Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dating in LA: Three go-to economic and creative alternatives to the standard dinner date



Gentlemen, where do you turn to for dating advice when you’re young, 20-something, living in LA and must conservatively spend your disposal income? TV and movies encourage us to ask a girl we like out to dinner, an evening that could cost upwards of $60 for two hours of chit-chat and eating. Afterward, the night is young and you could spend more cash. However, there are more creative and economic alternatives on how to show a woman a good time.

My goal with this blog is to share the fun ideas and philosophy of the modern, young gentleman, the “nice guy” with an assertive, suave edge. A guy who is for the first time facing dating in the working world, and wants to dive it but not blow to much hard-earned cash in the process. There’s no need to behave like a crazed man running around a club with fake high-energy when deep down you’re laid back, playful and a bit romantic.

To start off, here are three go-to first dates should a girl you woo have available time to spend with you.

If she's free...

Weekday at Night
Key elements: Coffee and dessert, window shopping

Schedule to meet at 8:00pm because it is an ideal time after dinner, when most people have a few hours to spare before getting enough sleep for work the next day.

Rendezvous at a café in a fun area like the 3rd Street Promenade, Downtown Culver City, Westwood, The Grove or Rodeo Drive. Choose a non-chain store so the experience is more unique. Enjoy two cappuccinos and a shared coffee cake, which totals about $10.

After an hour, pay the bill and explore. Play the “window shop” game, which is free and allows you to get to know the other person. You start by taking turns selecting one object in each store’s window that you would like to own in a fantasy world and explain why you would want it. You’ll get some insight into her tastes, like if she chooses a Gucci handbag, she may be high maintenance. If she chooses, 5” heels, she probably likes to party and show off her legs. There is also a lot of ripe potential for playful teasing, which always puts a smile on her face.

Not only is a late night stroll refreshing, but it’s also intimate. On the first date, the goal is to get to know each other while sparking just enough romantic interest to warrant a more romantic second date.

By 10:00pm, you’ll probably want to retire, but if the night’s going well, you could offer going out for drinks.

Total cost $10 + $5 (parking) = $15

But lets say she’s free on a weekend afternoon… with only a few hours to spare before dinner…

Weekend in the Afternoon
Key elements: Beach bike ride and ice cream.

Meet at the 3rd Street Promenade and park in the free parking structure on 2nd and Colorado. Head to the pier and look for the bike rentals across from the volleyball courts. You could rent two regular beach bikes for $6 an hour, but it’s far more memorable and exciting to ride the giant adult tricycles for $8 an hour.

Biking is a great way to let loose that nervous energy one gets on a first date, and be more in the moment as you head south toward Venice, with the boardwalk on your left and the ocean on your right.

After an hour, you will both have earned a treat. Grab two ice creams, gelato or yogurts around the pier for about $8 and take a stroll. On the Promenade you can play the “window shop” game or enjoy the free entertainment: hip-hop dancers, musicians and other colorful acts. After 2-3 hours, the date will come to an end, but if you’re both still enjoying each other’s company, you could go shopping for food and cook dinner atyour place (which will be detailed in future posts)

If it’s too cold for a bike ride (which in LA, is rarely true) Go to the LACMA, MOCA or any cool museum. Walk around, and take turns analyzing modern art, which is easy to appreciate and/or ridicule.

Total cost: $16 (bikes) + $8 (ice cream)= $24

You don’t want to plan most first dates on a Friday or Saturday because those evenings are generally “party nights,” but if she really wants to see you…

Weekend at Night
Key elements: Bottle of wine, movie and a warm drink.

Meet at your place at 8:00pm for a bottle of wine, which should be a cold white because girls usually prefer white to red. You can buy a bottle for $6 at Trader Joes, and feel free to choose anything as long as it doesn’t say Charles Shaw (aka Cheapo). As you relax and drink, the purpose is not to “set the mood,” so avoid a music playlist with “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak or, my personal favorite, “Careless Whisper” by George Michael.

I like putting on something upbeat or instrumental like up-tempo flamenco, such as the “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” soundtrack, or Gotan Project, which is tango music infused with electronic beats.

Now that you both have a nice buzz, it’s time to watch a movie, a cinematic experience both entertaining and emotionally-gripping. If you’re driving, have no more than one glass of wine, but ideally you can walk to the local theater. Typically, two tickets cost upwards of $22, but with some foresight, you can buy two tickets for $15 at Costco or $13 at the UCLA (or any university) store.

Choose a film that’s light & fun, dramatic or a documentary. In this season, you have Oscar favorites like “Broken Embraces,” “Invictus,” or “Up in the Air” to choose from.

Enjoy the movie and afterward, if it’s going well, go out for tea or decaf coffee, and chat about the movie. Enjoy a stroll, and maybe plant one on her lips underneath the stars.

Total cost: $6 (wine)+ $13 (movie) + $5 (coffee) = $24.

Ideally, in all of the above situations, you should pick her up at her apartment so she can enjoy the ride.

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And there you have it!

In future posts we will cover more first dates, meeting women, the benefits of platonic friendships, building social communities, budgeting your time with play / work / dating, the best ways to follow-up after you get the number, online dating, and the principles of being a suave, assertive gentleman.

Ok men, you now have a game plan, so if you meet a girl you’d like to see again you have no excuse not to see her by night or day. Let these dating suggestions usher you in the right direction.

Until next week, gentlemen: be smooth, be real and enjoy the ladies that come into your lives.