Almost 8 years ago I was a 25-year-old bushy tailed young guy amongst the city of Chicago nightlife insanity. Positioned as an entry-level candidate amid the multitude of junior associates and senior level professionals I had to figure out a way to stand out in the date scene pecking order. Coincidentally, my weekends were filled with adventuring to new parts of the city on a mission to find foods less discovered, bars rarely entered and interesting places to learn something new. Dragging my friends, sometimes unknowingly, along for the ride was common place as they coined these long-winded excursions as “Neal Adventures”. After honing my skills I realized that by geographically and timely combining bars, restaurants and cool places at the perfect moments it would create unforgettable good times due to a parlay effect making 1+1+1 > 3.
It took me some time to understand that I could use this approach to planning dates with the “lucky ladies” I met. Not only was this way more fun than blandly staring at each other in a restaurant but opened up a world of adventuring with my dates. On top of that, being of the younger persuasion without the deepest pockets these good times could be less expensive because I’d wind happy hours with free visits to galleries, museums, or parks with quick bites at walk up windows or stands. Think the date scene from Good Will Hunting between Matt Damon and Minnie Driver and you’ll get my drift.
I would plan these dates at my work desk and write the stops on a Post It note with their addresses, phone numbers, what times to arrive and how long it would take to walk to the next location. Now that I’ve settled in LA I figured why not create the digital representation of these Post It notes and share them with everyone to enjoy and experience their city in a whole new way, with an agenda, without a need to plan, with just the need to do.
Dates can be tricky, especially the first one. Now I am no expert on the theories of dating however I feel as though I have a solid grasp on experiencing. That’s what dates should be about, an unforgettable experience. When I say focusing on the experience it not only means physically: where to sit, who gets the view, what to order, or how to behave but there's also an equally if not more important thing in the mix: the feeling.
Think about it. When and where is the rising action? When and how does the vibe slow down? When does it speed up? Is the person you brought disconnected? Are they excited about something? These are the moments to grasp on to or to direct away from. As the person in charge of the date this is your moment. In charge of when to move to your next location. In charge of when it’s time to order another round or grab the bill. In charge of whether the vibe isn’t right and if it’s time for a change of scenery, conversation, or mood. The feeling is where every decision should be made from in order to progress the date from the opening scene, through the rising and falling action of the evening and up until the climax (...even afterwards). I could write a dissertation on this stuff but for now just head on a date and pay attention to the feeling of it. When it doesn't or does feel right, it's time to adjust. Don't worry about the decision making, Ive got that covered.
Here are 5 dates that are great to start out with, and remember always, under all circumstances, have fun! If you have any questions please feel free to email me Neal@datethecity.com.
Take a cruise along the boardwalk before getting your toes sandy on the beach. Have a laugh as you peruse past the artists, weirdos, skaters, surfers and finally the muscle men. You turn left for tacos at Venice Blvd just in time for the ½ off martini happy hour and the best mahi mahi tacos in town at James Beach. When you’ve had your fill head a few blocks north to Windward Ave to secure your spot in the basement of Townhouse for the Underground Comedy Show. If you’ve got more steam at the end stick around for the amazing Burlesque Bombshells.
Indulge on the most classic bites and cocktails in a bar that dates back to 1908 during the all night happy hour at Coles French Dip. After you’ve had a cocktail or two head over to the Last Bookstore to get lost in their upstairs book maze before picking out a vinyl record. With new tunes in hand head over to Bernadette’s to join the Record Club LA. Unwrap that new record and give it to the DJ to play a song or two from it. In exchange for your jams you’ll get a drink ticket and a look into the future as you enjoy your future wedding song.
First, you’re going to pretend this stretch of Los Feliz is a small Italian village, ripe for a good time, where everybody knows your name. Meet at the absolutely adorable and absolutely under rated Big Bar for a European style apertivo. Think negronis or Campari spritzers. Enjoy in the front garden before heading over to Lou’s Wine Shop for a full on wine tasting. Fancy one of the wines? Grab a bottle for your next stop La Pergoletta, a strip mall joint pumping out some of the best hand made pasta in the city.
If meeting during the day is your thing this one’s for you. Post up at the brunch and biking joint Spoke Bicycle Café and grind on some healthy bites before renting a tandem bike for the afternoon. The first stop on your journey is the Frogtown Brewery for a village namesake brew. With a little liquid courage in tow cruise to the local pop icon the Glasselland Sign for some Insta glory.. Afterwards cruise a few blocks to Verdugo Bar to polish off a final pint on the classic back patio.
Ascend together to the tallest bar in the Western Hemisphere at Spire 73 to get a windswept cocktail above to city. After one drink head over to the Freehand Hotel to watch the sunset with Latino apps, a perfect cocktail and super laid back vibes. After the skyline lights turn on and the crowds pour in it’ll mark your time to cruise to the roof of the Ace Hotel to chill out on some mellow tunes (and maybe a show).