Ok guys, as the hearts-and-chocolate aisle at CVS/RITE-AID/ANYWHERE will not let you forget-Valentine’s day is a mere 2 weeks or so away.
So-we’re piling on that particular anxiety wagon and posting something fun and useful and date-centric (well, we’ll aim for 2-out-of-3) all week. We did some of these guides before but decided they deserve updates SINCE DC IS A HOTBED OF NEW VENUE/RESTAURANT/BAR activity and there is PLENTY OF NEW OPTIONS TO TALK ABOUT. ALL CAPS.
What is that tingling feeling you sense? Oh, yeah, this:
Now, before we dive into specific location and activity recommendations (all within DC area, all tried and tested by the rom-com motley crew that is the BYT office)-we should set some perimeters.
First off, you should know there are 3 kinds of blind dates:
- the kind where you are asking to be set up by a friend, coworker or stranger
- the kind where you’re being FORCED into a set up by a friend, coworker, relative or (relative) stranger
- the kind where the internet sets you up (don’t even try and tell us these are not blind dates, BECAUSE THEY ARE. Anyone that has ever been on one knows that no matter how hefty their profile is and how many weeks you
spentWASTED on your workshopped Tinder opening lines (clicking on this link is going to help you do it better, btw) or emailing and gchatting – it is still very much a blind date
No matter what you think about one being preferred to the other-they all have equal potential for disaster and/or success. BUT YOU HAVE TO TRY. Otherwise, you may as well adapt to this attitude:
THEN, no matter what you do, here are things NOT to do:
- Don’t agree to a COFFEE DATE. Those don’t count and are stupid. In fact-no day dates. We firmly believe you will need flattering lighting, alcohol and/or something possibly stronger to make it through this.
- Don’t google them. Just don’t. You don’t need to see what position they played 0n their college lacrosse team or how they’re an avid tumblrer of Terry Crews gifs until they disclose this information themselves.
(though we naturally embraced this semi-opportunity to SHARE a Terry Crews gif, who is a dream blind/hug date if there ever was one, duh
- Don’t agree to a COFFEE DATE. JUST DON’T.
- Don’t facebook stalk them. People think this is sort of harmless, but then you find out that their last girlfriend was 5’1″ and blonde or 6′ and Asian and you are none of those things and all of a sudden you start questioning yourself. Oh, and yeah, they only broke up 3 WEEKS A GO. There is really nothing good that can come out of having that information on hand.
- Don’t agree to a COFFEE DATE. FOR REAL.
- Don’t plan on anything that cannot be ended in 45 min if necessary
- Don’t agree to a COFFEE DATE. FOR REALLY REAL.
- Don’t get your hopes up (this includes but is not limited to mass emails to your friends about how awesome this person sounds and how (s)he is e a an ex college swimmer AND a think tanker AND you always felt you would end up with an ex college swimmer or a think tanker and they are both and omg …)
- DID WE MENTION YOU SHOULD NOT AGREE TO A COFFEE DATE?
- (also, please, please don’t pregame, things don’t need to get any potentially awkwarder/sloppier than they will be just because you couldn’t wait 30 min to have a glass of wine. also don’t overdrink. a grown up should be able to be relaxed and handle a couple of cocktails when in the company of strangers. practice with your friends-let them tell you your limits. I KNOW THIS IS HARD, AND WE OURSELVES FAIL AT IT ALL THE TIME, BUT – YOU KNOW…it had to be said.)
- NO COFFEE DATES! NO COFFEE DATES! NO COFFEE DATES! NO COFFEE DATES!
(ha! GOTCHA! even if it is Michael Fassbender drinking coffee-STILL NO COFFEE DATES, ok? It will turn out ALMOST Prometheus level of disappointing, we promise)
Things to do
(and remember-much like any other competitive sport, BLIND DATING gets better with practice):
- Wear something comfortable but form fitting (if you don’t own anything on the intersection of the two, and yes, I am talking to guys too, then you need to obtain that item of clothing/ whole outfit STAT)
- Be clean. Smelling nice and/or not having a neck beard is the easiest thing you can do to not alienate someone.
