Downtown Arts + Science Salon
Downtown Miami has changed from a business and bureaucratic center that went to sleep at 5 pm to a vibrant entertainment hub.
Now, 2019, downtown has over 100 thousand residents scattered around high-rises. Along came the opera, the Miami Heats, night clubs and fancy restaurants. But Downtowners don't have many opportunities to gather for conversation with neighbors, to develop a sense of community.
We created the Downtown Arts + Science Salon to fill that void. We are, in effect, the space to meet fellow downtown residents for conversation over a glass of wine. Cofounder Marc Schmidt put it: "To take a break from virtual reality and reconnect with real people."
DASS is a combination of TED Talks and local Social Club.
Like TED Talks we believe in spreading great ideas in fifteen minutes or less. And social club in the historical sense, a meeting place for exchanging ideas on scientific innovations, books, art, technological trends…
A bit vague? Let me illustrate the concept:
One SALON was organized around the evolution of emotions, and how emotions influence laws. If enough people in a particular place share the emotion of disgust, for example, it can be enacted into law. Evolutionary psychologist Debra Lieberman, professor of Psychology at the University of Miami, led a contentious discussion, drawing on her book Objection, published by Oxford University Press.
Salons draw around 75 attendees. Ages fluctuating from 25 to 60. That's another characteristic of DASS: diversity, financial, occupational, age, ethnicity. A physicist sits next to a painter, a waiter next to a lawyer, etc.
Another SALON transformed the written word into jazz renditions and dramatic readings. We invited local writers, famous and not so famous to collaborate with excerpts from their works, and commissioned jazz musicians to interpret those excerpts, and actors to dramatize those pieces, hence creating a dialogue of genres.
we are not drifting away in space. The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for proving the existence of this particle.
We also host members-only happy hours with tango, poetry, wine, tapas… Even fencing.
DASS started 4 years ago at CU-1 Gallery. Then, when the building was sold, our business model changed for the better. Downtown became our campus. SALONS take place in downtown iconic venues, from the historic Olympia Theater to Books & Books, from Miami Dade College to residential high-rises.
DASS was founded in 2014 by novelist and journalist Raul Guerrero and Marc Schmidt, cardiologist and award-winning photographer. Raul Guerrero is the author of the novel WOMEN LOVE DR. BOLL, and Cronica del CORAZON, a minis encyclopedia of the heart, in Spanish, and collaborates with publications worldwide on culture, language and science. Locally his column appears at the Nuevo Herald. Marc Schmidt's photography wone first prize at the Miami History Museum's Street Photography Festival. More recently he was the official photographer for the acclaimed movie The Florida Project, for which its protagonist Willem Dafoe was nominated for the Oscar.
At the risk of sounding pompous, we do aspire to help foster a downtown sense of neighborhood through the exchange of ideas.
A WORD ON SALONS
Salons evolved in Paris and other cities in Europe and America as an alternative to universities and rigorous scientific academies. The likes of Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were regulars at Salons, and firm believers that knowledge and pleasure (food, wine and a little flirting—derived from the French word for throwing flowers—were not incompatible, on the contrary, they complemented one another.
Consequently, the Miami New Times had to say about DASS: "The best Place in Miami to met intelligent women."
If you wish to become a DASS member, please follow this link.
Clockwise: 1. Neruda: Poetry Salon at the Jazz Club Chat Noir. 2. Dramatic reading at the Olympia Theater. 3. History and Fiction Salon with Miami's Official Historian Dr.Paul George and DASS founder and novelist Raul Guerrero. 4. Media Salon featuring Nancy Ancrum Director editorial Pages at Miami Herald and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at Miami Dade College. 5. Professor Debra Lieberman at Books and Books, the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. 6. A tango Happy Hour at CU-1 Gallery.
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