Anyone who is a regular at art openings will have been to at least one after show dinner. At worst you’re trudging the streets in a pack of twenty looking for a restaurant (“no, we won’t have to book, there’s plenty of places") or the place has been pre-booked ("there’s 30 of us now and we're two hours late, can you manage?”). Even if you get inside the doors though, you'll still be left with the biggest question of all: where do I sit? Or, even more importantly, who will I end up sitting next to?
Fortunately help is at hand thanks to some brain time by Alex Cornell. He points out that “as the diameter of the table increases so does the importance of who you sit next to.” Safest are four person round or square tables where at least one of the three should be good company and is easily available from every sitting position.
A room with two tables of any size? As Mr Cornell says, “You’re fucked.“ He explains. “Whenever you make your choice of where to sit you will always choose too soon. You can only lament as the other table’s attendance crystallizes into what is clearly the superior group. Sometimes it’s best to visit the bathroom while seats are chosen, so any seating disasters are the result of chance, and not your own miscalculation.” You can read Cornell’s comments on other table arrangements and important concepts like diagonals, quiet spaces and lonely end-seats here.
And if you want a reminder of just how bad these dinners can be, try watching the ultimate glad-I-wasn’t-there after opening party in this clip from Julian Schnabel’s movie Basquiat.
Image: 'Andy' and Co. at the diner from hell in Basquiat