Salonathon says goodbye—for now | Performing Arts Feature | Chicago Reader

Salonathon says goodbye—for now 

The long-running live performance series isn’t dying, it’s evolving.

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click to enlarge Darling Shear performs at Salonathon.

Darling Shear performs at Salonathon.

Eric Kirkes

W hen Jane Beachy first started the weekly performance series Salonathon in July 2011, she didn't imagine it would run for more than two months. The show was founded with a DIY spirit, intended as an inclusive space for emerging artists to test the boundaries of performance. Soon one year came and went, then five. And now, six and a half years after that first night at Beauty Bar, the series is finally coming to a close.

Beachy stresses that this isn't a death, just a transition. Part of the reason she and her five fellow curators decided to end the weekly run was to make time and space for other possible collaborations and innovative projects under the Salonathon name.

"Stagnation is not good, and it's definitely not good for something that's all about the inner workings of the human spirit," Beachy says. "Those have to be ever-moving and
ever-fluctuating in order to stay nimble and be responsive to the world around you."

To say farewell to Salonathon in its current form, the cocurators will host Salonathon & On & On & On, a 14-hour celebration at Beauty Bar featuring workshops, performances, screenings, discussions, and a dance party. It will condense 340 weeks of art and a unique creative spirit into a single day. Deciding which performers would appear in the lineup, Beachy says, was the most painful meeting in Salonathon history.

"We really didn't want to just go out with a night that was complete pandemonium, though I'm sure it will end that way," Beachy says. "We wanted the more nuanced vibes of Salonathon. There's an opportunity for some quieter moments." There will be time for reflection as well: each curator has put together a performance looking back on his or her personal history with the series.

There's also one last chance for newbies to take the stage at Beauty Bar. Anyone who shows up right at noon will be placed into a group with other Salonathon hopefuls; they will spend the day creating a collaborative performance for a segment called First-Timers and Last-Timers.

Whatever form it takes next, says Beachy, Salonathon will continue its mission to support genre-defying art. But Beachy says there's a bittersweetness in the moments between this ending and the next beginning. "It's the kind of way you cry when a really good friend moves away to another city for a great job or because they fell in love," she says. "You're sad about the change, but you're happy for the reasons that it's happening."   v

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