A third place is typically not an attractive place. It's the "hole in the wall" that you have to hear about from your friends. There is usually no big sign; no advertising campaign. I think of the Blind Onion in Portland. We would have never gone there if friends hadn't told us about it. Another part of the Low Key atmosphere is that you don't have to dress up, you come as you are. The decor reflects this by being simple. All of this acts as a repellant to people who might not want a third place.
The Mood is Playful
Not that all conversations are always joking, but the overall mood is playful and lighthearted. Joke and wit and fun are the fabric from which the play is formed. "The magic of playgrounds is seductive." When we play, we cease to be ourselves, we are no longer constrained by common rules, we visit "temporary worlds within the ordinary world."
A Home Away from Home
What is home? What gives a feeling of being at home? I don't think there is a definitive answer, but Oldenburg suggests five:
- Roots - home is where we know we will be regularly.
- Possession - it is our home. I can do what I want to in my home.
- Regeneration - my body and spirit are refreshed at home.
- Freedom - I can be myself and express my feelings.
- Warmth - "emerges out of friendliness, support, and mutual concern . . . and enhances the sense of being alive."
Third places meet many or all of the qualities of home.
This concludes the chapter: Character of a Third Place. You now know what a third place is - so do you want one? Do you have one? What would you be willing to give up to have a third place?