|Ashra and Kiee circa 2007|
A Woman’s Touch is twelve years old! I challenge any of you to show me five places in Second Life that have been in continuous operation for twelve years, not counting places run by Linden Labs. Twelve years is unprecedented and amazing. AWT has had a long and rather interesting history covering what could be called four generations of a Woman’s Touch in Second Life. We will take a look at all four but first, what if I were to tell you that AWT is really more like fourteen years old? AWT existed for a couple of years prior to coming to SL. We will therefore start our history in these early, pre SL years, which I will call “Generation Zero.”
|AWT banner from the Sims Online|
AWT has been on Second Life for twelve years but it didn’t start here. It originally started on the Sims Online (TSO). This online community was quite primitive when compared with Second Life, but at the heart were women chatting, visiting and becoming friends. There were many of the same problems we see in SL still today, like men harassing women or just being plain annoying, always trawling for dates. Women could go to lesbian clubs in the Sims Online but those often had more of a negative attitude towards men than a positive one towards women, and often they were rather political. AWT offered an alternative. It was a place where women could relax and just be themselves together. AWT soon became one of the most popular places in the Sims Online.
|The Sims Online HUD|
Ashra and Kiee were together as a couple and were cyber married in the old TOS platform. In fact, weddings have always been a big part of AWT up to this day and they started in the Sims Online as can be seen by this early screen capture. (see below) Here, Ashra is performing a wedding before AWT existed in SL.
|Early AWT Wedding on TSO|
So Ashra and Kiee, along with daughter Pebbles, were a family unit in the old TSO platform. Pebbles tried out this new thing called Second Life and got Kiee to join her there one day in the summer of 2006. Soon they were telling Ashra all about it and talked her reluctantly into trying it out. Soon, Ashra was securing a parcel of land in SL on the mainland and AWT proceeded to move its operation to the new and more versatile platform.
|AWT Generation One|
The parcel was only about 1/8 the size of the current AWT or about the size of a quarter sim. It wasn’t big by our standards today but it was a start. It was also on the mainland so we had neighbors adjoining us. Eventually, AWT was up and running in Second Life. It attracted many women early on and soon there were DJ events, contests and much more but it never moved away from its original concept, a place where women could relax and just be themselves together.
|AWT Manager, Kamille, enjoys the dance floor|
The place continually evolved but it was clear that in order to continue to grow that a new location would be necessary. SL offered single regions as private islands and AWT could finally get the access control to better meet its needs. People who chose to harass residents could now be banned not only from the parcel, they could not even get close to the region. Ashra opened her pocketbook and the deal was struck with Linden Labs in August of 2008, around the time of our second Anniversary in SL.
|AWT Generation Two|
With the new private island, came a new group to control the functions on that land. The original group was simply called “A Woman’s Touch.” Now we had “A Woman’s Touch Islands.”
There was always a dance floor at AWT but in these early days the campfire area was a close rival, as many of the women preferred to congregate there. We even had a tag for those girls, “AWT Campfire Girl.” I know, for those of us over a certain age, we want to sing, “Sing around the campfire; join the Campfire Girls.”
AWT began to grow on our new private island and took on a tropical theme almost immediately. Our very first dance floor was glass and extended from the beach over the water, as is shown in the picture above from the Halloween Party in 2008.
In March of 2009, a second adjacent sim was added to AWT. The first sim had been named “A Woman’s Touch,” but a separate name was needed for the second sim. It was Kiee that named it “Park Place.” This new sim would be primarily residential and women could rent a place of their own at AWT, with the same restrictions on men.
|DJ Sue spins tunes on the dance floor|
AWT had other attractions in these early days. One was the shopping mall, which used to be closer to the middle of the sim. Another was the volcano, which was one of the most prominent features of the island. There was a secret entrance at the base, if you knew where to find it, and you could enter a secluded little private nook within the mountain.
The glass dance floor didn’t last very long and it was soon replaced by a wooden deck that started on the beach but extended out over the water in the same location. This version of the club can be seen clearly in the “Generation Two” picture at the top of this section and in the Halloween 2009 picture above. This was the club through most of Generation Two and occupied the area where the western end of the current mall is near the sea. That is where to club dancefloor extended out over the water.
|AWT Generation Three|
Up until now, each generation has been defined by moving AWT to a new location. After it was set up, it evolved over time to its basic final form. This was not true of Generation Three. AWT and Park Place remained where they were and it was a complete revamp of the “A Woman’s Touch” sim that defined it. It is also different in that it took only a few weeks for it to reach its basic final form. This remake was completed over Labor Day weekend in September of 2010.
You can see from the “Generation Three” picture above that there is now a lot of black, white and fuchsia (hot pink) taking up a lot of the middle of the sim. This ultra-modern look was actually in style in SL back in 2010. The club can be identified by the large fuchsia canopy over the dance floor towards the left of the picture, which is actually the same canopy from Generation Two, just repainted. The rest towards the center was the new, improved, and extended mall. Now that the mall overtook the area that the club had occupied, it became necessary to move the club to its new location. This meant that the volcano had to go.
