AS THE SEASON of art gallery openings and symphony concerts approaches what can you do to prepare for these high-class events? Say you are going on a date with a new potential partner or even a significant lover. He/she decides on a museum gala, opera, symphony, or some other cultured event. Here are a few quick tips to not only survive but also enjoy these high society events.
1. What do you wear?
For musical concerts the general rule is dress one level below the performers. An opera, where the characters are in elaborate concerts, is the exception. If it is a symphony where they are all wearing tuxes, you must wear at least a suit and tie. If the musicians are just wearing suits, a button up and tie is acceptable. Black-tie wear is usually expected for high-society events such as a symphony gala or fundraiser. Art galleries will have a much wider variety of dress; though when impressing a date you can never go wrong with a button up and tie. Just play it safe and don’t be that artistic person who showed up in cut off jeans and a t-shirt…; nobody is going home with them!
2. How do you act?
Do NOT touch the art, unless it is an interactive work where they ask you to touch it. In some more modern pieces it is hard to tell what is art and what is simply a chair in the room. Play it safe and follow the lead of some of the more experienced art goers. Most importantly, don’t try to be too deep in discussing a work you don’t understand. This will often lead to you looking foolish.
At a musical concert make sure your cell phone is off! Nothing is more embarrassing than that techno-phonic ringtone going off in the middle of Brahms. Oh you think you can turn it off without everyone seeing? NOPE! They all know it was you and you are forever shunned in their minds.
Wait for appropriate times to clap; in a multi-movement work clap at the end of the piece, in jazz after the solos, and in opera at the end of each aria. There are a lot of rules to remember so the easiest way is to fake it. Wait until you hear everyone else, clapping, standing in ovation, or yelling Bravo, and follow suit. Your date will never be the wiser.
3. How do you appreciate what you may not understand?
In many situations where you are at your first gallery show, or musical event you may not know what to like and what not to. Be honest! If you truly don’t get something, admit it! This will look way better than trying to fake admiration. With artwork, look for the motion in the piece. If it is abstract try getting very close (DON’T TOUCH IT!) and see the motion of the brush strokes; are they big, small, furious, calm? See the underlying work an artist put into a piece and comment on that. Another thought is don’t try to make everything look like something; we are not watching clouds here. Say exactly how it makes you feel. This could be a memory, an emotion, a vibe, whatever, but these feelings will open you up to your date and make the time more memorable.
In a musical event take the same approach. Read the program notes and see if any of the historic culturally relevant material strikes interest to you. If not, start listening and create a story. Hear the different motifs, sounds, emotions, and turn them into characters. Entertain yourself in a way to keep up appearances of attentiveness and interest. Nothing looks worse than someone falling asleep at your favorite symphony concert. If you find yourself drifting off… SIT UP! Often times just sitting with your back off the chair can keep you awake. Finally when all else fails, just ask your date what he/she thought.
In the high-society world of art and music there are many taboos.
Follow the above guidelines and you will appear affluent and educated at any event. Most importantly your date will be impressed and if it doesn’t work out, you know it wasn’t because you embarrassed him/her.