’16N’ Hanoi.
*Secret location*: Nhọ Nồi


SIXTEEN PEOPLE convened at the space pictured above for a low-key and playful  conversation salon themed, NARRATIVE. What are the stories we tell to the world? Which ones do we tell ourselves? A light, airy and easygoing gathering with new and different others who met, briefly and just once, on 27 June 2017. Keeping in concert with past ‘N’ events in London, Bangkok, and Phnom Penh, each ‘N’ starts with an ‘N’, and happens in a city with an ‘N’ in it, at a venue that starts with an ‘N’. [More about the 16N project is here.] 


What we made together…



The decision to blog ‘N’…

BLOGGING THE JOURNEY of ‘N’, this time. Out loud, in real time. Not knowing what would happen, or if it could, given that it was a new thing. I mean, it was MR who pointed out, when we were meeting at ‘N’ in Bangkok, that this was a thing that no one else seemed to be doing, and that writing about it and sharing it would be really interesting to people. This was hard for me to wrap my head around, since the work to gather us all, the 16 people who convene on the day of an ‘N’, seems like… slogging through the weird and unintriguing usual stuff of the creative process. You have your moments of glory, and then, you have the days you just want to hit ‘reset’ or ‘abort’ and go on you merry way to a completely different project. Or just quit all of them, and sit around in a cafe or some beachfront property whiling away your day, because that is easier than trying to ask people you don’t know to show up for a ticketed event in a place that you aren’t even living in, for a thing called ‘N’.

Hanoi was, after all, mostly a new place. I had no prior ties to Hanoi that were anything real, since I’d only just dropped in for a couple of weeks, four years ago. I took to the city, though, by the time it was leaving time. The intricacies of details, the sense of Self Identity, the fastidiousness around items that seem like the y might be important cultural artefacts, that kind of detail made wonder if ‘NARRATIVE’ might be a good theme for that city. It was.

The story. Let me take it from the top… I was sitting in a small dingy room, writing into the laptop, thinking, ‘Who cares about the journey of ‘N’? Well, whatever. Let’s just make the whole website that.’ And here we are.

I HOPE YOU ENJOY this cataloging of the live-blogging about how ‘N’ came into shape for Hanoi. You’ll see fear, trepidation, anxiety, doubt, and personal stress as the project started, but also, with the setbacks, also some gains, in the glimmering of a pursuit to focus on the doing, the brute-force method of showing up enough times until enough people say, ‘I get what you’re about. I’m in.’ It works magic, when we find you all… all 16N. The magic number. Then again, in the writeup afterwards, in the collected poetry that we made on the spot at this page, I realized… it wasn’t about me, or the design, or even the doing of the inviting… it was about the people who came. Their being there, showing up, for themselves and one another. That. That was the beauty. That is the poetry, to ‘N’, to me. People, in real life, talking together. Untied from their phones (which we put in a box). Just… looking at one another. Noticing our selves, in the now. Eye contact, human connection, physical proximity. This is important, I feel. Irreplaceable. Rarer, to me, real life is like.. art. Great conversation, to me, is art.


A note about the tickets…

DESIGNING TICKETS. The pieces we collaged together for our tickets at ‘N’ Hanoi came from postcards, magazines, and other bric a brac I found on a six-week tour of Scandinavia, ostensibly to make ‘N’ Copenhagen, in 2015. When we got back to the studio in Phnom Penh, the set just started to make itself:

Making tickets

THE PEOPLE who opt-in for an ‘N’ tend to be those I just happen to discover, on the spot, in the moment, right before an ‘N’. Something to think about for 5N. In the beginning, I thought that the people I knew the longest would be the first ones to say ‘yes’ and book in for ‘N’. This has been untrue. But I’m learning that’s okay. Instead, then, of relying on old networks (there really is no currency in relationships that you don’t maintain, that you let fall by the wayside, and fair enough), I’m working at discovering new people on the spot. In the moment. Even, maybe, on the day of an ‘N‘ itself. New and different others are popping into the screen and into the email box and into your train car, onto your bus, at the same restaurant where you are, or upstairs from where you are living pretty much constantly. You know, it’s not about longevity, I’m seeing. It’s about timing, showing up, saying yes, a gut feeling, chemistry, whimsy, and even… good weather. The right mix of all of these things makes it work, makes us ready to gather for something like an ‘N’.

We have hosted, so far:

  • ‘N’ Phnom Penh: NORMALITY at NUK Cafe
  • ‘N’ Bangkok: NOW at Nikko Cafe
  • ‘N’ London: NOTEWORTHINESS at the National Theatre
  • ‘N’ Hanoi: NARRATIVE at Nhọ Nồi

In the end we’ll have 16 cities. Cities with an ‘N’ in them. For conversations with ‘N’-titled themes, at venues that… hey. You see the pattern, right? :)


Continue reading about ‘N’…

WOULD YOU like to read updates on where N goes next?

To Copenhagen, is the plan, for 5N. ‘N’ Copenhagen: NEARNESS. What’s close? How does it affect me?

Bit nervous, now, gathering up the gumption to ask people there to join me for ‘N’. But I must. I have to. I love that city, I love the way people sit close together and talk, at length, together. ‘N’ will be nice there; I’m certain of it. Whenever it will happen, and with whomever says ‘yes.’

MAILINGS. To keep up with this project, check this blog from time to time (see ‘Lately’ under ’16N’ in the menu.) Or, for direct notes and exclusives for our community, join us in S P A C E.