Don’t let your pre-conceived notions get in the way: bowling makes for an excellent date. What other sport allows you to drink or smoke at the same time? Bowling alleys have made efforts to defy the stereotypes of old men in matching shirts and rental shoes with questionable sanitation. Many of them have started marketing themselves to a younger, hipper crowd with DJs and better bars.
Can’t get past the Big Lebowski atmosphere? Mini-golf, go-karts, laser tag, ice skating or rollerskating also work.
Why In The World Would I Want To Do this?
Bowling is an example of an Action Date; dates focused around an entertaining physical activity, with a little hint of happy childhood and nostalgia thrown in for good measure. The physical activity gets the endorphins flowing and helps put you in a good mood, instead of sitting awkwardly across from each other trying to figure out what you’re going to ask next or worrying that you’re giving the impression that you’re too interested. The friendly competition (it is friendly, right?) encourages teasing and playful shit-talking – there’s nothing quite as arousing as rivalry, after all – and actual skill is optional. In fact, it’s even better if both of you aren’t very good; you can both laugh at how awful you are. If one of you is better than the other, you can turn it into a flirty, teaching moment. But for God’s sake do not talk down or condescend to your date. That is the anti-sex.
Want to make things even more interesting? Add a small wager to the game. It could be as simple as who pays for the drinks to something more spicy if the chemistry’s there. The competitive aspect is even more fun when there’s a prize on the line. Just remember that the goal is fun; that old childhood adage of not being a sore loser goes double here.
#2) Museums, Art Nights and Galleries
Nothing makes a first date stand out like a little culture. But don’t think you’re limited to standing around looking at abstract paintings trying to think of something to say besides “You can really see the artists’ intensity in the brush-strokes/spatter/welding patterns.” Seek out the science museums or the quirky, offbeat galleries; go to a children’s museum and enjoy a second childhood or wander through the natural history museum and wonder at the dinosaurs like you were six again. Even more traditional museums can have interesting, out-of-the-ordinary exhibitions. Every October, the McNay in San Antonio holds an exhibit on The Nightmare Before Christmas while the Museum of Modern Art in New York City has held retrospectives on the works of Hayao Miyazaki and Pixar.
Why In The World Would I Want to Do This?
Like I said about cooking dates: you’ll be getting instant points for having some class. Being able to appreciate art – even if you think most modern art is a hoax perpetuated on the public at large by a hipster conspiracy trying to justify having paid for art school – is a sign of having an internal life and some intellectual curiosity as well as being able to appreciate the wonder of creativity.
The non-standard museums, whether it’s the Smithsonian, the Museum of Natural History or the Museum of Sex will be unique experiences while the exhibits will spur conversation beyond the same Ten Questions You Ask On Every Date. And importantly, the quirkier the museum, the more you can let your playful side emerge. You’ll get some harsh glares if you’re cracking jokes in the Impressionists wing of the Met, but nobody’s going to look twice at the Museum of Pop Culture if the two of you are acting like a pair of goofballs.
#1) Dancing Lessons
Dancing is an incredibly important skill for guys to cultivate. Almost every woman I’ve ever known has loved to go dancing. But what if you’re not the clubbing kind? What if you not only have two left feet, but they were put on backwards? What if you’re allergic to Nicki Minaj, autotuning and Pitbull remixes?
That’s when you and your date find a dance class! Almost every dance school has open classes or social dance parties. Skill level and experience are completely unimportant; in fact, most of these will be focused on teaching you the basics and working your way up from there. The atmosphere is open and friendly and certain nights will be specialty nights. Ever wanted to learn to salsa? Waltz? Swing? Bring your date and let it be an adventure for the two of you.
Why In The World Would I Want to Do This?
This is another excellent example of the Action Date. The physical activity sets the mood; suddenly you’re not just a couple awkwardly fumbling your way through a first date, you’re Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers tripping the light fantastic (and occasionally each other’s feet). Once again, this is an excellent shared experience.
And as a bonus… well, there’s the physical contact too. Dancing encourages – even requires – that you get up close and personal with your partner. You going to be touching each other and communicating through your bodies as much as through your words. In fact, depending on the dance, you’re going to be having to share some personal space with your date; swing dancing with its turns and dips, ballroom dancing with its promenades… you’re going to be wrapping yourselves in each other’s arms repeatedly over the course of an evening. Latin dancing is especially sexually charged; you’ll be doing a great deal of the work with your hips with suggestive swivels and wiggles.
It gives the man an opportunity to show confidence and leadership and the lady a chance to show off her natural grace. More importantly however, is that you’ll be having to learn to move as one, reading each other’s body language and responding in a smooth and graceful fashion. You’ll be clumsy at first; she won’t know how to follow and you may have a too-soft lead. But there will be that magic moment when it all clicks; you’re not counting the tempo any more – you’re just gliding along in perfect harmony. And then the two of you will look into each other’s eyes and realize…
This is the best first date that you’ve ever had.