A Salon…and It’s Not About Hair and Nails


A Reading of Moliere by Jean Francois de Troy circa 1728

If I say the word SALON, most people would think of a place where people, mainly women, go to get their hair done.  Or maybe get their nails done.

But when I say the word, I’m thinking of something more old-fashioned and European.  Back in the 18th Century, people would hold social or cultural salons.  Groups of people from various backgrounds came together to discuss topics.  Sometimes they met to discuss art.  Sometimes they met to discuss social and political issues.

I wish we had salons now.  We sort of do here in America.  We occasionally have authors, musicians and others who travel the country, speak to an audience and then answer questions.  Or a closer example would be when someone is interviewed in front of audience, answering questions from the interviewer and the audience. But there not even close to the old salons.

Unfortunately, social media has become our salon.  Someone posts an opinion on Facebook and even people he/she don’t know will rudely disagree.  We now have a new phrase called a Tweetstorm.  That’s what happens on Twitter when hundreds, even millions, of users respond to something that has happened in the world….or on Twitter.

I, myself, have tried to originate salon type discussions on Facebook.  My goal is always to recognize all aspects and opinions on a topic.  Generally, I have managed these discussions.  But I made the mistake of addressing this current political cycle.  Then, race relations. Responses varied from passionate disagreements to rude and inappropriate attacks.


A salon in London. Photo credit: Helen Abraham

I would like to think, and hope, we could have salons today.  And there are a few springing up around the world.  Cultural, social, political, literary, film, spiritual…we need to come together to discuss even things we don’t like to discuss.  The challenge would be to do so with civility, respect, openness and tolerance.

The original purpose of a salon was to educate and enlighten.




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