This is the first blog post in a series about ASMR Happens, a live event which recently took place in San Francisco. The event was hosted by Whisperlodge, a group which operates an ASMR spa in New York City. The featured ASMRtist of the evening was Emma who performs under the name WhispersRed ASMR on YouTube. In addition, the ASMRtist SelinaDeVestige was present at the event, assisting attendees and performing in a dual trigger session with Emma. The event was intimate, limited to 230 people, and took place at the Brava Centre Theatre which has a rich tradition of showcasing the work of women, people of color, youth, LGBTQIA, and other underrepresented voices.
A girl dressed in all white approaches me and softly asks if I would like to have a personal session with her. I agree and she quietly ushers me into a dark corner of the theatre, the soft purple glow of the stage lights illuminating us. Her presence is calm, her moments slow and deliberate. She gently whispers an explanation of what is going to happen and reassures me I can stop the session at any time if I feel overwhelmed. I’m beginning to relax as she speaks, her soft cadence and breathy whispers washing over me. I choose to close my eyes as she takes the first object out of her bag. It’s a tuning fork on the lower end of the register. She taps it to begin and holds it up to my ear. I can feel the warmth of her hand hovering by my cheek, the low vibrations of the tuning fork echo in my ear as she begins to move it from side to side. That familiar feeling starts to wash over me. The warm tightness in my neck, shoulders and lower back. The tingles begin to run up and down my spine and I shiver slightly. She takes the next object out of her bag, whispers a description of it, then slowly moves it toward my ear. We continue like this, my eyes closed soaking in the sounds around me, back and neck alight, and her slowly whispering in conjunction with the sounds of the trigger objects she continues to pull from her bag. After a few minutes, which are all too brief, the session is over. She slowly leads me back to my seat, then moves on to find the next recipient of her comforting ministrations. I am left in a warm bubble of tingly afterglow, listening to the soft murmur of voices around me. Conversations about the wandering ASMR guides, about what YouTube channels people enjoy, about what objects or sounds trigger them, about where everyone traveled from to be here tonight, and most of all about Emma. The artist we are all here to see. Because ASMR does happen, it is a real phenomenon, and Emma is a master in the art of triggering it.
Another woman dressed in white takes the stage and quietly stands in front of a microphone. The warm murmur of the crowd quiets and all eyes are on her. She begins speaking softly, welcoming us and explaining what will happen that evening. Then she instructs us all to retrieve the small black velvet bags we were given when entering. I pull mine from my handbag, feeling the soft fabric under my fingers. I open it to find three small marbles and a little square of bubble wrap. The woman whispers that she will be the conductor and we are the orchestra. She then instructs us to palm the marbles and begins walking us through a group trigger experience. We follow her instructions and the theatre comes alive with the sound of marbles rubbing and clicking together, tissue and crepe paper rustling, and the crinkle and pop of bubble wrap. We alternate between slow and fast movements, soft and strong sounds. We are an orchestra of triggers, and the warm tingly feeling begins to move over me again. The woman whispers of self soothing, that we can trigger ourselves and our friends, bring relaxation and stress relief into our own lives. She speaks of empowerment gained from this act, the act of self soothing. Of how powerful we are together, in that room, acting as one. All too soon, our orchestra falls silent and I feel the warm feeling begin to recede. The woman pauses for a moment, allowing us to breathe and recenter, then she introduces Emma.
An excited anticipation runs through the crowd, people shuffle in their seats, whisper to their friends. The lights dim and Emma appears on a large screen just as she always does for us. Giving her signature intro and smiling warmly, she softly begins to speak and we all relax into the familiarity. A few moments later, the screen fades to black and Emma quietly takes the stage in person. The theatre is silent, no one wants to break the atmosphere of relaxed calm we have all fallen into. Emma says hi, giggles a bit, and everyone breaks. Applause washes through the room, warm laughter, and we are all suddenly in this together.
Stay tuned for more on this amazing event!