We step into another world when we enter a gathering. There is a human need to be welcomed and entranced, but how we choose to honor our guests can take many forms.
An event is an invitation to build your own temporary tribe. Like any tribe, with its own rules, rituals and codes of behavior, you can seize the opportunity to bind your guests together and delineate this space from the outside world. Create temporary rules of conduct, dress codes, perhaps even your own language — with special terms and names for aspects of your event, shared in an event teaser or invitation.
Parker advocates for playful, transient “pop-up rules” (versus stuffy traditional forms of etiquette). She sees rules-based gatherings as “bringing new freedom and openness to our gatherings” to unite diverse attendees. For example, you might create a social experiment by eschewing last names or asking people not to share their professions, as a way of neutralizing social hierarchy and democratizing the social landscape. You could ask guests to turn off their technology, to inspire engagement and genuine presence.
Entice your guests to step out of their usual routine and enter into a different frame of mind. Perhaps you could build up anticipation among attendees beforehand, through an invitation or even a preparatory initiation or ritual. You might ask your guests to create a costume or an offering in advance, and to bring something they have made as a contribution to the collective.
When the gathering begins, keep in mind that your guests are at their most attentive. Parker says the beginning of an event is “an opportunity to sear your gathering’s purpose into the minds of your guests,” and shares a poignant example to illustrate this. Performance artist Marina Abramović prepared guests for a performance by having them place their belongings in a locker and then wait silently in their chairs for half an hour, wearing noise canceling headphones. A meditative “palate cleanser” and a shared ritual that bonded the attendees. When the music began, her guests were open and ready to be wowed.
A fitting closure, like the finite and unbending closing time at Scorpios, can provide a definite end to the gathering. How you close an event stays in people’s minds just as much as how you open it. Could one share a memory of the day, offer a quote, recite a pledge? All that matters is that you “keep true to the spirit of your gathering,” Parkers says.
These simple, authentic acts can shape the guests’ final experience, meaning and memory of the gathering.