During the lockdown, one activity came to a sudden halt: partying. That was before Co-reality Collective started partying online!

Are you raising your eyebrows? We get it. At first, we too didn’t believe in it and were quite dubious. The website claims “the REALEST parties you’ll find online” or “have a REAL party online”, but we find it hard to believe. But we tested it… and were quite pleasantly surprised! The collective manages to create an atmosphere, absurd, a real shared moment.

Their parties are such a success, that the collective has been selected to be one of the platforms for the 2020 Burning Man Multiverse, which this year is held online! The festival starts this Sunday, August 30th and lasts a whole week.

We had the opportunity to interview Jessica and Thomas, members of the collective. We share here the secrets of their success!

Co-reality collective contest
Participants taking part to the Pet contest, showing their Furby disguised on Island theme

First things first, our experience of the parties :

Getting ready :

Charlotte attended the Partypelago party in June, then with Yann we went together to the End of the Universe party in early August. We checked the program of the evening, with more information about the theme and activities to get ready (because yes, you have to! The collective claims that these are real parties; do you usually come to theme parties wearing jogging and a jumper? No! Here it’s the same!). For Party at the end of the Universe, the inspirations are quite broad: travel in the past, the future, and even in space!

So we disguised ourselves – with what we have at home, it’s the principle of disguise-during-lockdown. Fluorescent make-up (it must be seen on zoom, so it better be flashy), accessories in aluminium paper on the head and colored clothes: we.are.ready.

Getting there :

To make sure that all the participants get the rules of fun, consent and connection in mind, a funny little video greets us, before we connect in the space. A few simple rules: no one is a spectator, everyone is a participant; no taking pictures without asking the permission; online harassment is real harassment, so it’s forbidden!

Once on the map, we can see the different “rooms” with the current program and the number of participants in each one. And then it’s up to you to play and go wherever you want! We particularly liked the Fantasea Crew, which organizes a series of crazy games and adventures. We also had a tarot reading, martian dialogues, dance contests…

The collective co-reality interview

Hello Jessica, Thomas! Can you tell us about the origins of collective co-reality and how you joined it?

Jessica: The founder of the collective, Ed Cook, calls himself a “party philosopher”. He has been organizing incredible parties for several years, sometimes even lasting a week! He was supposed to organize one on this scale this year, and of course he had to cancel it with the pandemic. But he didn’t want to stop there, so he launched the first online party, “the Zone”, in which there were already founding principles: several “rooms”, a guiding theme, performances, etc.

Thomas: early 2020, I didn’t know Ed! Like a lot of people, I went to several online parties, but it was often quite frustrating. By participating in The Zone, I felt it was very different from what you could find elsewhere, much more fun and engaging! I got in touch with Ed at that time to develop other parties.

How do you characterize collective co-reality evenings?

Jessica: We share magical moments! It’s the same intensity as when you go to a party or an event with a friend. Afterwards, we can think back to that moment, the emotions, the laughter, we really created memories.

Did I think it was possible to experience such a thing on the internet before Co-Reality Collective? Not at all! And yet it works. We manage to mentally transport the participants into a new reality, through a narrative thread sewn with humor, absurdity and benevolence.

The principle of our evenings is that we connect, we arrive on a map with several “rooms”. Each room has a theme and an agenda. You can see the number of people present in each room, and navigate freely!

Tell us about the first co-reality evenings!

Thomas: For the first evening, the participants could not “enter” if they were not disguised. I thought it was great! The idea is not to be dressed in chic outfits, but to have fun and to dress up with the means at hand.

There was also this rather incredible mixed reality experience in the “hot tub” room. To participate, everyone had to get (physically!) into their bathtub on zoom. So we found ourselves among strangers, all together in our hot baths, in the four corners of the world. That was crazy ! In fact, Ed wrote an excellent article that summarizes his learning from the online evenings.

Some people define you as an online nightclub, what do you think?

Jessica: For us it goes much further. Yes of course you can dance, listen to music, but there are also shows, workshops, games, more intimate discussions, exchanges on gender, identity…

Thomas: Yes, we are above all guided by the desire to create a shared reality. It’s like children playing: we all do it “as if” it were true, and we do it so thoroughly that it becomes reality.

co-reality workshop
A workshop on feminity

What are the keys to creating this online “magic circle“?

Jessica: With a lot of preparation!

The first key is to create the narrative thread. With a strong theme that gives a unity that everyone can then hold on to and unleash the imagination. You dig into the theme, find catchy names, develop the visual design and so on. Then we give a lot of material to help participants make it their own! Once registered, they have access to a folder with videos, themed zoom backgrounds, moodboards, easy to find accessories to pimp their outfits, we prepare roles…

How is the co-reality collective organized?

Jessica: There is a small core team, there are about 15 of us, we take care of the marketing, the platform, the creation of the theme and so on. Then there are the room hosts who thematize the evening, create the agenda, recruit performers… And finally the reality rangers, who go from room to room, make sure everything works!

It’s a very flat organization, everyone played all the roles.

What are your next projects ?

Thomas : The very big next project is the organization of the Burning Man, which will take place online this year! We hope to create hundreds of experiences each with their own themes and activities and sell 1000 tickets. The festival will last a whole week, 24/7 !

There will also be increases in the platform. We want to make it as easy as possible to meet and connect.

Jessica: This is a very, very ambitious project, which nobody would have thought of a few months ago!

Co-reality Online Burn camp map
The camp map

What is the vision for the future of the co-reality collective?

Thomas: So far the parties have been non-profit. We all have jobs next to this activity: creating only for fun has given us a lot of freedom. We would never have been able to be as creative and crazy it if we had been a company with a performance objectives, or internal policy… After 10 evenings organized in 5 months, the question of what to do next is still quite open!

Jessica: Regarding the parties, we are thinking of reducing their frequency with the lightening of the lockdown, and making one per month; another option would be a paid subscription for our Sparkle platform for creators, for smaller more fequent events. We are also currently in discussion with a corporate client to organize their annual 3-day seminar, which is cancelled, to be transferred to our platform! We bring both the technology and our know-how to succeed in creating real online sharing moments, and not just boring conference corridors on zoom.

Our method is the same: test and learn!

Last but not least: what’s the hardest and coolest thing about these online parties?

Jessica: the coolest thing is to be able to meet people from all over the world and have magical moments with them! And the hardest part is the huge workload… but once you really experience these 8 hours parties, you always think it was worth it.

Thomas: the coolest thing is that everything is to be created, everything is possible! And the hardest thing is to convince someone who has experienced a pretty lousy online party (as we see a lot of them), and convince them that these are different and that they are REAL parties.

Thanks to Jessica and Thomas for their time! To participate in the online Burn’s SparkleVerse, it’s here. To learn more about the collective, it’s here on their facebook page or on their website!