Feature Article: Dating Dos and Don’ts
Dating Dos and Don’ts
Feature Article: Dating Dos and Don’ts
Dating Dos and Don’ts
Photographs by Chelsea Laine Francis
What’s the dating and nightlife scene like for singles in our city? We figured someone from the hive of Austin-based dating app, Bumble, would know. Alex Williamson, Bumble’s queen bee for all things social media, sat down for a chat at Ranch 616 with a representative of Austin’s XY factor, Lawrence Nourzad. We learned a list of dating dos and don’ts, some surprising recommendations on where to find that special someone and the best places to dance it out. Check out highlights from Alex and Lawrence’s Ranch 616 chat by clicking here.
How to Make the First Move
(and Stay in Your Own Skin)
By Alex Williamson
157 PEOPLE MOVE TO AUSTIN A DAY, ACCORDING TO THE U.S. CENSUS. As a single woman, that means the odds are ever in your favor. Despite the rapid population growth, this city has a small town feel. Everyone knows everyone, or knows someone who does. We pride ourselves in being forward-thinking and green, and it’s true – we do a lot of recycling in this city. But I’m not talking about trash; I’m talking about exes. One person’s trash is another person’s future love interest, and there’s two ways of looking at this. Firstly, when starting to date someone new, you’re almost guaranteed to run into the past. Maybe this feels awkward, or maybe this is a way to get through an uncomfortable situation head-on and see how you and your potential love interest handle the wild world of exes. Secondly, you can go on a first date with your background research locked and loaded. You’re guaranteed to know enough about a person to have heard a few stories before your first meet-up.
Sound incestuous? The good news is (and of course I’ll make an obvious plug here), our company, Bumble, is solving this. There are massive amounts of people to meet in Austin, but it’s hard to get outside of your circle to meet people. Maybe your next relationship doesn’t frequent the hot bar at Whole Foods or hot yoga at Wanderlust – maybe your future involves skeeball competitions at Scoot Inn, but how would you possibly get there if you don’t swipe your way out of your comfort zone?
My favorite part about being a woman dating in Austin is the incredible group of single women surrounding me. The women in this town are forces to be reckoned with; they are ambitious go-getters who think outside the box with big plans for their careers, and this often means that looking for relationships takes a back seat to satisfying their own needs. Sure, they date, and they have a lot of fun meeting people. But the women I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know aren’t going to be quick to settle because of societal pressures to be married by a certain age. Please! We live in this city because we are all too socially liberal for that way of thinking. And thank goodness – because if I’m speaking candidly (which I always do), there are plenty of commitment-phobic Peter Pans running around Austin. I think we all – men and women – want to make something of ourselves, so we are dating to find a potential teammate, and if we don’t find that, I think most people are happy to succeed alone.
We women pursue what we want, and if that’s a man, we are no longer afraid to make our intentions known and ask men out. Well, I do believe that we can blame Bumble for that, since we force women to make the first move! Dynamics are changing, and I think that shift is one of the coolest aspects of getting to date in this day and age.
Okay, so you see a babe at the Pistol Patio of Ranch 616. You send him a fire in the hole. The shots are down and the conversation starts to flow like tequila. What now? For starters, you make a date for Saturday. Again – you ask him out on a date for Saturday. Don’t bat your eyes, attempting to flirt your way into a plan: make the move. As someone who works for a dating app, I have this down to a science, so listen to my no-fail first-date plan. When you ask him out, say that you have dinner plans, but would love to meet up before. Maybe you don’t have dinner plans, but a white lie is always okay to prevent bruised egos if the date sucks. Go for a late afternoon walk down South Congress. Dress day-to-night. Keep it casual, but definitely have your makeup, hair and comfortable heels on, in case this date is a home run. If you have a dog, bring your dog. A dog is the quickest way to exit the scene of a failed date. If Jo’s Coffee or an iced tea from Snack Bar and a walk lead to successful conversation, you can stop in for a pre-dinner drink. I’d suggest Hotel San Jose or Perla’s for a cocktail. Here’s the move … if you aren’t having fun, there’s no shame in calling the night, as you already have plans for the evening. Drink your rosé and head home. If you’re having fun, cancel your “dinner plans,” grab an appetizer while you’re out, take Fido home and go to Justine’s for dinner. Split the pork chop and the bolognese (I’m obsessed), and then go somewhere with music – Antone’s, C-Boy’s Heart & Soul or even The White Horse. Where the rest of the night goes is totally up to you, and we always encourage embracing whatever makes you feel empowered. Personally, I’d recommend getting home before midnight, because when dating, I’m all for the chase. But if an afternoon date leads to the perfect night out and ends with breakfast tacos at Maudie’s, then hats off to you, sister.
