Either I Have Two Heads, or I’m a Loser. Either Way, I got Social on the Northside!

27 Oct

“Plllleassse come out with me!”  Emily begged.  I shot her a look of death.  I was sitting in my dorm room, in my pjs, with crumpled-up tissues surrounding me.  A cup of Thera-flu glued to my hand.  “You cannot be serious?” I asked.  “But I want to go to the Cellar!” she whined.  I locked eyes with her and proceeded to sneeze four times in a row.  She looked at me and scowled.  “Go by yourself, Emily.  That place will be crawling with people.  You’ll have a great time.”  She looked at me as if I had two heads.  “Go ALONE?!” she shrieked.  “Only losers go anywhere alone!”

This past Sunday, I saw a flyer for a blind wine tasting that was taking place later that evening at one of my favorite spots in Arlington, Northside Social.  Northside Social is this laid back coffee & wine bar that also serves as an art gallery for local artists.  Its’ wines are fabulous and its’ coffee even more so!  I was telling my Mama about it and she interrupted me, asking which date I was taking with me.  “No date,” I said.  “Well, which friend is going?”  “No friend,” I replied.  “Who is going with you, Rita?”  “No one!”  I looked at her.  She was looking at me like I had two heads.

Northside Social; Arlington

While I was looking forward to it, I now had a different reason behind my visit to Northside Social that evening.  I was on a mission to prove that it is entirely possible to go somewhere, completely alone, and have just as a great of a time – if not more so – as if you went with friends.  I wrote about this back in April but, I’ll be completely honest, after a few months surrounded by my friends, members of Singles in the Suburbs and, of course, 35 dates, I had lost sight of how great “going it alone” can be at times.

Blind Tasting; Part 1

I walked upstairs to the wine bar and realized that I was the first one there.  A few people trickled in behind me and I smiled, but they just sat down and started talking to those in their “group” or texting on their phones.  I had a bad feeling that this wasn’t going to pan out the way I wanted.   But at least I was going to learn how to identify wines by taste and smell alone.   So, in my book, I was a winner.

My winner; Part 1

As we sat there, waiting for the Sommelier, Alison Christ, to start explaining the fundamentals of wine, a woman, two people to my right, started talking about a wine course she was taking.  The woman next to her engaged in that conversation and I found myself eavesdropping.  I looked around.  The attendees were all engaged in conversations.  I could either sit there, silently and alone, or cause interaction to happen.  So I turned to my right and chimed into the conversation.

Blind Tasting; Part 2

Shortly thereafter, the class began.  By Round 2 of the blind tasting, I had discovered that, among other things, the woman two people down, Bonnie, is a photographer for GregsListDC (a site dedicated to highlighting DC’s social scene).  The woman next to her, Jenny, is a food blogger for her own successful site, “Eat with Pleasure.”  We are all single.  Between writing, photography, our love of DC events and our experiences in the DC dating scene, it was hard for us to stay focused on the tasting!

Winner, Part 2

By the end of the evening, not only had we learned how to identify the varietal, country and age of a wine based on sight, nose and palate, but we had instantaneous dinner partners for a post-tasting dinner in the coffee bar downstairs.  We exchanged information and even made a “date” to go see a documentary in a few weeks at E Street Cinema.

The next day, I thought back on the evening and how, had I been there with friends, or a date, the evening wouldn’t have been the same.  Sure, I would have engaged in pleasantries with the girls next to me but, let’s be honest, we tend to default to the people with whom we attend an activity.  The level of conversation wouldn’t have been the same.  Chances are we wouldn’t have eaten dinner together.  Or made plans to see a documentary.  I would have missed out on making two new friends.

I realize that attending events on your own, and approaching people, isn’t the easiest thing to do.  My friend Keely says I have an unfair advantage due to my years of running Singles in the Suburbs.  And I don’t dispute that.  But it still isn’t easy for me and, over the years, I’ve learned a few tips that make it easier.

1.  Go to a place or event that you WANT to see/experience.  If all else “fails” you’ve done something you want to do!

2.  Let the staff know you are “solo.”  Often times, they’ll make extra efforts to introduce you to other staff or patrons.

3.  Make eye contact and smile!

4.  Be approachable.  Put away your phones!!  Put down your book or newspaper!  Pay attention to what’s going on around you!

5.  Do not be afraid to initiate conversation.  People won’t necessarily seek you out.  YOU need to make an effort!

6.  Always assume you are the least intelligent person in the room.*

*In his post, “How to be the Smartest Person on the Planet,” James Altucher explains that, by assuming you are the dumbest in the room, you’ll pay attention to all that is being said.  And you’ll learn at least one thing from each encounter.  And by learning, you become the smartest person in the room. 

By employing these tactics on a solo outing, you open yourself up to encounters that you wouldn’t otherwise experience!

New Friends

You Need A Rita!

This outing has inspired me to have my own “solo” outing at least once a week.  And report it back to all of you.  I’ll be rating where I go, based on factors that contribute to its’ “single-ability.”  That is, by the end of my outing, did I feel welcome, have fun, learn something new, make new friends?  Or, was I uncomfortable, the staff ignored me, other patrons/attendees were rude/unapproachable, (understanding that I need to, at all times, employ the 6 techniques I list above).

I’ll rate each venue/event on a scale of 1-5 “Ritas” (with 5 Ritas being a fantastic “solo social scene!”   Look for these under the category “You Can Go Solo!”  Let’s find the most “single friendly” places and share them – so that we can all “Get Up, Get Out and Do Something!

“SINGLE-ABILITY” of NorthSide Social:  4 RITAS!
You Can Go Solo!

Staff – Welcoming

Patrons –  Highly approachable

Activities – Plentiful

Atmosphere – Able to linger for hours

Single-ability rated on a scale of 1-5, with 1 Rita being the least “solo friendly social scene”


3 Responses to “Either I Have Two Heads, or I’m a Loser. Either Way, I got Social on the Northside!”

  1. Marlene October 27, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    I usually go to most things by myself. I meet more people that way. If someone doesn’t want to talk then I talk to the next person. Good for you! All I do is just say, Hi, I’m Marlene…” and then, “What brings you to this tonight?” I work on finding a commonality by asking some questions.. I always find a commonality and if I don’t I ask questions to learn about them. One guy told me all about his real estate business and it was fascinating.

  2. Jenny Holm November 29, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Rita, I left for Ukraine in a rush and completely missed this (and the Elmo Man documentary–did you see it?! I was gone the whole week it was there šŸ˜¦ I’m really enjoying your blog! Will be a loyal reader.


  1. Rita’s Weekend Preview « Rita's Quest - January 12, 2012

    […] a good book.Ā  If hot chocolate isn’t what you are in the mood for, just head upstairs to the wine bar where you’ll find wine tastings, fabulous wine flights, delicious cheese plates and much […]

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