Friday, January 25, 2008

Dating in Beijing (4): where to go to meet people

Anywhere! Anywhere at all - just don't mope at home or spend all your time in the office. Get out and about.

Anything more specific to recommend?

Oh, all right then.

Suggested Ways To Meet Potential Dates In Beijing

1) Networking parties. No, really. They're great for getting you over any shyness you may sometimes feel about introducing yourself to strangers because that is their entire raison d'etre: everyone has gone there to introduce themselves to strangers. Alas, there aren't as many of the more purely social ones as there used to be. The always good-for-a-laugh Young Professionals' Happy Hour withered and died quite some time ago, and Oriented has been a bit shit for the past couple of years (they're tending to get stuck in long 'residencies' in one venue rather trying somewhere different every month as they used to; and terrible venues, too!). However, a lot of the Western hotel bars have 'happy hours', 'ladies nights' and other special promotions which are much the same. And even the rather staid and serious speaker events organised by national chambers of commerce or the major university alumni groups (I subscribe to the Club Canada newsletter on the very tenuous basis that I was once quasi-affiliated to the University of Toronto for a year; there's a lot of good stuff on that ) are still good mixers: I'm sure most (unattached) people who attend these would be open to meeting a possible date; and a good proportion of them have probably gone primarily or solely with that purpose in mind.

2) More alcoholic 'networking' opportunities. Charity parties, 'soft openings' for new clubs or restaurants, wine tastings - that kind of thing. You might be slightly more reserved about introducing yourself to strangers without a 'business' pretext - but they won't be. And after a few drinks, neither will you.

3) Music bars. Of course, it helps if you really like music. I asked a woman to come to the old Yugong Yishan rock club with me once. She said yes, but it turned out she was only trying to humour me, and didn't really like anything other than cocktail jazz; SUBS were not her thing at all (I am considering a new series of posts called Great Dating Disasters). I happen to love live music (of many different kinds: classical, jazz, Chinese folk, blues, rock, pop). And Beijing's music bars happen to be some of the nicest, cosiest, most characterful (not to mention being also among the cheapest) bars in the city. And I figure that anyone I meet at a gig is likely to have a lot in common with me - she likes this bar or this band or this kind of music or the kind of people that come to events like this. And you do have a readymade opportunity to suggest a date!

4) Networks of friends. I am a fuddy-duddy, a curmudgeon, a git. I am a pauper. I am a hermit. I am past my prime, and sulking about it. It takes a carefully-harnessed team of wild horses to get me anywhere near Sanlitun. Fortunately, I have a lot of young, bright, fashionable, sociable, and slightly more prosperous friends (with good wild-horse-wrangling skills) who occasionally chivvy me into going to bars and restaurants that I wouldn't normally bother with, and thereby introduce me to new circles of acquaintances with whom I might otherwise never intersect. Networking is everything in China, in business and in social life: I would say you are most likely to meet someone romantically interesting to you through a friend, or a friend of a friend.

5) Activities. This tip is just a more general example of point 3), that it's good to be drawn together by a common enthusiasm. If you're not the kind of person who likes to hang out in bars a lot, or at least not on your own (and, contrary to the impression I might sometimes give on this blog, I'm not), and you can't rely on your friends to broaden your social reach, then joining a club or going to some kind of special event is a great way to meet people. I know a number of people who've hooked up with each other through the Hash running club (although that's always seemed just a bit too cliquey for me). And I've met a few people through the Chinese Culture Club (not a Boy George tribute band!). And I've dated people I met through chatting at the Cherry Lane movie club. Whatever your interests - mountain-biking, tennis, acting, yoga, writing - there is almost certainly a club or forum or social evening somewhere in Beijing dedicated to it; just check out the listings magazines.

6) The Bookworm. Ah, The Worm - surely the No. 1 pick-up place in Beijing! It combines a mellow ambience, a central location, good wi-fi, an intellectual atmosphere.... and a library. But it's actually a bar - I love that concept. And they have some great speaker meetings and other events there too. And all these fine qualities do seem to attract gorgeous women in droves. Very few of them are single, alas - but a man can dream.

I think that's about it for me. I know some people swear by a trendy restaurant, or Starbuck's, or the gym as ideal venues for serendipitous encounters, and they may be right; but I've never been into 'trendy' anything, or expensive coffee, or working out in the gym; and I'm too much of a stick-in-the-mud to revise these habits just to meet more women. I meet plenty of women as it is. I just seem to have forgotten how to chat them up effectively. I'm really kind of hoping that someone will make the preliminary graft easier for me by falling in love with me because I made her laugh on this blog. Some hope?


Tulsa said...

Networking parties are excellent. to meet interesting potential friends and potential more-than-friends.

and there's a networking party for every interest! which very much narrows down the pool to people with whom you share something.

and when it comes to meeting friends of friends... well, again, it's networking, isn't it?

so taking away the big bad intimidating word "networking" (yeah, not to me, but some ppl get intimidated by the term) what you're left with is "go out and live your life, do the things you like to do, spend time with ppl you like to spend time with, and keep meeting the people you find around you"

yah, just go up and say hello. you don't even have to play the "haaaave you met Froog?" game with your trusty tag-a-long going-out friend.

okay. all that said, I want to come back to something you mentioned in one of these posts about the difficulties of getting time alone with these uber-interesting ppl whom you are meeting, or at least enough time for something more to develop. This is really really hard. I'd say, more than meeting the person of your dreams, getting time alone to connect and let it develop is really the challenge. We're all way to social in really large groups and just don't take time out to focus one-on-one attention often enough. Some people just don't realize it and then wonder why they never manage to connect at a deeper level with anyone.

Others realize it and do it on purpose. They're just not into forming deeper, get to the next step, relationships.

for those of you out there who don't realize... Wise Up, please.

Froog said...

It's like being a cheetah trying to pick off the stray antelope. I'm just not a very good cheetah.

15 months of failing to Madame X on her own (more than a handful of times). Miserable.

Tulsa said...

well, don't be too miserable. it isn't just you. it's very much this scene (i say that without discounting that the problem may exist in other scenes in other cities...)

I've had my fair share of "met really interesting person" but neither of us manage to be available for one-on-one "let's see if we can't develop this into something more" time at quite the same time. Getting your and your potential's schedule in sync is definitely challenging.

Then there's the time's when I could meet up for one-on-one but the other person suggests something like "Sanlitun" or "Block 8" and suddenly I'm just not that interested anymore and find that I really must turn down the invite because I'm very very busy doing my laundry.

Froog said...

Punters at The Bookworm have obviously been having difficulty working out the operation of its increasingly rickety folding outer door, because we are now greeted on arrival by a little notice saying "Pull Here".

As if we needed any further encouragement....