The XY Perspective on Austin Dating
THE PICKENS ARE NOT SLIM IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, IN THE WAY OF DATING. Four of my closest pals are now off the market, possibly for life, after engaging in closing-time conversations with their now-significant others at Dogwood on West Sixth. You just never know in this town.
I moved back after college and had my doubts about the strength of the scene since Austin still vibes a small town feel. My daily routine consisted of work followed by a workout at the TownLake YMCA. I wasn’t giving myself a chance. Austin is replete with intellectual, ambitious women but if it’s no dice in connecting through mutual friends, the power lies in your routine. Take an uninteresting book to Houndstooth Coffee or grab a buddy and throw the Frisbee a little too far at Zilker. If you’re light on scouting hours, the ladies at Bumble have, naturally, created an app for that.
I decided to see what the buzz was about so I tried ye ole interweb. It’s the latest thing and I’ll admit the feature where the female has to kick off the conversation had me giddy. Boom! I had a match. I arranged a rendezvous on Footloose Friday at Barbarella, where I go when I need to cut a rug to Sir Hall and Sir Oates. With a darkly lit dance floor and the perfect crowd density for a quick round of “daiquiris” (code word my pals like to use to escape a social encounter gone awry), Barbarella makes for an ideal first-meet spot. If you seem compatible after the first round, you spin on into the dance room. This particular night, I was thrown off course when my date declined the vodka soda I’d ordered for her, and ducked my dance request. But she did debrief me on her rampant Crohn’s disease to the tune of Billy Ocean’s “Caribbean Queen.”
Now, if you’re confident you can make it through the break-the-ice conversation without a jaw-dropping overshare, think about going for a stroll through a food-trailer park. Maybe take the hounds down to the Greenbelt or, if you’re really looking to seal the deal, borrow a puppy from a trusting neighbor. At Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon on Sunday you can leverage the weird AND perform a weed-out routine; if she doesn’t bock-bock gawk at the sight of chicken shit bingo, go ahead and schedule outing number two.
If you’re merely in the prospecting phase, I’ll tell ya where I’ve seen the hungriest eyes in the 5-1-2: on the sample tour at Whole Foods at Sixth and Lamar. Maybe the best turnout of the 20s to 30s singles in town. Start in the back of the store sampling the cheeses and work your way up to the front. If you fancy someone who’s lingering in in front of the lettuce case, swoop in and woo her with a quick rundown on the benefits of kale and hopefully the two of you can take it to the patio.
I’ve heard only positives on after-work yoga, if it’s Shakti you seek. Nama-stay a little while and let the traffic simmer as put your confidence on display at Blue Honey or Black Swan. Even if your flexibility is on par with the Tin Man, your efforts will not go unnoticed and a quick pointer request regarding proper form is there when you’re looking for an instant in.
Austin sparkles during the daytime and an activity first date has never been easier to concoct. Meet at the rowing docks where you’ll rent two stand-up paddleboards. (Ill-advised are the two-seater kayaks as they’re just too intimate for a first date, in my opinion.) If you’re a fellow human, you know the nervous jitters that accompany the process, so pick an activity like a stroll at dusk where you can rely on people-watching to rally the conversation. If the light is still green after sundown, you’ll need to dine. Now, no matter how many prior years of preparation, on a first date I struggle with the food-to-fork-to-mouth function and my skill level hovers somewhere around toddler. From there I play head games with myself … “Am I over-chewing?” My solution to this self-conscious conundrum: go to Sway on South First. Modern Asian Fusion is the cuisine but the draw here is the seating: large square tables. You’ll likely sit cozily next to your date, alleviating your fear of eating-habit judgment, and once more, leverage the patrons across from you to spur along the conversation!
Austin seems to have become a dating amusement park, with rides and attractions for all. Step right up, and warmly embrace the weird, wide variety of active dating options. For those initial connections, remember to vary your migratory patterns. Pop your head into that open mic night at Spider House, seek to feel like “you’re out of your element, Donnie.” This way you ensure you’re casting all your lines around town and getting a feel for Austin’s many subcultures. In the words of our favorite Wedding Crasher: “Grab that net and catch that beautiful butterfly, pal!”
Read more from the Nightlife Issue | August 2016