Amidst the hard pause of our lives in 2020 I had a simple but revelatory realization: most of my day-today life was a series of experiences curated by others. The elements and flow of my work routine, exercise routine and social life were activities largely chosen by third parties. Even if I selected the job, work-out or party, it’s as if once that selection was made I was along for the ride instead of assuming a role as co-creator of the experience. Work meetings occurred at X time and followed a Y format, if I could just make myself get to an aerobics class all I’d have to do is follow along, a (hopefully) trustworthy DJ selected the soundtrack at the club each evening. And I, as the passive consumer, would sit around hoping it was all worth my time and/or money in the end, because that was the extent of my contribution to most of my life experiences.

And then, Covid – once everyone’s routine was affected, once there were no more pre-fab experiences you could just pay for like you used to, it really begged the question, “How have we been spending our time really?” Mine I realized, was mostly spent questing after increasingly novel pre-fab experiences, both IRL and URL. Whether I was scrolling for another dopamine hit from a prolific meme or searching for the next concert/vacation/adventure, it all seemed to be coming from a place of ravenous consumption. And I was insatiable!

But once everything was canceled by April 2020, I knew if I wanted to keep my community close through this I was going to have to be the one to figure out ways to do that safely and enjoyably. Quarantine found me outdoors quite a bit, hiking, gardening, working with my hands, exploring new swimming holes, building campfires and reading aloud to a few close friends. These are all activities that might’ve sounded uneventful before, but turned out to be full of untapped magic and a deep sense of belonging. After 18 months I look back and vastly prefer the way I’ve been spending time, which is now much more on my terms. My friends and I can design an infinitely more delightful social experience than one we can just pay for, because it’s specifically suited to our taste. All the little details of curation become like love letters to your community, and there’s a new level of thrill that comes from your own curation translating to moments of individual delight.

Every detail of each salon is in some way a product of Susan’s imagination and personal history.

There’s really no way to know just how much fun and how fulfilling it could be unless you try, so what’s stopping you? For most of us it’s a fear of failure, whether it’s being afraid no one will show up, feeling generally anxious about socializing or overwhelmed by being responsible for hosting. The good news is a salon is a relatively low-stakes undertaking and, unless your friends are all total snobs (perhaps get new ones?), your community will be grateful you got them in the same room to hang out, share some laughs, and just be together. This website is packed full of tips about how to host affordably and effectively, but it also begs the question: what do you want to experience more of? Educational programming? Have an expert over and interview them mid-salon. Missing readings and live performances? Local poets and musicians would jump at the chance to perform for an excited group.

Once your hosting journey has begun, I think you’ll start to notice all the little decisions that go into curating an evening for your guests become their own art form, so buying new candles at the 99 Cent store or trying out a new recipe you want to serve for a group stops feeling like a chore. Instead they become another form of self-expression, and pretty soon you’ll behold the culmination of your curational choices and realize no one but you could have created an experience so uniquely suited to you and your community! At which point we recommend, you guessed it, hosting again! Here’s our playbook on how how-to host and be sure to check our salon community profiles for some inspiration on connections formed by being the salon host you wish to see in the world.