Thursday night was last call at Elaine's, the Upper East side saloon famous for hosting the city's elite for almost fifty years. This saloon was the city's last great salon, where the great talents of this city came together to eat, drink, and talk about their work and lives. What made Elaine's so popular was that it was so exclusive -- it was where cultural powerhouses came to feel part of a club.
Now Elaine's is gone. And, as those denizens who were there on its last night said, there will never be another one like it.
But I disagree. Exclusive salons in NYC like Elaine's or Toots Shor may be no more, but a new generation of salons is blossoming all over town. What are they?
Call them democratic salons or 21st century, new media salons. Instead of writers and intellectuals kibitzing in exclusive surroundings, beer gardens are where bloggers and ordinary people congregate to talk about their work and lives -- and they're open to everyone. Beer gardens are where the great minds of this century in this city are going to meet each other and exchange ideas. These are the places in NYC where people hold court, have fun, and plot the future. Beer gardens are the new salons of NYC.
"To everything there is a season ..."
The exclusive cultural salons of NYC had their day -- and what a long, great day it was. But, with Elaine's gone, that day is over. Yet when one door closes (literally in this case), another one opens (actually many, literally, considering how many beer gardens are opening up around town). So do not fear. The salons of NYC are alive and well. They've just changed with the new millennium -- and that's probably a good thing.