Remember when you were an amazing artist, a daring trapeze performer and a famous rock star — all in the same afternoon?
As a child you were endlessly creative, fun-seeking and fearless about play. You worked at it like a job, only it was more fun. Now you’ve got a real job and lots of other responsibilities. But it’s never too late to play. In fact, it’s good for you, say a number of Atlanta business owners who encourage grown-ups to lighten up and rediscover their inner child. A sampling follows.
Wired and Fired: A pottery playhouse
Tired of dressing up to plan country club events, Erinn Grier bought a pottery-painting studio nine years ago and began inviting kids, adults, groups and parties to come create. You can choose to decorate any of the 200 bisque dishes or figures available. The studio will fire your masterpiece for pickup three days later.
“I go home covered in paint every day, but who cares, it washes out,” says Grier. “You could say that I’ve definitely connected with my inner child.”
First dates, anniversary celebrations, team-building exercises and parties happen naturally at this West Midtown spot, where it’s OK to move the tables, bring in food or wine, and have fun.
“Adults beat themselves up,” Grier says. “They think they aren’t creative, or it has to be perfect. When we hear, ‘I can’t,’ we say, ‘of course you can.’ We tell them to just relax, and help guide them. So what if they go outside the lines. It’s only pottery. When they get past the fear, they have a great time.”
Grier loves the surprise on people’s faces when they pick up their work and say, “Well that’s not so bad. I could put that out.”
Details at http://www.wiredfired.com or 404.885.1024.
Aerial Silks Atlanta: The Sky Gym
Amber Monson saw a Cirque du Soleil performer doing aerial dancing under the Brooklyn Bridge 10 years ago, and got chills.
“I loved fitness and dance and realized that this was my passion,” she says of aerial dancing, a term used for any kind of acrobatic arts done suspended from wires, hoops or silk ropes.
Monson found instructors, earned national certifications and became the director/owner of the Sky Gym, now in Sandy Springs, where she teaches others how to twirl, twist, swing and fly through the air.
“I realized that if I made my passion my profession, I would never have to grow up,” the former industrial designer says.
Her clients come without experience or much upper body strength and are able to progress through the skills in a safe, encouraging atmosphere that offers group and individual lessons, and parties. Aerial dance is fitness training that is also an artistic, creative outlet.
“People will tell themselves they could never do that, but when they face their fears and get that first taste of adventure, it gives them confidence to try other things,” Monson says. “Many adults find it hard to get excited about anything, but excitement comes naturally here, where they can reconnect to their childlike passion for play.”
Details at http://www.aerialsilksatlanta.com or 404.309.9696.
Eclectic Music: Rethinking music lessons
Music is an international language that children enjoy naturally. But too often they hear from teachers or others that making music is only for the talented or dedicated. You either have talent or you don’t.
“There are a lot of myths about talent, but the truth is that you can develop musical skills at any age,” says Casey McMann, owner and director of Eclectic Music in Atlanta. “It’s never too late to explore that part of yourself.”
Feeling lucky to have grown up in a loving, musical family that played and sang together, McCann and her instructors try to re-create that atmosphere for their students at three locations — in Virginia-Highland, Ansley Park and Morningside.
Eclectic Music offers individual and group instruction on a variety of instruments — guitar, piano, bells, violin, ukelele, percussion, and brass and wind —and voice and songwriting lessons for all ages. Jam sessions, parties and kids’ summer camps are part of the fun. “Our approach aims to take the fear and intimidation out of music,” McCann says. The instruction is anything but stuffy.
She interviews students to see what and how they want to learn. Maybe they want to read music or just learn chords on a guitar so they can sing with their children. McCann pairs them with a teacher. “We encourage students to quit worrying about perfection and just play.”
She might tell an adult guitar student to think like he’s 14, in his room, putting off his math homework and to just let go and enjoy it. “It’s so rewarding to see their childish delight in being able to do something they couldn’t before.”
Details at http://www.eclecticmusicatlanta.com or 404.910.3687.
Laura Raines is an Atlanta freelancer who specializes in writing about health care, education, business and the arts.