- Eat something light but substantial beforehand if you’re going out for drinks. NO CHEESE. You’re lactose intolerant and you don’t even know it. Trust me. Everyone is. I grew up swimming in cheese and I am mostly lactose intolerant as a grown up. You WILL get gassy. And the only thing worse than getting gassy is getting gassy on a blind date. THIS BAR IS NOT A PLACE TO DUTCH OVEN ANYONE.
Now that we know you’re not filthy or gassy, lets talk conversational skills:
- Brush up on your “get to know me” stand-up comedy routine (but allow room for improv muscle to flex a little
- Read (or, ok skim) the newspaper, look at the internet, make sure you’re not completely clueless about the world, the pop culture universe, and other-not-painfully-personal conversation topics in case the occasion takes a breezy turn for the “there’s no chemistry here but we can still enjoy this drink while talking about The League and Ryan Reynolds movies” kind of an evening. Those kind of evenings are totally fine, btw.
- Maintain your sense of humor throughout this experience.
- BUY GUM.
- Remind yourself to stay sane (not doing the things I told you not to do above should help with this, but lets face it-we can’t get our hopes up too much about this can we? I mean, even the most supremely sane person 99% of time in day-to-day life (like myself) can be supremely insane on 99% of blind dates they go on since the potent mix of danger, despair and job interview dynamic can get the best out of all of us).
ALSO GOOD TO BEAR IN MIND:
- Listening matters as much as talking. It actually maybe matters MORE.
- Jumping to conclusions is wrong (unless they are wearing a cape, in which case you are allowed to jump to any and all conclusions (good or bad) even before the 45 min expiration period)
- Don’t share all of your date with all of the internet straight away. Oversharing is a very 2000s thing to do but just stay put.
- If making out/sex/whatever happens – it happens. It is 2015, we’re all grown ups, no one’s a virgin, there are no rules.
- DON’T BE AFRAID. SERIOUSLY. DON’T BE AFRAID.
Now that we have you settled….
here is what makes a GOOD BLIND DATE SPOT:
- Places which are not overcrowded (people constantly want to go on blind dates to some bar they JUST read about or, say, TRYST which (on top of the NO COFFEE DATE rule) also means that you will be going through this fundamentally awkward experience WHILE ALSO EXPERIENCING ZERO PRIVACY AND POSSIBLY SITTING IN SOMEONE ELSE’S LAP or (worse) NOT BEING ABLE TO SPOT EACH OTHER. You want someplace you will be seated ASAP and without awkwardness.
- Being able to go places a little early or a little late helps with this. Showing up to say, Jaleo or Barcelona AS SOON AS THEY OPEN is maybe a little dorky but it DOES guarantee you a seat. Which also brings me to this point: YOU NEED TO BE SITTING ON A BLIND DATE. You cannot be standing your way through a blind date, trust me.
- Places where you don’t know EVERYONE WHO WORKS THERE. As someone who knows AND loves a lot of people who work in a lot of bars, trust me- walking in and high-fiving the people who are about to serve you hard liquor and/or small plates of food always feels weird to the other person on the date.
- (or really 2a) Places where you will not know everyone (or anyone). You don’t want this date hijacked. After all (s)he IS the college swimmer/thinktanker of your dreams not their dreams, dammit.
- Places with potential activities or conversation topics built in.
- Places with flattering lighting (at least in portions of said places) – YOU GUYS THIS REALLY MATTERS. Eventually you will hopefully be in a land where they will know and love your every pore, but for the time being they don’t need to even know those pores exist.
- Places in close proximity to other potential activities and/or modes of transportation should the date go really well or really poorly
- Places with good cell phone service
- Places with options: wine, beer, other thinks. This is awkward enough without finding out 5 min into it you chose a place that caters exclusively NOT to things your blind date enjoys.
OK-now, here are some solid gold
BLIND DATE LOCATION RECOMMENDATIONS
(according to us):
BONUS: Tina Fey as your BLIND DATE cheerleader
- BYT staff did a bar guide recently – in it we asked them what their favorite DATE BAR was (among other things), use their recommendation. BEYOND THAT:
- BEDROCK BILLIARDS -Bedrock Billiards is a great example of a low stress blind date bar. Drinks are cheap, there are built in activities (pool, maybe even shuffle board, a jukebox), it is never really crowded, there are still plenty of semi-tucked away seats to hide in and people that work there are really nice. You can roll in any time, any day of the week and be a-ok for 30 min or 3 hours
- LYMAN’S TAVERN – Same logic as Bedrock Billiards but insert pinball games instead of pool. A great bar to have a conversation in.
