with getting a good tip than actually stripping off your clothes, and I do have to confess that I was pretty good at the repartee with the customers. (My favourite line was “This is just a side gig, honey…I have a Ph.D. in breast physics.” Don’t worry; that link is safe for work.) It was harmless fun, and I just assumed that the bar would be around forever, whenever I felt the urge to slap on a slinky outfit and role play a Fifties exotic dancer back in the old Rat Pack days.

Well, the Pino 1951 bar shut down unexpectedly, due to a dispute between the management and the owner. The original proprietor then went and set up The 1969 Bar (a.k.a. The Wrong Hole), which still exists to this day.

But there was something special about the 1951 Pino bar. It wasn’t just a stripper bar; it was a place where people would gather and have conversations of all kinds. It had a real neighbourhood bar feeling, as rare a thing to find in real life just as it is in Second Life!

So you can imagine my happy surprise when I recently discovered that the Pino 1951 bar has made a comeback, looking very much the same as it did before. The new name is the Pino 1971 bar, and it appears to be under new ownership. As before, your landing point is a dark, rainy alley just outside the bar’s entrance, complete with the Live Nudes neon sign:

You enter, and the smoky, slightly seedy, dated interior is just as I remembered it: all crushed red velvet, a yellow neon jukebox, a constant music stream of jazz vocalists, a small bar and couches to sit and talk:

At the far end of the bar are three round pedestals with stripper poles and chairs, where the strip-tease artists keep up a running banter with the customers, hoping to extract a few tips from the gentlemen observers.

I think it’s the attention to details, and the atmosphere that sets this place from so many other places on the grid, the evocation of a particular, long-gone era, an era well before the pandemic that is currently weighing so heavy on everybody’s minds. A refuge. An oasis. An escape.

If you want to visit the Pino 1971 bar for yourself, make sure that you have set your avatar account to be able to access Adult content (because sometimes naughty things can go on upstairs in the motel!). If you don’t know how to set that up, press Ctrl-P in your Firestorm viewer to pull up your Preferences window, then click the General tab, then hit the drop-down menu under “I want to access content rated:”, and set it to General, Moderate, Adult as shown here (see the red arrow). Remember to save your changes!

Once you’ve done that, you can visit the Pino 1971 bar at this SLURL. (Be sure to accept the recommended windlight settings offered on arrival, which add greatly to the overall atmosphere. And also be sure to find and ride the elevator and explore the entire building! The attention to detail, especially in the penthouse, is astounding. The designer did a fantastic job.)

Vanity Fair (or one of her alts) is usually here most evenings, listening to the music stream, sedately sipping a coffee or a cocktail, and chatting with the working girls and the other patrons. We’d love to see you there! Please drop by for a visit and experience a bygone era.

Vanity Fair in a contemplative moment at the old Pino 1951 bar (January, 2019)

A Report from the First Day of the BlockDown 2020 Conference

As I wrote about earlier (here), the BlockDown 2020 blockchain/cryptocurrency virtual conference is taking place April 16th and 17th, 2020 on a special-purpose, white-label platform operated by Sinespace.

I got an email yesterday evening inviting me to download a special version of the BlockDown client software, visit the BlockDown Lobby area, and customize my avatar. (Note that this is a separate client from the regular Sinespace client, and you must have purchased a ticket to the conference to be able to attend.)

So I decided to pay a visit before the conference started at 9:00 a.m. CET (2:00 a.m. my local time here in Winnipeg). The BlockDown Lobby area is futuristic, spacious, and attractive, with plenty of space for avatars to mix and mingle:

However, there is no getting around the fact that there is still an overwhelming amount of information presented for newbies to process and digest, both in the PDF guide attached to that invitation email, and on in-world bulletin boards in the lobby!

There was always going to be a learning curve associated with holding a conference in a virtual world, but I really think this could have been drastically simplified. After all, these are crypto people first and foremost, who might not be all that interested in the finer details of avatar customization, attachment repositioning, and shopping for new duds to stand out from the crowd.

To make things a bit easier for those brand new to virtual worlds, there are eight starter avatar models at the landing point, which you just click on to grab a predetermined avatar look (four male and four female, including a couple of astronaut suits):

Me, I immediately hit the Shop button and spent some of my starter 30,000 “Blocks” currency to make myself look a little different from all the cookie-cutter avatars around me! (I also fattened myself up a bit to match the real-life me. Sinespace is still among the very few virtual worlds where I can actually adjust the body sliders to be overweight! Hey, it’s my reality, I may as well embrace it.)

New eyes, new skin, new hair, new jacket, a little extra avoirdupois…much better!

A couple of Sinespace employees were present to help out the newbies, whom I chatted with for a bit:

So, all set up for the conference, I set my alarm for 1:45 a.m. and went to bed. I landed up getting up once in the middle of the night for about half an hour, then going back to bed, and then finally waking up again this morning at 5:30 a.m. to revisit the conference.

There is a small trade show floor, rather sparsely attended when I visited, with virtual booths (some manned by avatar sales reps):

I was slightly disappointed when I realized that most, if not all, of the featured speakers were not going to be represented by in-world avatars, but by video screens in the conference auditorium:

To be honest, I really came more for the novelty of attending a white-label version of Sinespace, designed specifically for an event. I simply wanted to see what would be the same as regular Sinespace, and what would be different. My interest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies only extends as far as blockchain-based virtual worlds, so most of the presentation topics have not been not that applicable to me.

As I predicted, almost all the other avatars I encountered were one of the eight basic models provided in the lobby, with absolutely zero modifications. Were it not for the name tags over everybody else’s heads, I would have had a great deal of difficulty distinguishing between people!

The BlockDown 2020 conference runs all day today and tomorrow; here is the complete conference agenda. Tickets cost £20.00 and can be bought through their website.