New Salon NYC
posted November 4, 2015 11:07 PM   RSS | iCal | +googleCal

Wed November 18 at 7:30 PM, [pls. EMAIL for article & direx]
119 Macdougal St, New York, NY, USA (Map & Directions)
The first New Salon NYC meeting is now launched with a pithy new name and anticipated start date.
Please confirm that you can join us by emailing me some snippet about yourself so I have some idea who you are. Your name will then be added to a master list, and I'll send you back the article for the evening and directions to the meeting, as soon as everything is finalized. The email is:

I hope several, if not all, of the commenters in the proposed meet-up thread can be there. If you can't, please email me anyway if you'd like to be involved, or are friends with someone who would like to be involved.



[IMPORTANT NOTE: I have mapped the address to Caffe Reggio, which sounds like a great place to hold a salon or have coffee, but not only do I not live there, I haven't even visited it yet. The mods advised a dummy address because Metafilter demands one to confirm an event. Once you email to confirm attendance, I'll send on the actual address.]
FOR THOSE NEW TO THE THREAD: My original post follows below, so you have some idea what all this is about. Everything thereafter follows in chronological order. [I have a feeling I'm making this more complicated than it need be, but I've been a little baffled by the "proposed-to-confirmed-event transitional process," so please bear with me.]
Once upon a time in another city, I hosted a salon for about 3 years. It went swimmingly, and I'd like to revive it. If I started another one, would you be interested in attending?

The approach was simple. I had a list of about 15 or 20 people, and once a month, I'd send out some sort of short culture-vulture article (mefi postish, in fact), and then we'd all meet up in real life.

The idea was to have some shared bit of something to talk about that would jumpstart conversations you don't usually have, sometimes with people you don't usually talk to. Whether people actually talked about the article, or diverged from talking about it, or digressed from talking about it, or even hated it was irrelevant. The main point was having a common subject, a good drink, and a laid back atmosphere that encouraged good conversation.

For the whole thing to work, though, it was important to have a list of at least 15 people to draw from since sometimes only 5 or 6 people would show--and usually never the same 5 or 6. That is a great number for this sort of thing, at a minimum, but to guarantee at least that many, the master invite list needs to be triple that.

So the question is, How many NY-area Mefites would be up for this sort of thing, on a relatively repeat basis, for me to give it a whirl again?
posted by Violet Blue to Meetup (23 comments total)

sounds wonderful to me
posted by miss-lapin at 12:07 AM on November 5, 2015

"...some sort of short culture-vulture article..."
I don't understand what this means.
posted by unannihilated at 1:16 AM on November 5, 2015

I would definitely be in, but I think location/time dependencies are going to limit the audience...
posted by larthegreat at 5:05 AM on November 5, 2015

I tried this in a small town a few years ago - it failed (lack of interest) of the reasons I moved back to NYC! - and would totally be interested in doing this with some infrequency (as mentioned above, this is a wide net).

I've been to socrates cafe and "the dialectic" - both hosted on here in NYC. The organizers of these were (and are) heroic! It needed the patience of a saint because the participants all came with such different perspectives (fine)*, eloquence (also fine), worldviews (ditto), self-control (not so fine), limited analytical skills (ok....) and ability to hew to the topic at hand (the worst!).

I Strongly recommend reading Salons: The Joy of Conversation before setting this group up as it sets some nice frameworks and helps avoid pitfalls that others have advice would be to try and form a trusting core of people who are simpatico before hitting hot-button issues.

One of the few advantages of the heterogeneity of the group, IMHO was that while quite a few problematic things were said by participants, relatively** minor transgressions to do with privilege, -isms, etc did not completely derail the conversation into those topics, since there wasn't the appetite or ability in the group to do so. Spontaneously having a F2F conversation about privelege/isms in a group set up to talk about something else without serious moderation skills and background reading makes the giant online metatalks about these things look like a walk in the park.

** I say relatively, from a position of privilege. This is a given...

posted by lalochezia at 5:48 AM on November 5, 2015

I'd certainly be willing to give it a try!
posted by SansPoint at 6:11 AM on November 5, 2015

Yes. Sounds fun.
posted by Hactar at 6:32 AM on November 5, 2015

Totally in as long as it's entirely tailored to my schedule and every whim.

(no but yes I'd like to)
posted by Eideteker at 7:25 AM on November 5, 2015

Gosh this sounds like fun.
posted by Jonathan Harford at 7:47 AM on November 5, 2015

I would totally love to do this.
posted by holborne at 7:51 AM on November 5, 2015

I'd enjoy this! A friend of mine used to do a similar thing and it worked well.
posted by ferret branca at 8:43 AM on November 5, 2015

I'm interested in this!
posted by (Over) Thinking at 9:37 AM on November 5, 2015

I'm a lurker online, but love participating in conversations in person so I'm interested.
posted by scottdavidsanders at 11:27 AM on November 5, 2015

Also mostly a lurker, but I would do this!
posted by gold-in-green at 12:53 PM on November 5, 2015

I'd be a solid maybe on this one, depending on time/place/type of articles.
posted by Itaxpica at 4:06 PM on November 5, 2015

I'm all ready to discuss if this would even be a good idea!
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:34 PM on November 5, 2015

posted by durandal at 4:40 PM on November 5, 2015

Definitely interested if the timing works.
posted by islandeady at 7:01 PM on November 5, 2015

Yes, interested if the timing/location works!
posted by Ragini at 1:55 PM on November 6, 2015

You all have put a spring in my step!