- COMET PING PONG – now, Comet, granted is a little hard to get to if you don’t drive (though a brisk walk up from Van Ness does a great job of getting one into a clear headed mindframe before the “battle” ahead) BUT it is delicious and affordable and the beers taste great and there are ping pong tables in the back and the place just exudes that combo of both busyness and calm which works well to alleviate tension. BONUS POINTS: if all is going well, you can stay for the show, if all is not going well – you can swing by Politics & Prose and buy yourself a good book, because a good book will never disappoint/bore you with their stupid hobby stories.
- BOUNDARY STONE – from one of our contributors: “Boundary Stone is the best place to invite potential hookups. They have whiskey and the bartenders won’t make fun of you.” You can’t argue with THAT logic.
- SHOWTIME – Same logic as Boundary stone and you STILL can’t argue with it.
- DGS Delicatessen HAPPY HOUR – DGS Delicatessen has one of our favorite happy hours around and since happy hour food is the only food acceptable during a blind date, you may as well make it this delicious. Plus the bar is cozy and just fancy enough so you don’t seem like a cheapskate on a blind date.
- DUKE’s – I know several people who have Duke’s on their regular tinder first date rotation and frankly-it makes sense: the place is relaxed, the beer/wine selection is affordable (and less dangerous than a liquor/cocktail bar choice), and the sandwiches are both a completely acceptable meal to share on a blind date AND a completely acceptable way to decide whether you’re compatible (if he/she can’t get down with a Duke’s burger-they can’t get down with ANYTHING)
- PENN SOCIAL – To quote Shauna: “They have games to play, very good beers on tap and bahn mi’s aka I’d probably live there if it wasn’t in Penn Quarter (which is still, like, so convenient for everyone one way or another)”
- LOUNGE AT THE QUILL AT THE JEFFERSON (IN FACT, MOST FANCY HOTEL BARS AROUND TOWN) – so BYT loves a good hotel bar, we’re not gonna lie. The great thing about hotel bars and blind dates is that there are too many great things about hotel bars and blind dates to count: the staff is super on point, the places are NEVER CROWDED and very classy (and trust me, on a blind date (just like in life in general) it is better to project and air of class than an air of non-class) AND YET filled with that semi-clandestine vibe of a place where people mostly in transit meet (semi-clandestine is good on blind dates too), it almost never features anyone you know in said bar, everyone is minding their own business and random magical things happen like champagne sabering to announce cocktail hour or showtune evenings with proper piano players which are perfect conversation topics when the conversation is running a little on the dry side. PLUS, there are rooms upstairs to be had (not that you should do that on a blind date but it is nice to know that you could, right? right). BONUS TO THE BONUS: VERY FLATTERING LIGHTING.
- POP’S SEABAR – Fried food it not what we’d recommend top of the list for a blind date, but the easy/breezy vibes, built-in nostalgia (and conversation topics about youthful summer memories and/or Jersey – two things everyone has an opinion on) creative drinks and a location that is also in the imminent proximity to some of our OTHER favorite date spots makes this a no brainer.
- NAPOLEON during happy hour – 1/2 fancy champagne drinks and 1/2 off their bar menu. AND NEVER EVER CROWDED (somehow). Also, if it goes well, there’s dancing downstairs, pool at Buffallo Billiards, elaborate meals at Cashion’s or Mintwood – all within easy reach. But mainly because fancy champagne drinks make everyone twirly.
- BAR CHARLEY – Great location. Never too crowded. Flattering lighting. Affordable yet high quality drinks. Excellent potential to move from bar to (Casual enough) dinner or vice versa.
- ALL SOULS – Great location. Never too crowded. Flattering lighting. BONUS: the rose and Maker’s neat combos are literally the ONE drink special in this city that any girl and guy can share even minutes after they meet.
