As I write, I am sitting in a Starbucks above the O2 Arena in Leicester. I am taking a break from watching the Rubik’s Cube UK Open 2012. In the Rubik’s Cube world, this is a big deal. Cubing fanatics have arrived from all over the UK and beyond to compete for a range of titles. There’s the classic 3X3 solve, 5X5, 2X2, and even a blindfolded solve. I’m here because my son is competing.
The attention to detail is immense. Huge scoreboards show the scores and believe it or not, it’s actually pretty exciting watching someone whizz through a solve in 7.8 seconds. There’s not just one or two competitors here either. The room is packed. It is limited to 100 places and they get booked out very quickly. I hadn’t been to a competition before, but this is my sons third.
I’ll be completely honest and say I wasn’t exactly enthused about getting up at 6am, driving 2 hours and then watching various Rubik’s Cube solves for eight hours. To be fair, it’s been surprisingly refreshing. Why?
-There are no generation barriers. There’s a girl here who is 8, averaging about a minute to solve a cube, through to men of about sixty. Because there’s no correlation between a person’s age and solve time, groups made up of young and old sit together, happily chatting.
-The atmosphere is very relaxed. Because everyone has a mutual interest, there is no need for awkward niceties. People don’t introduce themselves; they just get to the point, asking about the tension of the cube or discussing what their fastest time is.
-There’s no animosity. Although it’s a competition, everyone supports and encourages each other. I’ve only heard positive comments about people’s efforts, and if someone takes minutes to solve (rather than the average 30 seconds) no-one laughs, no-one stares; it’s just commended.
-There’s an overwhelming sense of acceptance. Discrimination by age, gender, class, race, fashion sense, ‘coolness’ or any other criteria has no place here. Everyone is equal and everyone is accepted.
Rubik’s Cubing may not be classed as ‘cool’ by some people, as evidenced by my son being called a nerd for it, but there is a lot that we can learn from an event like this. There aren’t many places where you can truly be yourself without feeling the need to ‘fit in’, where your appearance is of no significance and social expectations are irrelevant.
In my opinion, this is about as ‘cool’ as it gets.
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