ASMR Happens: Part 2
This is the second 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 Theatre which has a rich tradition of showcasing the work of women, people of color, youth, LGBTQIA, and other underrepresented voices.
She’s taller than I thought. After traveling almost a thousand miles, that was the first thing that crossed my mind as Emma took the stage. Quickly followed by an admiration of her leopard print heels, and her signature cascade of red hair. I giggled internally at the banality of my initial reaction, as Emma sat down and began softly speaking into the 3Dio microphone in front of her. A wave of applause traveled through the theatre, and I joined in as I fought not to be overwhelmed by emotion. Joy, excitement, anticipation, and a sense of community all flooded through me, filling my heart to bursting and igniting my mind. I looked at those around me and saw the same emotions reflected back. We were here, and she was here. Together we were greater than the sum of our parts, and we were going to make ASMR happen. It was going to be an epic evening.
The house lights dimmed, flowing graphics illuminated the large screen behind her, and she began to read us a story written by a friend. I adjusted the volume on my headphones as Emma’s soft voice filled my ears. The familiar warm tingly feeling begin to spread up my back all the way to my scalp. I felt my entire body relax into the cushioned theatre seat and my breathing regulate. She took us on a journey through a small English village, using environmental sound effects and soft graphics to enhance the experience. It felt like a guided meditation, and it was wonderful. I wanted to close my eyes, like I do most nights when Emma’s voice soothes me to sleep, but I resisted the urge because I didn’t want to miss a moment of the live performance. She slowly brought us out of the village, and we all took a minute to recenter.
Emma then introduced a special guest, her cousin Nicole, whom many of us knew from past videos. Excited murmurs traveled through the crowd because we all knew what was coming next - hair brushing. This happens to be a strong trigger for me personally, both the sound of it and the visuals of it. Many people that evening had been discussing their first ASMR experience, the first time they felt the tingles. I can remember mine vividly.
I had very long hair as a child, and one of the morning rituals in our household was for my mother to brush and braid my hair. I remember the feel of the brush softly tugging on my hair and massaging my scalp, the feel of my mother’s hands in my hair, the warm scent of her perfume. Sometimes she would hum under her breath or speak softly to me, planning out our activities for the day or what she was going to cook for our meals. It was a special time, when I had my mother all to myself. I remember how relaxed I always felt, which was not a normal state of being for me at that age, and the warm tingle that would spread over my scalp and down my spine. I never wanted those mornings to end. As I got older, I actively sought out people to brush my hair. It became a special treat I would get from one of my aunts when I visited her. Soon enough though, I was deemed too old for other women in my family to groom me and my requests for this type of personal attention were refused. Eventually, I discovered that I could recreate this experience, to a degree, at a hair salon. This is still an indulgence I allow myself a couple times a year, a professional cut and style with all the extras. I always feel those warm tingles and I always leave in a state of relaxed bliss.
All of those memories came flooding back to me as I watched Nicole cross the stage and take a seat in front of Emma. Soon, the familiar sounds filled my ears and I once again marvelled at their similarity to ocean waves. After awhile, Emma invited another ASMRtist up on stage to accompany her. SelinaDeVestige took over brushing Nicole’s hair and began whispering to us in her beautiful contralto. Emma retook her seat in front of the 3Dio and methodically laid out the props for an ear cleaning session. Soft cotton pads and fluffy Q-Tips all lined up in a neat row. The sounds of Emma cleaning and caressing our ears mingled with Selina’s lovely whispers and the soft whoosh of hair brushing. It was a gorgeous symphony that set my back alight with tingles. I finally closed my eyes and just let the sounds wash over me in wave after wave. All too soon it was over, and Emma was thanking us for being there. Time had passed in the blink of an eye, and no one was ready for it to be over yet. We all slowly came back to reality as the house lights brightened. People began gathering their things, softly talking with their companions and seat mates, as we all started to make our way to the lobby. Emma had promised to join us there shortly, and I was excited for the opportunity to discuss my experience with other attendees.
Stay tuned for more on this amazing event!