- RNR HOTEL ROOFTOP OR DC9 ROOFTOP – both the RNR Hotel and DC9 rooftops are perfect for casual blond date situations. Never too crowded, with great happy hours/drinks, within easy walking distance to any 12 000 other activities around them and just divey enough so it doesn’t seem like you’re trying hard enough but not dirty or “cash only” or featuring nothing to eat but tiny bags of weird nuts or whatever the other issues truly divey bars may present on blind dates.
- BLACK JACK on a Sunday daytime – Black Jack keeps a Sunday happy hour and the usually-packed-on-weekends space is surprisingly airy and nice and there’s bocce in the back.
- VENDETTA BOCCE – see above but nighttime.
- SAINT-EX ON A WEEKDAY – go downstairs if you want more privacy, or just sit at the bar or that little window seat scenario and people watch. The only downfall: if you do sit in that little window seat scenario, people may see you while walking up and down 14th street and then they may decide to come in and say HI and then linger and…. so, maybe the downstairs and/or the bar.
- LITTLE MISS WHISKEY’S EARLY ON – Flattering lighting, an insane amount of cheap yet fancy enough beers and a chance to go dancing afterwards if you feel like dancing? Sign us up.
- JACK ROSE ON A SUNDAY LATE AFTERNOON/EVENING – it is perfect. Especially (obviously) if one of you two is into whiskey/bourbon/scotch and/or really good beers. Great lighting in the downstairs space too.
- BAR DUPONT – I have had A LOT of first business meetings at Bar Dupont (which are essentially blind dates) and can recommend it for any number of reasons: the early happy hour (4-6pm) is a great deal, the nut tray they give you always makes me happy, and the wrap-around glass makes this an amazing Dupont circle people watching destination.
- AMBAR – Balkan food is basically the best of combo of Mediterranean and Eastern European dishes, and the 30+ rakija bar will offer both plenty of social lubrication AND conversation topics. PLUS, A FOREVER HEATED ROOFTOP.
- BLACK CAT RED ROOM EARLY IN THE EVENING – all the obvious reasons: the jukebox offers a chance to both bond and judge, the pool table and the arcade offer divertisments, the booths tend to be empty early in the evening, the Food For Thought food is delicious if needed and there is a show to go to afterwards, should you choose to. BONUS: everyone has Black Cat show memories so even if you have nothing else to talk about, you’ll have that.
- SMOKE & BARREL – I used to love ASYLUM but I think I love SMOKE & BARREL more. The bar is never packed, the old fashioneds (order them with Elijah Craig) can make any awkward social situation go away, the noise levels are just perfect, the lighting is top notch, the staff is extremely nice but also extremely into minding their own business and the food is actually great. I actually did a lot of our job interviewing here when we were hiring our managing editor because it is so easy to have a conversation there, which is, frankly, as blind datey as an evening is going to get. Just remember the “don’t get wasted” rule in life and dating.
- KRAMERBOOKS – Peruse books, drink delicious beer, eat all that pie they have there and if the conversation is going nowhere there is still always the books and beer and pie to make you feel the trip was well worth it.
- SATELLITE ROOM – American Ice Co. is great (and I have actually been to A blind date there, which was fine since it was on a Tuesday and early) but it can get a little crowded, especially on a 930 club show night (which is every night) but Satellite room is still sort of unblemished by the masses, mainly because it is not really a party bar. But it has a great vibe, you can always get a seat AND those alcoholic milkshakes are a perfect compromise between an awkward middle school date and a grown up situation.
- EIGHTEENTH STREET LOUNGE – Back in the day when I worked a real job and went to happy hours, I remember being at ESL with some coworkers and running into a friend, on a blind date. I was all like: “What’s up? Didn’t expect to see you here” and he was all like: “Yeah, this is my go to internet date spot” and I was like “Really?” and he shrugged and said: “Yeah, plenty of room, girls think it’s pretty nice, and you never run into people you know early on. Well, ALMOST never”. And he had a point.
And after the date, no matter how it goes-remember, it IS JUST A (BLIND) date. Even if it doesn’t work out, you will NOT end up lonely for life, making emo(tional) tumblr art forever, trust us.
now-tell us some of your recommendations in the comments. PLEASE. TOMORROW – we’ll deal with dates with people YOU’VE MET IN PERSON BEFORE.