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The room is filled with an eclectic group of people, about 300, from all walks of life; artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, poets, you name it.

They've come together like a secret society, answering the call of Pecha Kucha, a somewhat irregular social/business occurrence that draws from and gives voice to Charleston's creative community, which is pretty amazing.

Adding to the allure of the event is the fact that nobody knows where it will be held until the day before. It lives in the world of social media, the latest evolution of word of mouth.

As the crowd grows, you become aware of the diversity gathering in the room. Young. Old. Artsy. Interesting. Familiar. Out there. Way out there. Famous. Almost famous.

Before the evening ends, eight people take the stage and speak their piece, promoting a business, presenting a point of view, or just making you laugh.

Creative energy

"Pecha Kucha is really about trying to connect all the great creative energy that's in this town," said Robert Prioleau, one of the founders. "It comes from architecture, from writers, from performing artists, and digital media people. It's about putting all these people in the same room once in a while."

The concept was started by architects in Tokyo years ago, Prioleau said. Pecha Kucha is Japanese for the sound of conversation. But nobody wanted to hear architects talk all night, so it was expanded, and limited.

Each presenter gets six minutes and 40 seconds, the time it takes to show 20 slides for 20 seconds each.

"This is a break-even organization," Prioleau said. "It's designed to give exposure to new people in the market. It's a simple idea that a lot of communities have adopted."

Didn't know that

Thursday night was the ninth Pecha Kucha in Charleston, and it was spiced with a variety of presentations.

Held at Gaillard Auditorium, it included an actor explaining how acting has rhythm and Zen, a photographer's look at brain surgery in Africa, a local beer brewer explaining the process, an artist talking about how something is nothing and vice versa, a PR maven introducing a non-profit fashion effort, an architect showing off cool buildings in the area, a ghost writer exposing who does the heavy lifting in literature, and a promotion for a local arts festival.

All cool, inside stuff that leaves you saying "I didn't know that was going on around here" a lot.

It's all designed to provide a signature experience, something unexpected. And, according to the organizers, the less organization the better when it comes to this event.

Best of all, when it's all over, it really isn't. And perhaps never is. Because the conversations will continue until the call goes out for the next Pecha Kucha.

Reach Ken Burger at or 937-5598 or follow him on Twitter at @Ken_Burger.