Cities are very strange places where you can be lonely and struggle to meet like-minded people while literally being surrounded by thousands of people.
Add to this sense of isolation, the fact that we’re living in a post-Brexit world where the majority of people in the UK, for example, have decided that they do not want to be a part of the EU anymore.
But for London-based strategy director Simon Nash, who says he’s always loved bringing people together, this presented an opportunity to start a supper club that went beyond just having dinner and something to drink.
“A friend introduced me to Latitudinal Cuisine, an amazing supper club that has been running since 2009. Their members volunteer to host dinners on a global food theme, and they attract some incredibly smart people with all sorts of interesting backgrounds. I realised that combining the intimacy of a dinner table with our interdisciplinary events could lead to something genuinely interesting,” he says of how the idea for the Connected Supper was born nearly two years ago.
How the club works is that they track down interesting speakers, find a unique venue, arrange a chef, and gather for a lively 3-course dinner where speakers step up between courses to share their thoughts on the theme.
“I’ve made lots of fantastic new friends, and learned a lot from the experience, so from my point of view it has been a tremendous success.”
The first dinner attracted only 13 people paying £20 each to have dinner in a pub function room.
“Our most recent event had almost fifty attendees paying £35 to have dinner in the amazing October Gallery. Lots of people have come back more than once, some have become regulars. So, I think we must be doing something right.”
He says that the fact that about 69 per cent of people in London voted to remain in the EU during Brexit means that the crowd at the suppers is normally diverse in terms of background and where the people come from.
“There is a deep sense of frustration and anger toward the whole [Brexit] process, and a rising sense of optimism that we may be able to avoid it. The wheels seem to be falling off. That said, a significant proportion of the country voted for Brexit. I think those votes were misplaced but we need to listen to, and address, the concerns that led to them.”
Past speakers at the supper club include Sci-fi author Matthew De Abaitua; Vinay Gupta and Janet Hughes (talking about identity and blockchain technologies); and The League of Pragmatic Optimists’ Mark Stevenson and Gawain Hewitt (talking about building a more positive future).
He says that what the speakers and guests have in common is that they not only represent diverse views but they also recognise the value of something like Connected Supper Club.
“London is a big city and I don’t find it surprising that people are attracted to small events centred around dinner tables. People consistently frame their attendance with the need to connect. Whether they are new to the city, or like me, have waved goodbye to a generation of friends who’ve left to bring up family or move to a new country.”