After spending a full day perusing booths upon booths of international galleries at Art Basel last weekend, we were invited to a group dinner in the old town of Basel. The pleasant summertime temps and lingering daylight were further enjoyed by the fact that we were dining al fresco in a cobblestoned square surrounded by quaint Swiss buildings. It was, by all measures, a perfectly fine gathering. There was a mix of familiar faces as well as new–exhibitors (them) and spectators (us). The conversations ambled along in an entertaining enough manner yet marked with the expected distance of a professional tone. As the evening winded down, everyone gently indicated in their own way that it was time to return to their hotels.
"I have to pack for my flight in the morning."
"I've had a long week."
"It was so busy today. I can't wait to go back and decompress."
But, then, somebody decided to strike that dreadful, off-key chord:
"Wait, let's get a nightcap after this! C'mon, we're in Basel! Let's check out the scene! Where should we go?"
Cue the silent groans and grumbling heard 'round the table–all except by the perpetrator, of course.
Some nights are ripe for spontaneous extensions into the wee hours of the morn; others, however, are not. The key in distinguishing between the two involves being highly attuned to the underlying vibes of the people around you. Don't be the oddball who, after a lovely dinner, insists on one more nightcap when the group is clearly ready to call it a night. (The absolute worst suggestion I've encountered is when someone desperately tried to round a group into going to a karaoke bar.) This will only lead the evening into inevitable decay.
You'll find that the people to whom you said "It was nice meeting you" at the end of dinner have now become–to your dismay–the people you never ever ever want to meet again. And by this point, they're asking for your contact info.
Trust me, the best thing to do is depart on the heels of the night's crescendo. Abandon any fear of missing out and leave on a high note. Preserve whatever mystery was in the air. You don’t have to become new besties with the person who sat across from you. In most cases, it's best to let the night stay young.