First of all let’s clear this up. Just because I occasionally venture to a bar alone does not mean that I am sad and lonely in Chicago. In fact, I am the opposite. I’m 30, flirty and thriving. I just feel that this is a commonly misconstrued activity. It also does not under any circumstances mean that I am looking to meet strangers and end up on the cover of Law and Order: SVU the magazine. I am not. Although, I would be SUCH a good SVU extra on the show.
Going to bars alone. It can be done. I have done it, more than once and with much success. However, I’m not saying there aren’t rules. There are. Neglect them and you might find yourself on the cover of that magazine.
1. No one knows you are alone but you.
Do you know how crowded bars are? Have you seen the weeping Fire Marshals? Exactly, you haven’t seen them, because there are so many people in there blocking your view. No one really knows who you are with and what’s even better, they don’t really care.
You are free to come and go as you please. You can weave through the weeping Fire Marshals without keeping track of your posse. That isn’t to say that having a posse isn’t welcome at times. Posses are great. But the last time I checked this blog was titled ‘Going to Bars Alone’ not ‘Kicking it at a Bar With a Posse’. Newsflash, any two bit yahoo can kick it a bar with a posse and you my friend are not a two bit yahoo.
Number 1 is much less a rule and much more a state of mind that you must maintain in order to succeed on your solo flight around the world. You must realize this isn’t insane. If you replaced the word bar with the word Starbucks, you would be there in a second. Get over yourself and just go.
2. Choose wisely
Choose wisely in multiple areas. You are going alone. That doesn’t mean you are going unprepared.
Decision #1: Choosing the bar.
I would suggest choosing a bar that you have been to before. A bar with great tunes and good drinks. A place that it will be acceptable for you to sit at the bar and look pensive or not pensive depending on how you plan to play this. A place that you can blend or kill it on the dance floor. It’s your choice. If the people outside the bar painted their clothes on, don’t choose that place. If the people outside the bar wear Abercrombie, Hollister, Ed Hardy, men’s bedazzled jeans or multiple chain necklaces, don’t choose that place either. More than likely these are the same place.
Your best choice is a place with live music or loud music for dancing. These things help you make friends and help you pretend you can’t hear someone you don’t want to talk to due to the volume.
Decision #2: Choosing your spot
Upon your arrival, go to the bar, get a drink. Befriend the bartender, if someone is bothering you (which they might be, you probably look kind of awesome) the bartender could be a lifesaver. They can deflect or initiate conversation. They are and want to be your friend. Kind of, they just want you to tip them well. Which you should do, even if you aren’t alone.
Now, scan the premises. Are there bar stools? Is there a dance floor? Is this a restaurant? Is this a Chilis? If you answered yes to the last question, eat some chips and salsa and then bounce.
You need to find a place that you can get your lean on. Places not to choose: by the bathroom, by the front door, by stairs, next to a speaker. I don’t know why you can’t stand by stairs, it just seemed weird. The most choice of spots to pick would be end of the bar. If you can sit or lean there, claim it.
Everyone in that entire place is going to come to the bar, which means you will meet more friends, it’s just science. And this is really all about science.
Decision #3: What is your story/out?
Ideally, you will meet a really great dude/lady/new posse to kick it at bars with and become BFFs with. But you might not. You might just meet people to hang out with for the night and that’s okay! But you might meet Mr. “I graduated 2nd in my class and I have a HUGE chip on my shoulder about it” and that guy is the worst. So you need to have a prepared story to get you out of talking to him/her. Cinco de Mayo 2011, or more appropriately called Cinco de Kate, I actually told someone I was leaving to go home because I had to go to a baby shower early in the morning. I didn’t say it had to be a good story.
You need to have a story or you can just tell them you have diarrhea. No one is going to argue with diarrhea.
3. Get Chatty
While I’m quite certain you look so cute, you didn’t really think you could rely on your new earrings to get you through the evening, did you? You have to make friends. Get your smile on and make some conversation. If you are rocking some new earrings you might even get a drink purchased for you. Sitting/leaning near the bar has its advantages. During the getting chatty stage of the evening The Drink Purchase is the Uno Wild Card of the Going to Bars Alone deck of cards. Bottom line, it rules. In case you are new to this world, or my father fearing for my safety, take the drink directly from the bartender. Nothing gets you kidnapped faster than your drink getting tampered with. Play it smart.
You might find yourself falling into the pit of despair with “I graduated 2nd in my class and I have a HUGE chip on my shoulder about it”. This has happened to me. Mr. IG2IMCAIHAHCOMSAI was just talking my ear off about how this bar was his jam spot and he went there all the time, at which point I made eye contact with the bartender, whom I know, and laughed. I FINALLY got out of that conversation and the bartender laughed at how he tried to claim the bar for his own. Fun fact, I go there all the time sir and I have never seen you before in my life. Nice try. The bartender agreed.
Even if you do have to talk to the most curious of humans, with the least curious of lives, it should make for a fun story to tell your blog readers about.
4. Leave as You Came
You didn’t come to this bar with a stranger, so don’t leave with one. If CSI, Law and Order, Criminal Minds and every other crime drama have taught me one thing, it’s that strangers want to murder you. I’m certain that you did not go to this bar to end up murdered. Don’t leave with a potential murderer. Who is a potential murderer? Everyone.
5. Moral of the Story
I’m not saying this is your game plan every night. It certainly is not mine. What I am telling you is that you can have fun by yourself. You can infiltrate a group of strangers and hang out with them. These things are attainable. 90% of your hesitancy to venture out on your own is perceived fear. I calculated it. That’s accurate. So I implore you to give this at least one try.
You won’t regret it. Well you might, but I’m here to broaden your horizons.
I have to go, I have a baby shower in the morning.