Community-Building with IRL Analog Shindigs

One decade? Two decades? All your life? Certainly it’s been a fair wee while since humans started snuggling their noses into glowing screens, addicted to a steady stream of cotton candy content. But there is no doubt that we are just as hungry for analog time spent together. We delight in meaningful IRL interactions leaving them touched and our hearts more full. In this age of uncertainty and wobbliness in the world around us, one thing I am sure of as a frequent host is that humans undoubtably are not going to stop craving being around each other. We need it, we want it and we seek it out. (see Why Salon-ing is Essential for Your Good Health).

Add a thought-provoking idea or topic into the mix, a friend who is a musician, a dimly lit room, whiffs of delicious food, some cushions on the floor and a whole lot of good vibes and open-heartedness, and you’ve got the makings of a salon, the ultimate community builder. AKA a rave for the intellect. Or simply, an imperfect, slightly messy dinner party that’s more about listening and conversations and a whole lot less about twee place settings.

Below are a handful of reasons we believe this moment in time is ripe for the Salon Movement to take shape, beginning with you, your friends and your community. We are on a mission to re-establish human connection, you know – the true purpose and greatest joy of being alive, one IRL interaction at a time. Here’s why right now is the perfect time to take up the cause.


Many people were starved for meaningful human connection long before the pandemic began. And then the pandemic came, blowing in with a torrent of terrifying stories and stats in the media. And it didn’t leave. It settled in, seeping into our psyche, leaving many of us tired and worn out, questioning our values and life choices. And perhaps feeling a little lonely in our heads whether we’re in a relationship or not. In the awful years we spent away from each other, the world changed to a much less stable place. Conscious and cheery gatherings focused around a topic or an idea or perhaps a music-only gathering is big medicine for a social species indelibly fractured by the scars of forced separation from itself.

Kezia Gill performs at a London salon

2. LESS SHOUTING in the digital world and more talking to each other IRL makes the world a much better place. 
Whether or not you sat through The Social Dilemma long enough to learn how mankind recently evolved to channel emotions by shouting into the digital realm, we’ve been living with the ramifications of this phenomenon for some time now. Looking into the eyes of another while actively listening to them, perhaps discussing a viewpoint that may differ from our own, may help rewire some of the tech-frazzled circuitry of human relating one authentic, IRL interaction at a time.

3. Face to Face Conversation: Who isn’t hankering for some good, lock-eyes-on-you in-person convo after the last couple of years? 

To have a sense of belonging within the world, within our community, equates to happiness and a sense of fullness. Face-to-face interaction, especially after time apart, is what community is functionally. Reconnecting in person with our loved ones, looking into their eyes and truly hearing them, is a huge boost of loving energy that grounds us in our communities again.

And we could all do with meeting new people, awakening ourselves to fresh ideas and differing points of views and backgrounds unlike our own; this is what makes us more nuanced, open and reasonable.. When was the last time you made a new relationship? For some, you’ll say, oh I make them all the time. But many don’t. Remember what it feels like to find yourself in the most revelatory conversation with a stranger? It’s thrilling! Your body starts to hum at a different level, electric, excited by the conversation. Salons are a centuries-old way to back-burner small talk and get straight to juicier discussions with new people, and as host you’ll have selected an alchemic group of guests with plenty to talk about. Fresh energy and perspectives refresh old connections as well as creating new ones, so try inviting in a few new faces to make your guest list more potent.

4. Conversation: Listen and learn. Listen and learn. Listen and learn. 

Active listening drives far more interesting discussion than individuals competing for the proverbial talking stick. We know we have two ears and one mouth for a reason, but it can be hard to listen more than we speak sometimes living with egos constantly espousing a need to be right. A shared commitment to active listening means spirited conversations and even debates can happen respectfully in the container of a well-facilitated salon. Encourage your guests to jot down questions or comments for later so as not to interrupt the natural flow of the person or people speaking. 

And there’s so much to learn, you can browse topics to get some curation inspiration, Salonistas – happy hosting!

Molly Hankins contributed to this article.