The Art of the 21st Century Salon
One of my favorite periods of history is the Age of Enlightenment. From it, sprung the idea of the 18thcentury salon, where the great minds of the time would gather to discuss topics from philosophy to literature.
As a writer, I often find myself drawn to like-minded creative people. The idea of getting together to share anything we’d recently been working on had been floating around with my friends and in our other respective circles for months, and it finally came to fruition.
I scoured various Pinterest boards in attempt to identify contemporary salon etiquette, but sufficient information was nowhere to be found. I’m here to offer suggestions based on a singular experience.
Here are some suggestions I have based on my recent experience:
Encourage people with an array of creative talents to attend. We had a mix of writers, visual artists, and musicians share with the group. I’ve always found inspiration in genres of art different from my own, whether it be theater, paintings, or fashion. This gives more people a chance to attend, expand their inspirational landscape, and make new friends. I had about 12 people over, and only knew five or so of them before that evening!
The ambiance can really make or break a salon. Mine took place during the early evening. I turned off all the lights in the living room except some fairy lights along one of the walls. It gave people a chance to focus on the person whose turn it was to share.
Food and Beverage
I got really excited to set up my own coffee bar. I put out sugar, stevia, half and half, and non-dairy coconut creamer, and set up mugs. It was an easy way to give people the option to customize their drink. We provided muffins, a cheese plate with crackers, and cookies. Things one would expect to find at a café.
We spent about 30 minutes mingling and waiting for people to arrive, and had a sign-up sheet near the door to establish the order of who would go when. People were encouraged to use 5-15 minutes of time.
A good friend of mine got the ball rolling with an essay and accompanying presentation on the history of shapes. It included phrases like “Trianguloid foodstuffs are now estimated to account for 8% of total global GDP.”I can’t confirm the factual validity, but I can tell you it was a fun and effective way to break the ice.
Don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself
When planning events, I have a tendency to avoid asking for help and sometimes struggle to accept help when it’s offered to me. Though it may initially seem like a noble act, trying to do everything yourself, I’ve found, will always come back to bite you. When someone offered to grab food for the salon, my initial reaction was to decline. Having found myself in similar situations before, and knowing I was already stressed, I figured them running to the store would save me a trip, and a subsequent amount of time and effort spent worrying.
At the end of the day, if you’re providing a forum people don’t normally get to express their talents. Enjoy it, and they will too.