Arriving in the coffee-house, customers were expected to take the next available seat, placing themselves next to whoever else has come before them. No seat could be reserved, no man might refuse your company. This seating policy impresses on all customers that in the coffee-house all are equal. Though the matter of seating may appear inconsequential, the principle of equality this policy introduced had remarkable ramifications for the decades to come. From the arrangement of its chairs, the coffee-house allowed men who did not know each other to sit together amicably and expected them to converse.
I have been reading Markman Ellis’ fabulous history of the coffee-houses, and it got me thinking about the cinemas. I only ever watch films in the cinemas, because I’m particular about watching films on a big screen. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t see much of a reason to go to the cinemas. My local cinema in Sydney has two hundred or so seats. Often, I am only one of a handful of people in attendance; a sad state of affairs.
Perhaps cinemas should look to the Coffee-House of 17th Century London for some inspiration…
On that note, David Lynch is planning some exciting things in Paris