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Speed Listening: The Inside Scoop

For the past few months we’ve given you word (in fact, we’ve given you loads of words) about The Note Well ‘s monthly Speed Listening event – but we’ve always left you hanging what the event is really about. Is it a quirky dating event? A cult? Something incomprehensible but quite cool? We have our community manager’s personal review on a plate for your consideration, edification and amusement. Read on!

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Most of my friends didn’t make it to Speed Listening. To be real honest, none of them did. `Speed Listening sounds like a great idea`, they said, `but I’m in a relationship. Married. Engaged. Pregnant with lizards. Viral and combusting.` Even one reason should be enough, I said. They wanted to be sure, they replied. `Dating with iPods is so weird it’s not even Japanese`, they kept repeating. `It’s not about dating`, I insisted, `this is weirdly, entirely, completely about music.`

`Meh`, was all they said.

Still I was sure I was right. So I went there, in the tundra cold, with an uncharged music player, armed with a fairly unconventional assortment of dancey industrial and nineties leftfield techno.

I came out grinning, mad monkey on crack and all. It was like in high school, music freaks finally finding their tribe.

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You see, Speed Listening appears to be a very incomprehensible and chaotic event if you haven’t been there yet. It doesn’t really have a beginning. Nor a climax. Much like the YouTube parties that you just happen to end up in and have no recollection of how they started.

Speed Listening has its own rules, though. Two groups of people, holding on to their music players (iPods, tablets, gramophones) and headphones (beers, cocktails, vodka shots) change their seats every eight minutes, showing a complete stranger the playlist they prepared for that night. The basic idea is to show, and be shown, great tunes, hopefully walking away with great recommendations.

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So it begins.

Round One, Stranger One. Politely circling each other for the seven or eight minutes of allotted time, asking each other with the politically correct mannerisms whether you are completely bored to death by each other’s tracks, carefully giving your partner 60-90 seconds for good previews, trying to cram in all songs from the playlist.

It all breaks after the first person as you exploit the underlying structure of the game. It’s not the playlist that gives a vague similarity to the personality, any personality, it’s the music player and its hidden little gems. You don’t really care about the songs others want to show about themselves. You’ll go `give me all the strange weird f*cked up tracks that you like but you think nobody else would`. And then they open up to you. And it’s wonderful. `Are you sure you would be interested in 16th century choir works? Or bebop? Or the latest evil Noisia mashups?`

Of course. I think that’s the greatest stuff in the world.

They like it. Confidence makes them brave. And experimental.

That’s where it gets real fun.

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This is something very, very much out of dating’s reach, one of the rare moments when you momentarily allow the overlap of your infospheres, bubbles of preference, personal space, however you call it – and you let others in for a very entertaining, yet very intimate spell of time. `I’m not sure about about this`, says my first partner, shunning, `I thought you wouldn’t like this.`

`Girl`, I tell her, `this is you. The music you bring to the table is you, you mustn’t feel bad about yourself because you are the way you are. Wear this with pride. Others might not like it or react to it or resonate to it, but it doesn’t mean that your music taste would be bad by any standards. And if anyone would state otherwise, f*cking set them on fire.`

She smiles.

That sentiment is shared across all the tables, smiles and drinks. THAT is Speed Listening.

(Speed Listening events take place on every third Thursday of each month. Follow The Note Well on Facebook for notifications about great things.)

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