Friday, September 23, 2005

A Salon is...

The M.C. enters and sings his song, accompanied by the church organist--a pinch hitter still attired in his church wear. The M.C., on the other hand, is nattily dressed, in a tuxedo perhaps, or a fine Italian dress shirt and bright, modernistic tie. He swings a cane to and fro and formally reaches up to tilt his hat before speaking.

M.C.: Welcome! Welcome! Ladies and gentlemen... oh, I thank you all for gathering here today, and I invite you now to settle down with your food, with your drink. Let us celebrate, entertain, be entertained; that is what this salon is all about. Salon? Yes, salon. What is a salon, you ask? Hmm... [He walks over to the piano, puts down his cane, and picks up a thick, weighty looking volume. He thumbs through it. He quotes imperiously.] A salon is... 'a periodic social gathering of men and women [he looks up and smiles at the crowd] who are representative of the fashion [pause] wit [pause] literature [pause] art [pause] and politics.' [He nods appreciatively, glances again at the big book, then looks out abruptly.] But a salon is also 'an elegant apartment or living room.' Ah yes. Think of Louis the XIV, the great Sun King, holding his gatherings in marvelously gilded and mirrored rooms. C'est magnifique! [muttering to himself] Salon, a salon. What is a salon? [with great intensity, he addresses an audience member] And what of the cabaret? The soiree? The shindig? [He thumbs through the great tome.] A cabaret is 'a tavern, a restaurant, a small club [smiling nostalgically] --as in France-- providing musical or [wiggles eyebrows suggestively] other entertainment.

Audience member: [shouting] A cabaret IS the entertainment!

M.C.: [waving his hand to shush the outburst] And a soiree is 'a party or reception held late in the evening, often for the purpose of dancing or musical entertainment.' [to himself] Ah, but of course! Soir meaning evening. Bon soir meaning [dramatically, with a wave of the hand] good evening! [He buries his nose close to the page, laughs and snaps the book shut. He crouches down on one knee.] And a shindig? [trading in his refined European-inflected accent for a more colloquial tone] A shindig is 'a dance party or other festivity, especially of the noisy kind!'

[The audience laughs, whoops, and giggles. Their small commotion creates... noise, generally speaking.]

M.C.: [musing to himself] Then, of course, you have your galas. The symphony, the opera, the ballet... everyone seems to kick off the season with a gala, eh? [consults the book once more] A gala is 'a festive occasion marked by distinctly festive dress.' [He sighs, then addresses the crowd with a broad gesture.] So are you confused yet? A soiree is the time. A cabaret is the place. A shindig measures noise level while a gala compares cut [he stands profile, quite straight] curve [runs a hand from chest to thigh with a little hip gyration] and cleavage! [He gestures commonly.] We are here, in the out of doors, all of us musicians and performers, characters and curious onlookers, and it is the middle of the afternoon. We've been gathered, via invitation, to a salon. So a salon it shall be--our particular version of a salon--and I ask you again to settle in with a cocktail, a plate of marvelous food, and enjoy the surprises we have in store for you! [He picks up his cane and tips his hat again, then saunters from the stage to take a place in the expectant audience.]

A flamboyant young man emerges onto the stage from a set of French doors and nods confidently to the accompanist.


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