A game that gives exactly what you need

I first heard about Social Muscle Club in an email from Shambala festival. I was going to the festival and the organisers of the Social Muscle Club game wanted to find table hosts. I was intrigued, it was billed as part game and part interactive theatre, sharing experiences, and activities, not stuff. Also facilitating the non-financial economy. Right up my street!

So how does it work?

  • Ideally a group of people who don’t know each other too well, but friends can work. A festival is perfect.
  • Split people into groups of 8-10, including a table host who will facilitate the proceedings for their table.
  • The table host gives everyone two slips of paper and a pencil.
  • Everyone (including the table host) writes down something they wish to receive and something they have to give. Plus their name and “receive” or “offer”. These do not have to be physical items, it’s better if they are not. They do not have to be things that will be given straight away, or at a defined point in the future either. They can be as big or small as you want. The host helps people if they are stuck.

Deciding what to write – photo credit Louise Roberts Shambala

  • The pieces of paper all go in a pot to be mixed up. Each person, in turn, picks out a piece of paper and reads the request, or offer, out loud. Anyone in the group including the table host can offer to give, or take, the “item”. But no one has to.

Pick 1 and let the magic happen – Photo Credit Louise Roberts Shambala

  • In my group at the Shambala event people asked for; festival fancy dress accessories, a house share in Brussels, help with a blog, contacts in the festival employment scene, a review on You Tube of a music track, an interactive theatre part.
  • People offered; tour of the festival site, guided hike near Bristol, knitting lesson, massage, weekend at their Airbnb in Leeds, language lessons, a tour of their home city.
  • When two people are matched a hand bell is rung and everyone cheers. It gets really exciting at this point as bells start being rung all over the room.
  • The participants swap details as appropriate.
  • When two people want / offer the same thing, the table host will decide how to sort it out! Paper, scissors stone was popular.
  • For anything not taken / given on a table, these are offered to the whole room at the end. The power of 100 people can be incredible.

Why it’s amazing

  • It’s great fun and a lively atmosphere of people sharing and helping each other.
  • You will meet some lovely people.
  • You might make some new friends.
  • You could find a new hobby.
  • You could find a new career.
  • You could end up with a unique experience in the future.
  • Literally anything can happen.
  • You just have to think big and put down what you really really want.
  • You just have to offer your skills / passion to the room and see what happens!

Where do they happen?

They currently take place in a number of European cities including Berlin and Bristol. Check out the website and Facebook group for updates and to sign up to the mailing list.

I want to run one ….

The Social Muscle Club Team are always happy to help people set up pop up events in their town, or at an event. They will give lots of support, advice and publicity.

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