Bars exist to create a world of potential. Yet often, they are self-defeating because it’s not all that easy to meet new people in them, especially if you’re hopping with a pack of wingwomen (read: competition, intimidation).
A notion previously reserved for alcoholics, going to a bar alone can be about creating independence as well as a tactic for meeting strangers. Or, okay, maybe you just really want a drink and don’t want to look like a loser doing it. Do your research. Don’t randomly pick some place you’ve never been only to find yourself awkwardly clutching a glass and feeling conspicuous. Being comfortable in a space is the most important thing, so start off by considering bars you know. Even if you’ve read about some great singles bar, consider that it might be painfully empty on the night you set out, or you may walk into a place that’s jam-packed with tables-for-two only. Pick a place that you know will be moderately busy when you go, and has a variety of seating options.
However, branching out into new territory can be a great thing. Make a list of places you want to try that are in walking distance. You can cross one off your list if you walk by and see that it’s PDA date night there. If you can’t tell from outside, walk in, pretending like you’re looking for someone, and huh, they’re not here yet, so you’re going to go outside to call them. Then book it to the next place.
Make it easy on yourself. Give yourself a reason for walking into a place alone. Everyone has to eat, so find out where you can order food at the bar. Bringing a book or magazine will make you look more like a regular. If you’re in luck, maybe there’s a cute boy doing the same thing nearby. More and more, bars offer free WiFi, so you could set up camp to get some work done. Browse regional newsletters and culture guides like Flavorpill or DailyCandy to see if any bars are hosting events that might pique your interest—like film screenings, comedy nights, music—which provide easy conversation starters. (“Do you know what time the next band goes on?”; “Do you know if they’re doing other events like this?”)
I’m sitting here alone, doing nothing. Now what? You’ve gotten your drink and now you feel super awk because you don’t know whether to stare straight ahead like, man, I had a tough day, or sadly stir your drink as if to say, gee, I’m so lonely. You can always pretend you’re waiting for someone by fidgeting with your cell. This also gives you a good excuse to check out the crowd if you’re “expecting someone to walk in the door.” Another option: chat up the bartender. It’s their job to talk to people. Finally, it’s easy enough to get in with a group of girls. You can try getting in first by giving a fashion compliment and then by asking, “I’m alone. Is it okay if I stand with you guys until my friend gets here?” Yeah, it’s a bit weird, but if a nice girl posed that question to your group of girlfriends, would you turn her away?
Hotel bars. You’ll find travelers who are solo, just like yourself. ‘Nuff said.
The crowd can be a good thing. No easier way to chat someone up than if you’re pushed up against them. At a place where it takes you 15 minutes just to squeeze your way to the front of the bar, you may find a handsome neighbor who is willing to do it for you and enjoy your company when he gets back.
Own it. Confidence attracts. You can’t pull it off if you look anxious or unsure. Give off an I do this all the time air. Because by the time you get in the swing of things, you’ll be doing just that.