Articles about our conversation salons
Since March, 1998, we've been offering a way for people who, like us, consider friendly, imaginative conversation to be great entertainment, to have good fun together. We've formed a healthy-sized group of people who meet regularly to engage in the art of conversation. We try to provide a place where thinking people can freely exchange and commingle ideas, imaginations, energy, talents, wild-eyed visions–where we can comfortably and effectively suspend our assumptions about life in order to inquire into the unknown together.
Our inspiration was the concept of a neighborhood conversation salon promoted by the Utne Reader in the early 1990s. The gatherings we host aren't much like the long-ago salons of Paris or New York, where authors, artistes, pundits and socialites would strut their stuff. There is nothing elitist about this salon. The gatherings probably most resemble encounters you may have had around campfires, over kitchen tables, in dorm rooms or at slumber parties, during times in your life when everyone you knew seemed eager to share visions and ideas. We don't argue or debate–most of the time, we take a topic as a point of departure and see how far we can go with it. It's not an "ain't it awful party," nor is it a dry seminar that requires research or preparatory readings. Educated revelations are always welcome, but most of the time, we exchange gut reactions and whimsical musings, our in-the-moment responses to each other's "what if"s and "what would you like to see"s.
We usually get a crowd of 25-40 people per salon. We arbitrarily divide into two smaller groups, sit on futons and cushions on the floor in two furniture-free rooms and talk our heads off from 7-10 p.m., with a break somewhere in the middle to allow for more intimate exchanges, duels, room switching, whatever.
The salon is not a closed society that you have to join. We usually mail invitations for each gathering to about 150 people. The first 36 or so to rsvp form the group that attends a particular salon. Different topics draw different people and personal schedules will preclude some would-be attendees from joining us on any given date. It is safe to say that, 95% of the time, there is room for everyone who wants to be at a particular gathering. Consequently, every salon is a unique mix of personalities. There are people who come nearly every time, more who attend about half the gatherings, and several who show up only a few times a year. Nearly every salon has new faces. Thus, each gathering feels both fresh and familiar.
are very fortunate to have attracted people with a variety of backgrounds.
from doctorate-level degrees to high school dropouts. We include
professionals, blue collar workers, sales clerks, artists, slackers, you
name it. Ages range from very early 20s to late 70s, with the
majority of attendees being in the 35-65 age range. (We four hosts are 21,
54, 56 and 65 years old.) We probably have a higher per
capita occurrence of anarchists, activists and vintage hippies than one
finds in most groups; however, we have a healthy minority of right-wing,
conservative, business-people, as well as libertarians, members of
mainstream religions, etc. The vast majority of the salon people can walk
around a mall or an airport without attracting undue attention. The group
has always been amazingly (and accidentally) gender-balanced and includes plenty of singles and couples. Needless to say, the salon
gives rise to feelings of community and affinity, to meaningful
relationships and celebratory connections.
is absolutely no charge for any of this. The salon is a labor of
love, an effort to bring people together to entertain each other and make
our own ragged joy. If this sounds like its up your alley, let us
know and we'll take it from there. Email us at email@example.com
and we'll get back to you soon!
Please note that the salon is a real live phenomenon, not a cyber-something. We're too busy socializing with people in their embodied form. If Elgin, IL, isn't geographically convenient, we're really sorry, but that's where this salon happens. We urge everyone who can't come to Elgin, or who can but don't like us, to consider starting their own conversation salon style discussion group. If you're from Katmandu and expect to be in the Chicago/Elgin area, feel free to check with us to see if your visit coincides with a Salon Saturday!