The Butterfly Effect of A Night Out

Can a pay-it-forward campaign to support free nights out unleash a chain reaction of kindness and save London’s nightlife? Help us keep fun free – because joy sustains the appetite for change, and nurtures us through hard times.

In the chaos that is today’s world, and the constant onslaught of jolt- or groan-inducing news, there is an order to be found in human kindness. Come again? Well, studies show that kindness is contagious and causes a ripple effect of imitation among those who observe these acts.

Normally we rail against conformity — but this is the good kind that we want to see more of. Before we get into how you too can be part of this kindness pandemic with our pay-it-forward campaign, let’s look at other instances of how kindness changed the world, person by person, heart by heart.

5 heart-blowing instances of kindness that HAD A ripple effect

  • A yiayia (grandma) in Australia fed the brothers next door after their father murdered their mother. They were so moved by her daily sharing of meals over the fence, they decided to share Yiayia’s kindness on Instagram. The IG account quickly racked up over 70,000 followers, and an outpouring of support and solidarity — which inspired them to set up a domestic violence social enterprise in tribute to their mother.

“Kindness is one of those things you should give off all the time, because when you’re down it will come back your way and pick you up.”

  • Princess Diana arguably changed the world with a single handshake. The simple act of shaking hands with a man who was HIV positive, without gloves, at a time when AIDS was a full blown epidemic — helped dissolve the stigma surrounding the virus. It catalysed a much needed change in perception among the general public that there was nothing to fear by touching another human who had AIDS.
  • Balcony serenades became a thing at the height of COVID lockdowns as people comforted each other that they were together, despite being apart. Videos went viral and the kind gesture spread across the country in a much needed show of solidarity in a time of great fear and uncertainty.
  • A woman named Caitlin Boyle decided to transform the way she sees her body by spreading positive affirmations for herself (and others) in public places. She started posting anonymous post-it notes with encouraging phrases such as ‘you are beautiful’ and ‘you can do it’. It snowballed, with others picking up on this and sharing similar notes all over the world. It resulted in a project starting, called Operation Beautiful, that inspires humans to feel better about themselves and pass the positivity onto others.
  • A cyclist got trapped under a London bus in May 2015. But people didn’t wait for emergency services. They rushed to help. Seeing their fellow citizens struggling to shift the double decker bus, more and more people came to their aid. In the end, 100 Londoners managed to move the bus and save the cyclist from being crushed in an incredible show of the power of solidarity and kindness.

Music and art for all during the cost of living crisis

Whether due to Brexit or the war in Ukraine, the cost of living and energy prices are hurting everyone from the average event-goer, to the artists, and venue owners. At What Does Not, we want to make sure no person has to cut back on fun and belonging, venues can stay afloat with exciting programming, and emerging artists can keep London music and club culture, vibrant.

It’s a tough time to be an artist. They’re feeling the pressure to take ‘a real job’ as Brexit made it harder for them to tour the EU and make a name for themselves, and Arts Council funding is greatly reduced. While venues have seen electricity costs increase by staggering amounts. Take Dalston Superstore as an example, a multipurpose queer venue in Hackney, east London. They’ve seen bills go up by over 300%, jumping from £14,000 per year to £65,000 per year.

But why should music and art matter in a time when people are struggling with utility bills and hikes in food prices?

“Joy, collected over time, fuels resilience — ensuring we’ll have reservoirs of emotional strength when hard things do happen.”

Music can be a social equaliser, “The activity of being together in music can offer profound experience,” says Professor Jane Davidson, Head of Performing Arts in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne.

“In part, it has to do with synchronising as one, being in a shared emotional experience and being in close proximity with others,” she says. “Being in a communal space provides opportunities to know one another better and to remove possible barriers. Looking at research from over the years, people can make music together without having to talk, and at the end of it, they feel closer.”

And as we’ve seen, humans truly are stronger together when crisis strikes. So if you’re in a position to help someone without means, this is your chance to do it. We want to make our ticketed nights free for people from an underprivileged background, so that people don’t have to cut back on fun throughout the cost of living crisis. And help venues that are feeling the squeeze by continuing to fill them.

Putting our money where our mouth is

We’re writing this on Global Pay-It-Forward Day. If you didn’t already know, the concept of pay it forward is this: when someone does something for you, instead of paying that person back directly, you pass it on to another. It creates ripple effects of kindness, like the 378 Starbucks customers who paid their cup of coffee forward in one day. Or the pizza restaurant in Philadelphia, Wartman’s pizza, that allows customers to donate an extra dollar to provide a free slice to the homeless.

We’re hoping for a similar ripple effect. So, we’re launching a new pay-it-forward scheme for all our paid events that offers free tickets to those who might not ordinarily attend events due to financial constraints.

We’re NOT a registered charity (yet), or a CIC, or an organization that gets any sort of tax relief. But we ARE the first independent brand / agency / whatever you wanna call us that has launched a Pay-it-forward campaign with DICE — and it’s tiered too, so you can contribute what you want.

The idea we’re betting on with our pay it forward ticketing initiative is this: that a small, seemingly trivial act like contributing to a pot of money for those who can’t afford to go out, may ultimately result in something with much larger consequences. Time will tell what that will be.

The immediate impact we’re hoping for is that no person has to cut back on fun and belonging, venues can stay afloat with exciting programming, and emerging artists can keep London music and club culture, vibrant.

How it works

Individuals who are financially able to do so can donate money to help cover the cost of a night out for someone who is struggling financially. So when you go to DICE to purchase tickets for our emerging music nights on May 26, you’ll see 3 ticketing tiers for £3, £6, and £12, in addition to the General Admission.

These allow you to purchase ‘tickets’ for pay it forward purposes. The money from these tiers goes into a pool of money. The money gets tallied up closer to the event, and we figure out how many tickets that equates to. We then offer those tickets to artists, musicians, and anyone that needs them.

If you’re someone who’s struggling and could benefit from some fun, contact the team at [email protected] or visit the Pay-it-forward page.

As What Does Not’s founder, Christine says, “We want to tear down all barriers that stand in the way of culture, connection and opportunity.” And there are many ways we’re doing that. Through stories, discussion, and What Does Not’s music series, the NOISE: a curated, emerging talent series that launched at the Outernet in Soho on February 3rd. And is designed to maintain London as the breeding ground for amazing music, while bridging the subculture niches of the city. It’s a much-needed grassroots initiative for British culture, in a time when gentrification makes it hard for music culture to flourish in central London.

We hope other promoters will join us in this initiative. Pay-it-forward nights out can create connection and purpose, by giving an easy outlet for making a difference. And can help those struggling know they’re not alone, providing hope and optimism when things look bleak.

If there’s anything the recent crisis taught us, with its songs flowing from balconies, and Thursday evening clapping for carers, is that joy and fun are a key part of creating resilient communities and sustaining our appetite for change in tough times. So we hope you’ll chip in if you’re in a position to.

“Optimism is our instinct to inhale while suffocating. Our need to declare what needs to be in the face of what is. Optimism is not uncool; it is rebellious and daring and vital.”

Our next What Does Not NOISE is on May 26th, and will feature the most talented musicians from across London in a curated jam. Something unheard of in central Zone 1. 

Book tickets or Pay it Forward
26.05.23 @ The Lower Third