I’ve been hosting salons for years, initially unintentionally and now very much on purpose. We all want to talk to each other a bit more in person analog-style: lock eyes on each other, feel human, live music, real conversations, awkward moments, stolen looks, warm food, simple cocktails, new faces and old friends. This is what comes together in the alchemy of a salon.
A salon is a gathering of friends and friends of friends most likely in your apartment or home. Mostly, a salon is good times with humans coming together for conversation and to eat, drink, talk and listen. Salons are a little sexy. Everyone makes a teensy bit of an effort. The lighting is dim. The smells are good. The vibe is warm. They were big in the 1700’s in Paris, again in the 1800’s and then once more in 1920’s. Now they’re back and I’m putting a modern twist on them, while inviting you to do the same.
And it’s a simple recipe anyone can pull off: Conversation + Connection + Community = Your Salon!
You choose a topic or theme you’d like to know more about and one that will appeal to folks from different worlds. For example, ‘Living Your Happiest Life’ or ‘The Power of Sleep’ – these are subjects that appeal to almost everyone in all corners of our country for an hour. Then you find someone who is an expert on the subject who lives locally (perhaps one of your friends or an author or a professor or a founder), and you invite them to come over so that you can ask them some questions about their work and life and the topic.
You could also host a music or poetry salon with your favorite artists where conversation derives from the immediately shared experience of performance. There are no rules in salon hosting, only an infinite number of fulfilling ways to bring focus and connection to your peer group. It’s so much more than a dinner party, even though it’s totally just a dinner party, so there’s no pressure.
Next up, you invite your friends to come over. These guests are from all backgrounds and all ages, working in every imaginable field. You, the host, serve them unfussy food and drink perhaps homemade but not necessarily. You keep it low stress. Then you throw out some questions fireside chat-style to your local expert or author so you can learn about their life and their points of view and their expertise. (We are all experts on something!)
There is no shortage of musicians who would love to make a few dollars on an evening, and it’s great to support the local musicians. Or maybe you scrap the conversation part and just have live music, then it’s a music salon! Or perhaps you simply gather your friends and a handful of you read out your all-time favorite poems, then it’s a poetry salon! Most importantly, you must do all of this with the minimum of fuss for the maximum amount of warmth and happiness.
I’ll give you all the how-to’s when it comes to hosting, from topic selection, to facilitating, to guest-list curation (aka interpersonal alchemy), to salon-ing on a budget. I know that if every person – starting with YOU – hosted a couple of imperfect, spirited gatherings with food and drink, warm conversation and live music throughout the year, we would change the world bit by bit in our communities. YOUR people and your people’s people, we will change the world by providing the setting for people to really listen to each other, and learn from, and ENJOY each other’s company. And we’ll have a whole lot of laughs along the way, that I promise you.
So let’s get started with our complete guide to Why and How to Host.