Thanks for the quick responses and enthusiasm.

Since I know only a few of the respondents, and even them not well, it seems worthwhile to try to expedite the exchange of information to those with questions, or to lurkers who haven’t peeped yet. The results are way too long, but hopefully reasonably comprehensive….

Regarding some of the comments in the thread — I’m pretty skilled with group dynamics and salons, in particular. I’m also a darned good host, and I think of running a salon not as something I’m organizing or moderating, but as something I’m hosting. I try to introduce folks who have something in common, and leave them with something to talk about before wandering off. I make sure you have something to drink (alcohol or not), and room to speak if you’re shy, or not if you don’t feel like it. For sure, I don’t leave you in a corner by yourself feeling awkward if you don’t know anyone. Apropos derails in conversation, derails can be fine if they are interesting, but I do try to intervene where there may be offense (intentional or inadvertent) or an agenda that's not generally shared by the group.

I don’t necessarily start in on the article first. I’ve never had any introductory remarks. I think conversations of this short should be organic, not steered. I welcome digression if it’s interesting. If you haven’t had time to read the article, that’s okay, someone else will have…. In my past experience, these things sort of work themselves out.

Fun drinks are my preference if I have time—or just drinks if I don’t. There’s no food, cuz that sort of thing can overwhelm me. If someone wants to bring something, fine, but there’s no obligation ever; the same goes strongly for money or offerings of booze and whatnot. I don’t want to get into it.

Attendees can be 20 or 80, employed or unemployed, or in any other demographic category. I think this is the sort of thing that only really appeals to reflective types, reflective types tend to be civilized, and I do expect civility. In keeping with that, I expect RSVPs cuz I need a head count. That’s it.

I took over the choice of article in the early days when I realized that a more democratic process often begot articles of interest to the chooser … but not necessarily to everyone else. I read fairly widely, in the usual places: Slate, the Atlantic, Harpers, the New Yorker, etc. When I have more time, I read in less usual places. I’m looking for brief articles (that don’t overwhelm) with a focus on an idea.

I’ve noted articles recently that I’ve mulled over for this sort of thing: One was on redefining failure, which inevitably begets a discussion on definitions of success, both of which I find interesting. I’ve used Malcolm Gladwell and David Brooks articles before because, despite the shortcomings of both, they sometimes hit on ideas worth exploring. I’ve used TV and film reviews before, without expectation that people will have watched the shows. I remember one discussing how Larry David was always blowing up at people less powerful than he is--clerks, waiters--and what that said about American comedy and culture. Similarly, I recently saw a review of a reality show that kind of torments poor people … and another where everyone’s naked. These say interesting things about the culture, but what exactly, and does it matter? Also, how much does this spill into the culture at large, and outside of the TV universe?

I also recently saw a Slate article on a woman painter who only paints pictures of Hillary Clinton, often sexualized and many times holding a gun. Is that art? Is it respectful? Why always the gun? I heard Dustin Hoffman say that he had a contract clause from fairly early in his career where he’d never hold a gun in a movie. He thought the takeaway subtext was too easy. That interested me, too.

For all that, I have no interest in fostering debate as debate (so no literal politics, for example)—more the exchange of meandering ideas, which may persuade or not, but which are intriguing because they don’t get talked about a lot, and so folks don’t think about them a lot, but are thoughtful when they do come up….

I’ve been to a Socrates Cafe moderated by Christopher Phillips, which was brilliant; I’ve also been to the local Socrates meetup, which was meh. This is not that in either case. I’m not sure I’d choose all of the types of articles cited above; it would also depend on how they were written, but then, again, I might. Given that I’m reaching out to Metafilter people (and no other online group, by the way), for sure I’d welcome articles that anyone felt moved to send me.

Still interested? If so, I got a snappy new email in honor of this thread. I’d like a list of names and, ideally, a smidgen of information about you. Anything, your interests, your job, your locale, whatever, so I can start to assemble an invite list, and get a sense of who’s who.

The email address is:

As for questions:
  1. Is there anything I should know about the etiquette of going back and forth between public (this thread) and private (my email address)? Ideally, I’d like to host the salon in my living room. (I’m in Lower Manhattan, near four subways lines, and even some parking.) But, I’m obviously averse to listing the particulars here, so…
  2. Do you have any friends (Mefite or not) who might like to be on the list, too? And, if so, could you pass on email addresses?
  3. I like to schedule this sort of thing on the deadest night of the week: This means, maybe, a Tuesday or Wednesday after work. Will that work for you?
  4. I’ve debated best times, and the earliest I can likely do is 7:30 PM. Is that doable for you all?
  5. Any suggestions for a launch date? I’m thinking maybe November 18th. If not then, then fairly early into December? Again, opinions?
  6. Any general suggestions? Articles you want to send me? Again, the email is here:
But please continue to comment in the thread, as long as you think this should remain public And, again, if you have any advice on that, please share.

posted by Violet Blue at 2:49 PM on November 6, 2015

I can't make the first meeting, but I love this idea and would like to be added to the master list, if that's okay. Have emailed you, VB.
posted by zarq at 4:06 PM on November 10, 2015

I'd love to do this. And I'm free on the 18th. I just sent you an email.
posted by mayta at 7:11 AM on November 15, 2015

I can't make it this time but this sounds interesting for the future!
posted by Wretch729 at 10:09 AM on November 18, 2015

Thank you so much, it was a great evening, and wonderful to see familiar faces and also meet new ones.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:35 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

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