Death Salon LA… and beyond!

I think it’s safe to say that Death Salon LA was a great success. It certainly exceeded this organizer’s expectations. We started off early this year with just a corpse and a dream — to bring The Order of the Good Death members and other likeminded folk together to share ideas and get to know each other. Now I find that my mind is still reeling over the level of talent and artistry we had all in one place, the amount of amazing information conveyed in creative ways, and the potential collaborations that now loom on the horizon. It’s hard to distill everything that took place in one little weekend (and thanks to Aida Manduley I don’t have to try), but I did want to share a few thoughts about Death Salon LA and fill you all in on how we’re moving forward.

Our speakers & performers

Jill Tracy. Photo by Elli Papayanopoulos www.ellilaurenphotography.com

Jill Tracy. Photo by Elli Papayanopoulos http://www.ellilaurenphotography.com

Death Salon Cabaret host Lord Whimsy & The Grim Reaper. Photo by Elli Papayanopoulos www.ellilaurenphotography.com

Death Salon Cabaret host Lord Whimsy & The Grim Reaper. Photo by Elli Papayanopoulos http://www.ellilaurenphotography.com

Death Gospel originator Adam Arcuragi. Photo by Elli Papayanopoulos www.ellilaurenphotography.com

Death Gospel originator Adam Arcuragi. Photo by Elli Papayanopoulos http://www.ellilaurenphotography.com

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Elizabeth Harper at The Steve Allen Theater / Center for Inquiry. Photo by Megan Rosenbloom

Sarah Troop at Death Salon Cabaret. Photo by Elli Papayanopoulos www.ellilaurenphotography.com

Sarah Troop at Death Salon Cabaret. Photo by Elli Papayanopoulos http://www.ellilaurenphotography.com

I am still pretty flabberghasted at the level of scholarship and creativity we managed to gather into one weekend-long event. All of the talks were stellar but at the same time very different from one another. The music was transcendent. People expressed their creativity in more unexpected ways as well. For instance, Sarah Troop of Nourishing Death  created an elaborate and delicious menu for our party of funerary foods from varied parts of the world and different historical eras. It was quite a spread! (You can see lots of photos of the food and the rest of the events  from the weekend here.) Everytime I turned around, someone was going above and beyond to make the Death Salon experience special for everyone, and it really warmed my black little heart.

Our attendees

Death Salon attendees. Photo by Elli Papayanopoulos www.ellilaurenphotography.com

Death Salon attendees. Photo by Elli Papayanopoulos http://www.ellilaurenphotography.com

I wish I could come up with a better word for “attendees” because the 30 folks who came from all over the country for the full slate of events did far more than just attend. We really managed to make this an actual salon in the old sense of the word, with people excitedly sharing ideas, planning collaborations, and generally getting to know each other. I know I made a lot of friends that weekend that I am so honored to know now.

I am especially heartened by the reactions of the other kind of attendees — the public who came to our events. In the feature about Death Salon in The Atlantic, I think my favorite part is a quote from a member of the public who came to the Death Salon Cabaret not necessarily even knowing what we were trying to do, and came away with this response:

“This is even cooler than I thought it would be,” said Savannah Dooley, a 28-year-old television writer who professed to have no particular obsession with death. She stumbled upon the Death Salon on Facebook and decided to bring a date. “For someone not comfortable with death, this makes it accessible.”

This budding death acceptance movement, what ever we end up calling it, ultimately lives or dies by the public’s interactions with it. If we can get people to walk away from our events engaging with their own mortality in a healthy and thoughtful way, then I think we’re doing some real good.

With a little help from our friends

Death Salon Soiree locale. Photo by Elli Papayanopoulos www.ellilaurenphotography.com

Death Salon Soiree locale. Photo by Elli Papayanopoulos http://www.ellilaurenphotography.com

Whether it was getting an embalmer friend to infuse some cupcakes for our party, having local vendors sell their macabre wares at our events, getting a local craft beer & soda brewer to make us something special, or asking a friend to let us throw a party at her place, we were helped at every turn by generous friends to help us pull off events with special touches on a non-existent budget. Aside from our partners Atlas Obscura, LA Beer Hop, Los Angeles Ale Works, and all of our wonderful Death Cabaret vendors, everyone involved in this inaugural Death Salon event gave so freely of themselves for the greater good, and I will be eternally grateful to all of them for that. I’m not going to do an “I’d like to thank the Academy” speech because no one would read it, but they all know who they are, and they are legion.

Marching forward

BartsOld3

Bart’s Pathology Museum

O deathlings, do we have some news in store for you! We have many plans quickly taking shape for future Death Salons. Going forward we’re going to have two kinds of events… our annual Death Salon, and smaller, 1-day “pop up” events called Death Salon Forum. So far we’re excited to announce that we’re jumping the pond to do Death Salon UK at Bart’s Pathology Museum in London, April 11-13, 2014. The 2015 Death Salon will be in Cleveland at Dittrick Medical Center, and we’re making tentative plans for future years. Meanwhile we’re very excited at the beginning murmurs of our Death Salon Forum San Francisco for around this time in 2014, and we’re even toying with a 2014 Forum event in Seattle. Stay tuned…

Speaking of staying tuned, you all asked and we listened. You heard it here first! We’ve got a mailing list now, and we are still figuring out how to use it so please make like Dorothy Parker and pardon our dust. Sign up, and we’ll keep you posted on the rapidly-changing animal that is Death Salon.

True ’til death,

Megan Rosenbloom,

Director, Death Salon

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About Megan Rosenbloom

I'm a librarian at USC's Norris Medical Library. I'm a rare book nerd, particularly interested in the history of medicine and science.
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15 Responses to Death Salon LA… and beyond!

  1. burkehareco says:

    This even was truly an absolute marvel and I felt like I was in a darkly intelligent fantasy world. Thank you so much for organizing and bringing together all the beautiful minds <3 and thank you for the invitation.

    Hope to see more in the future!
    -Erica

  2. Loren Rhoads says:

    I’m in for a Death Salon Forum in San Francisco! Let me know how I can help.

    • Loren, Esmerelda here owner of KINKARACO (www.kinkaraco.com) burial shrouds (as seen on SIX FEET UNDER 2005) and pioneer of green burial while working in cemeteries both green and gothic. We are in SF and I have wanted to do one here for sometime and would love to get together with you & anyone in the area who would like to help. Sorry i missed LA salon. I was in Portugal.

  3. Such a fantastic event! London is beyond my reach, sadly, but San Francisco isn’t. If you’re in need of artings or other graphics, plz to let me know?

  4. Such a fantastic event! London is beyond my reach, sadly, but San Francisco isn’t. If you’re in need of artings or other graphics, plz to let me know?

  5. Likewise – happy to help in Seattle and please, please come here!!

  6. Amardeep Singh Sadhra says:

    Put me on mailing list please. I cant wait for Death Salon in UK. Being a regular at Barts Pathology Museum events.

  7. Loren Rhoads says:

    Reblogged this on Morbid is as Morbid does and commented:
    Death Salon will come to San Francisco in October 2014 for a 1-day forum = I could not be more excited!

  8. Sara Brink says:

    So happy to hear that you will be bringing the affair to Cleveland! I would be thrilled to be involved, and happy to help. You would all be welcome to visit our nature preserve cemetery, Foxfield Preserve, while in the area.

  9. Pingback: Death for Everyone | Megan Rosenbloom

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