by Sita Writer
(note: please see the in-world magazine for more photographs)
Sweetheart – a gentle term of endearment or someone that you love to be around. “Sweethearts” venue, in Second Life®, is just that. The owners, Shannon and Blake, make you feel at home and cared about. You feel the same about their hospitality.
As a Sims veteran, Shannon learned about SL in 2009 from a television commercial and decided to give it a try. Having a blast, she encouraged Blake to join her a few days later, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Partnered since August 2009, Blake offers sage advice, “People give up too soon. They don’t always treat SL like real life and if they’re in a relationship, they should remember—always keep the romance alive.”
Shannon adds,“Blake takes me shopping for a dress once a week and no matter what it looks like he always loves it because I do. On a serious note, we use SL as a tool instead of a hindrance, for example, if there’s something that’s just too hard to say out loud, we’ll type it. It’s helped with a million things over the years, emotional obstacles, childhood trauma, the real feelings you just can’t seem to say. Always remember there’s a real person reading and feeling your words whether they’re on the other side of the house or the other side of the real world, and if you are in a relationship, it affects them, too.”
Shannon and Blake are the perfect owners for this venue because they genuinely care about what they do and about their guests. Often,they are mentors for many at Sweethearts, which is a central gathering place on the dating scene in SL, where many happy couples first meet.
“Keep dating!” Shannon voiced with sincerity. “Guys, go to the front door and ring it. Ladies, primp and prepare until that doorbell rings. Go out like it’s the first time. Clear your mind of work, the kids, the house, the car and concentrate on the ‘here and now.’ Guys, be ‘into her.’ There’s no one else in the room but her. Stare at her, kiss the back of her hand, dance with her, and tell her she’s stunning until she tells you to stop,” Shannon says with a smile.
Blake adds, “When she tells you to stop, call her ‘gorgeous’.”
Blake and Shannon worked at “Sweethearts” for three years prior to purchasing it. “One night in December of 2011, we threw around the idea of ‘what would you do if tomorrow Sweethearts was yours?’ We wanted to freshen the club up and bring a dynamic creativity to the build, to create a new style and feel while keeping some of ‘Sweethearts’ most beloved traditions,” Shannon describes. After acquiring the club, changes began in short order. “I’m most proud of the plaza—we went from 25 designers to 57. And the guests are so supportive. Our suggestion box gets at least five per week and I read every card. Some are small suggestions, others huge. Some nice, and some, not so nice. But we listen to what people want, and bring them what we can,” Shannon says.
Blake adds, “The region’s overall look is elegant and ‘Sweethearts Select’ is gorgeous…since my beloved Shannon built all of this,
I’m most proud of Shannon.” The designers in the plaza are by invitation only and Shannon and Blake look for those that compliment the venue. “Our favorites are the up-and-coming designers that need exposure; this brings something new for guests, and keeps the Plaza fresh.” Shannon said, “One complication of changing the build was to keep everyone happy—balance between what guests want and the exposure that the shop designers asked for. In general, guests want to see only the romantic aspects of the club and not the commercial. And, of course, designers want to sell. “Talk about nervous! I didn’t want to radically change what people were familiar with. It’s walking a tight rope between the designers and the guests so it is a trick I still work on mastering. When I build, Blake will play music for me and there will be times I scream at the screen when a prim reverts back to its original position three times. I have to build when traffic is lower or risk lag.
There was a time, I’d cry in real life because of self doubt…what if I build all this and no one likes it, or no one comes.” It seems people are happy with the re-designs of ‘Sweethearts,’ as 95% love the new look.”
Blake adds, “The new build is classy and ten times the ‘Sweethearts’ it used to be. A lot of sweat and tears went into the redesign. The hardest part was comforting Shannon, knowing the stress that building put her through.”
New to “Sweethearts” is the formal club called ‘Sweethearts Select.’ Shannon painstakingly built it because half of the guests wanted a full formal venue and the other half did not. This addition has ten events per month and is used for special events or by members anytime. It is so romantic that Lusch Audio named it the best place in SL to propose. “Select is on the verge of something awesome. Ideas there will blow our guests out of the water,” Shannon says, “We want to bring back a sense of class and style that SL hasn’t seen in years.” “Sweethearts” also gives back to the SL community and has had four charity events this year including RFL, Creations for Parkinson’s, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and The Alzheimer Dementia Association. “We love using Sweethearts as a platform to help causes that affect us all.”
“Sweethearts” strives to get better everyday. Using friendly real life hosts and hostesses from around the world and live DJ’s from time to time, the club is a uniquely and genuinely friendly venue where people, regulars and drops ins, new and old, come to dance, chat, laugh, cajole, and have fun. “One of our goals is to keep Sweethearts that friendly place they found when they were new. To know you’re accepted in a place is a great feeling. Making an impact on others is our continued mission. Our staff consists of real people, and they’re that genuine, they say and do things that make so much of an impact on people’s lives. We work on Christmas, and holidays when, for some, there’s no one to talk to but here in SL. We’re here for them, we truly are. We care and that’s a mission we keep striving to convey.”
As for the future, Blake and Shannon have big plans and many new surprises looming on the horizon. A new venue is planned, for example, that will tie in Le Coeur (the wedding business run by Blake and Shannon). They are also planning a new club to give them more space inside the ballroom and they reveal a new twist at the end of the summer. Star dancing, an updated ballroom, and a new “Ms. Sweethearts pageant” are all in the works.
If you have not dropped into “Sweethearts” lately, go check it out! You will know instantly that you are welcome and are never judged for who or what you are. Many have made lifelong friends at “Sweethearts” and have fallen in love…see you there!
For more information, please contact Netera Landar, Editor-in-Chief, neteralandar.gmail.com