By Jacey Whirley
Listening to a lecture on archeology isn’t what most people would pair with a beer. Unless, of course, you are a nerd. The RecRoom on Broad Ave is exactly where this upbeat and welcoming atmosphere is found. Held once a month in Memphis, NerdNite, is an event well known around the country, but a new trend upon Memphians. NerdNite is defined as a fun night filled with brains and beer.
Dr. Stephanie Madden, a Journalism and Strategic Media professor at the University of Memphis, first learned about NerdNite while finishing graduate school in Washington D.C. “It is designed for people who are passionate about certain topics to speak and teach the audience new and interesting information,” she says as she laughs, then follows by saying “I consider myself a nerd as far as the fact that I love knowledge.”
“When I moved to Memphis I noticed that they didn’t have one and it hadn’t gotten here yet. So, I am a go-getter and just decided to start it myself,” states Dr, Madden the host of NerdNite Memphis. NerdNite is a night set aside for those who particularly identify as nerds. There are currently 90 chapters in the United States. It is a night to bring together a community in Memphis that has not previously had an outspoken platform to stand on. NerdNite as described by guest speaker on architectural styles, moods, and characters of Memphis, Andy Torres, says it is “bringing Memphians together by playing on things that may seem not cool, and make them feel accepted.” Hosting the event at RecRoom has given me the opportunity to reach an even broader range of people, by using their Facebook followers” says Dr. Madden. Choose901 has also been a large contributor to the success of NerdNite thus far.
The first NerdNite Memphis was held just last month as one of the guest speakers was Dr. Madden’s husband. While preparing for her first night, and not knowing what to expect since a near 600 Facebook friends showed interest in the event, “I made my husband speak because I can trust him” she stated showing the confidence she had in him. Later, it was admitted that he has been a guest speaker for NerdNite once more. His talk consisted of the heroic teacher myth and education policy. Laughing again, Dr. Madden says, “He is a very entertaining speaker, I promise it is not as boring as it sounds.”
“I like learning random facts about things I never knew about, you never know when they will come in handy,” says Dr. Janoske, a close friend supporting Dr. Madden, and also a professor at the University of Memphis. “I think the concept of NerdNite allows people to come in with the idea that they will hear about something unique and the topics they talk about are very inclusive allowing everyone to have a sense of involvement,” expresses Kevin Edwards, a graduate student at the University of Memphis.
As for growth Dr. Madden says, “I imagine growth but I am honestly still surprised at the first nights outcome. But, with Choose901 helping promoting the event through their Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, expectations are high.”