Spring gets a lot of credit for being a relatively romantic time of year, which is fine, and makes enough sense. But really, when it comes to actually meeting people, there's no time like summer. People are out later, everyone's wearing less, more parties are thrown, etc. Which is all great, of course, but it also means navigating a lot more first dates than usual.
Which, when you think about it, is actually a pretty specific skill set! Classic options like movies or a trip to Coney Island become weird and loaded, because who really wants to spend multiple hours sitting in silence next to a person whose taste and reactions you don't really know, or trying to make small talk with a virtual stranger on a long, long train ride? Well, probably masochists who deserve each other. But regardless, there are other choices out there. We've got you.
Taco Tuesdays at Trophy Bar
Besides the fact that bars are generally a safe bet (and Trophy Bar is a particularly good one), this works on multiple levels. For one, weeknights are always better for a first date—committing your entire Friday or Saturday night to someone who may or may not actually be fun is a fairly big risk—and for another, Taco Tuesdays (which run from 6:00-11:30pm through September and are exactly what they sound like) solve the early date problem I've run into a lot, wherein you agree to meet at a bar, but aren't sure if you should plan on eating beforehand, and it becomes a whole thing where you find yourself either drinking on an empty stomach or forcing your date to eat while you watch (or vice versa), none of which is great. With cheap food you can eat with your hands, a solid mix of nicer cocktails and $3 beers, and close proximity to the J train if things go downhill quickly, Trophy Bar is about as safe a bet as you could possibly hope for.
Open Mic Nite (i.e. every night) at Goodbye Blue Monday
- Photo via Guest of a Guest
When it comes to ice breakers or easy conversation starters, there aren't a lot that work better than sipping wine while a wildly unpredictable rotation of bands, singer-songwriters, randos with ukeleles, and would-be stand-ups take to this tiny stage in short, back-to-back sets. Also, for a place with such an intentionally ramshackle vibe, Goodbye Blue Monday's mood lighting is surprisingly spot-on.
Nicholas Schenk House at Brooklyn Museum (followed by The Islands)
Granted, a Serious Museum Date may be best saved for later on—a first date isn't really the time to try to negotiate wildly different browsing paces, tastes, or policies re: running commentary and armchair criticism when consuming art. That said, the Nicholas Schenck house (along with the rest of the period rooms) at the Brooklyn Museum is pretty fun and low-stakes. You can keep strolling at a fairly steady clip, with plenty of opportune breaks to cram into the small viewing spaces together. None of which takes especially long, of course, meaning that if your date passes the crucial "do I want to move to a second location with this person" test, you can and should take a short walk over to The Islands for a relaxed dinner and that other
crucial test, whether or not this person likes Caribbean food.
Kurt Braunohler at the Bell House, 8/27
Assuming you both have similar taste (and like to laaaugh?
), so worth checking beforehand (and also worth maybe canceling altogether if your date seems to hate this idea). But other than serving as a solid litmus test, $15 is really a pretty low price for a show as packed with good acts as Braunohler's "record release" party
, which'll include appearances from Hannibal Burress, Eugene Mirman, and Ted Leo, among others. Actually, this is a pretty great date for just about any stage in any relationship. Just go.
Trivia Night at Cobra Club
- Photo via 3 Photographers/NYmag
Another solid ice breaker? Teamwork
. Specifically, casual teamwork that'll help you get to know the other person at an almost unnaturally rapid clip, and will in all likelihood end in free drinks for both of you. There are a lot of good trivia nights in Brooklyn, but for a laid back night where a team of two people isn't unheard of and you can also opt out and just enjoy each other's company if the spirit moves—all while avoiding large packs of hyper-intense, screaming regulars so many of these nights seem to invite—Cobra Club's Tuesday night trivia may be the best out there.
Browse Cheap Books and Records
Another one designed as a two or three part thing. Pawing through old records and books is fun pretty much no matter who you do it with, and if you do it at Williamsburg's Book Thug Nation, you'll have the added bonus of being surrounded by literally dozens of other good options. If we had to prescribe just a couple, we'd say to head over to Driggs, look through the bin of old family photos at Junk, then reward yourselves with drinks and/or a game of pool at the Abbey.
Kickstarter Film Festival, 8/3
- Photo via Two Trees Management/Brooklyn Based
I know I came down pretty hard earlier on movies as first dates, but this is a totally different game. For one thing, it's outdoors—in the brand new Havemeyer Park, to be specific—and not a lot of things are more romantic than sitting on a blanket sharing beers on a warm summer night. For another, admission is free, and Kickstarter's program is hugely varied and well put together, meaning there's bound to be at least one thing (probably a lot more) that each of you likes, and you won't have to sit for especially long stretches in attentive silence.
Save the cynicism. A soda fountain is an adorable
place for first date. Also a pretty cheap one, whether you're there for a full meal or sharing a couple of egg creams (maybe too soon to do the two-straws-in-one-cup thing, but that's your call). And sometimes, it's just a really nice change of pace to have date somewhere that isn't yet another bar. Not always, but sometimes.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.