Another thing happened that first week in September 2010. Ashra hired a fourth and final manager for AWT management team. In the intervening eight years managers have left but no others have been hired. In those days, Bee Bee Brouwer was the Master Builder and was responsible for creating the facilities and terraforming. It was her that created the new club and mall. Harley Shippe was in charge of the club and DJ’s. Feliciana Zabaleta (Maya Shadowhawk) was the General Manager.
Back in that time, many sims in second life had big issues with lag and AWT was not an exception. Those of us, who remember those days, remember having to remove our hair (and sometimes other items of clothing) in order to teleport onto the sim. After we arrived we could put our hair back on. Ashra hired Susan Mowadeng to be the manager in charge of sim resources. She oversaw things like prim counts (now land impact), scripts and server times. It was Sue’s job to tackle the lag issues. Things greatly improved over the next few weeks and Sue became the fourth manager on the team.
It was about this time that AWT began being recognized in the SL Surfing Community as a destination with great waves and a wonderful surfing experience. It was not unusual to find big female names in the SL surfing world, surfing at AWT.
As things were changing on the main sim, they were changing on Park Place too. As Generation Two came to an end, Park Place was already the primary residential place for AWT, though there were rentals on the main sim too. The only public place to congregate on Park Place was a coffee house but it went out of business and closed about the time Generation Three started.
In 2011, Sue Mowadeng opened up Mowadeng’s Ranch on top of the mountain top on Park Place and there was once again a public gathering place on that sim. Soon, we moved our Monday afternoon DJ shows to the Ranch. In those early days, as you can see from the picture below, there was no saloon and the dances were held out in the open.
|Line dancing at the ranch|
In 2012, the Saloon was added and named the “Midnight Cowgirl Saloon,” which referenced both the vampire nature of the owner and the horses with which the ranch was associated. In fact, the entire mountaintop facility was renamed the “Midnight Cowgirl Ranch.” This also gave a home to the Queen B’s Motorcycle Club, which started using it as a hangout. It was official; the Midnight Cowgirl was the only Country Western Lesbian Vampire Biker Bar in Second Life!
The Queen B’s MC was founded in November of 2010 at AWT by Robyn Barineaux (Mom), Lanie Camino (Big Sis) and Susan Mowadeng (Dirtnap). The club has hosted group rides in the past and still has members active in SL.
The ranch also began to focus on trail rides and a bridle path was put in in 2012. Now you could ride a horse from the ranch to anyplace in AWT.
The Third Generation lasted six years, which today is still half of our existence in SL and equals Generations One, Two and Four combined. As the years went by, managers would leave. When Harley Shippe left, Maya took over managing the club. When Bee left, Sue took over building and terraforming. Generation three came to an end with Ashra, the owner, and her two managers, Maya and Sue, running the place.
|AWT Generation Four|
Generation Four was a gradual transition over about 18 months. I will start it here in my story when the first of these major changes took place. The black, white and fuchsia club had become dated after six years and begged to be replaced. Sue put in the current club in November of 2016 and made it look more like the tropical paradise that AWT was originally intended to be. This made the old mall look even more outdated and needing of an upgrade. Sue set her sights on designing one that fit the footprint and also matched the new club seamlessly. There was also the added complication of dealing with all of the shop renters. Finally, in November 2017, one year after the club’s completion, the new mall was open and renters started to fill it.
2018 saw the pool area being redone so it now seamlessly matched the club. Off sim scenery was also added and both sims had upgrades in the area of housing. So, from November of 2016 to the spring of 2018 saw the transition to Generation Four of AWT, our current generation. One other major event happened early in 2018 that defines the transition from one generation to the next. Maya left as a manager and Ashra made Sue a co-owner of AWT. AWT is now run by two owners without any managers.
In April 2018, Surf Watch Magazine did an article on AWT, once again reaffirming our reputation as a great surfing destination.
|Saturday morning as the sun rises over Woodstock at AWT|
In August of 2018, AWT once again had Woodstock. A number of years earlier, at the Generation Three club, we would recreate the concert in the club. Large pictures of the real life event in 1969 would surround the dance floor. Sue would play over 20 hours of the original concert that she had recordings for. In 2017, we had the first Woodstock with the new club setup, which allowed for easy setup and tear down. A larger Woodstock experience was created but it wasn’t until this year it was completed and perfected. This year, with the Generation Four club, we created the ultimate Woodstock experience.
The AWT Anniversary
So when is our anniversary? We have historically celebrated it either in August or September but never on an exact day. I think that is because there was never a single, one day, grand opening. It was probably a process of phasing out the old Sims Online as AWT was made up and running in SL. People needed to create accounts and move over to Second Life. It was a process begun in early August of 2006 and finished sometime in September. In recent years, we seem to opt for the September celebration more to separate it from Woodstock in August but don’t forget that we were here in some form in August of 2006.
|AWT's Fourth Anniversary in our brand new Generation Two Club|
|Destiny Mowadeng enjoys AWT's Sixth Anniversary|
|Poster advertising AWT's Ninth Anniversary|
It has been an amazing 12 years and a lot has happened and much has changed. There are many new faces but there are still plenty of the old ones too. However, at our core we have not changed. We are still a place where women can relax and just be themselves together while chatting, visiting and making friends. We are looking forward to the next, amazing twelve years!