Is your love life as slow to heat up as Vancouver temperatures this year? (Did we even have a spring?) There are certainly plenty of personals ads and dating services to choose from, and there's always the clubs and bars. But if you've tried those options and haven't met a match (or just aren't into them), perhaps it's time to try something different. Four Straight (some of them not-so-straight) writers set out to uncover less-obvious ways Vancouver singles can improve their chances of finding a date.
Here's what they found for women and men, both gay and straight.
What's a single-and-looking queer gal to do if the bar scene just doesn't inspire love or lust? For graphic designer and femme-about-town Terra Poirier, the answer is to just do what she loves. Over a vegetarian platter at the Addis Café on Commercial Drive, the feisty proprietor of RubyMedia says, "In your 30s, the best way to meet people is to be doing the things that interest you, and going to events, as opposed to going to the bar."
Aside from the women's nightclub Lick and ongoing events produced by Flygirl Productions and Fuck Off and Dance (a collective of East Vancouver party organizers), Poirier points out that there are all sorts of places that can facilitate the meeting of butches, femmes, nerd girls, and bois. The key, she says, "is to be open to people. I basically have to be open to meeting new friends if I'm going to be open to dating. It's so much better to, you know, 'do' a friend."
Rhizome Café (317 East Broadway) is the site of the beloved Board Games Are So Gay night, which starts taking place monthly starting on July 11 (hello, Settlers of Catan fanatics), but don't forget that Bingo for Life, held Wednesdays at the Majestic (1138 Davie Street), is also a daubing good time; there are prizes, and all proceeds go to Friends for Life.
For those who find uniforms and hand-eye coordination sexy, it's worth investigating the lesbian fast-pitch softball Mabel League (which also accepts trans players), as well as WESA, the West-End Slo-Pitch Association. Or check out curling, skiing, or ballroom dancing—just take a look at GayVancouver.Net for the full range of queer activities in the Lower Mainland.
And of course, save your energy for early August, when Pride festivities abound. Sadly, the Dyke March (August 2) and the Pride Parade (August 3) overlap with the Powell Street Festival, which showcases Japanese Canadian culture on August 2 and 3. A suggested itinerary is to parade in the early afternoon and then zip over to Oppenheimer Park where, if you're lucky, a muscled collective of taiko drummers will take the stage just after you've secured a dish of steaming takoyaki. (Lesbians love octopus balls. No kidding.)
But if you can't wait until then, never fear: the Vancouver Folk Music Festival—an event that entices even the sun to come out most years—takes place July 18 to 20. Affectionately known by many as the city's unofficial lesbian Pride, it boasts great music, recycled plates, and a host of earthy ladies in their summertime best. In some circles, this is a must-attend helicopter-dance party.
Lastly, keep in mind the parting words of the happily single and looking for friends-first Terra Poirier: "Do all those things, and in the meantime, keep your heart open and your nails trimmed."
> Shana Myara
For the single girl, summer is the absolute best time for scoping out gaggles of guys in all their glory. After months of being cooped up under fluorescent lights or sniffling outdoors under a drippy umbrella, it's time to embrace the sun.
The single guy is not as endangered a species as you might think. His natural summertime habitat, while varied, is predictable.
So, where are all the boys?
Truth is, they're everywhere. The question is, what kind of guy are you looking for?
Single girl and Vancouver newcomer Ethel Zammit has an effervescent social attitude, fit for any butterfly. Her advice? Stick with what you know and enjoy. "It's much easier to find something to begin a conversation [with] that way," she says. While winding her way through Vancouver's social scene, she's gravitated to one of her great loves.
As a film buff and a former volunteer at the Toronto International Film Festival, Zammit's greatest find to date has been the Celluloid Social Club, which presents independent short and feature films every month (www.celluloidsocialclub.com/). For the hipster hottie, this is the place to be: lots of cute guys, a respectable guy-girl ratio, plenty of guys on their own or in small groups, and—most importantly—a friendly and welcoming vibe.
Don't worry if you don't end up taking home any phone numbers (or anything else) from your outings. Sometimes it's enough just to be seen. With the proliferation of "I Saw You" ads, it's worth taking a peek at these listings after a night out.
Andrew Riley, public-relations manager for the Vancouver Art Gallery and the quasi-monthly FUSE event, says he notices a surge in these messages after each event. The post-FUSE messages indicate that a lot more than the artwork is being checked out at these events. If you're looking for a cultural catch, FUSE's next event, an all-night extravaganza, takes place next Thursday (June 26) from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
And if you're one to think of life as a walk in the park, then look for love there too. Ever notice how a guy seems all the more cute when he's walking a dog? That's because it implies that he's responsible (good), he thinks about something other than himself (better—no one likes a narcissistic hottie), and he's nurturing (best).
To meet the Animal Lover, try walking a dog yourself. If you don't have one, the B.C. SPCA has a dog-walking program called DogSense (www.spca.bc.ca/sheltering/DogSense.asp), where volunteers take dogs out for walks to help them socialize and engage in everyday activities in order to improve their adoptability and general well-being. So get some exercise (good), help out a dog in need (better), and take a shot at finding a really great guy (best).
> Catherine Tse
Hey guys, if you really want to break out of a dateless rut, you can't just hunker down in the air-conditioned indoors and watch CFL games on TV with your friends. The good news is that you won't have to give up sports—just the couch.
A diverse panel of women in their 20s and 30s gave me some tips for how single guys can meet eligible gals in Vancouver.
Taking in Whitecaps and Canadians games rated high with my female advisers. So did outdoor sports like softball, ultimate, beach volleyball, and kayaking. Even if you just stroll along Wreck, Jericho, Kits, or English Bay beaches; Crab Park; or the Stanley Park sea wall, you'll find plenty of opportunities to strike up a conversation.
But if you don't know how to break the ice with strangers, taking care of your baby niece or nephew can create an immediate conversation starter. Caring for an infant or toddler can not only camouflage personality defects, it'll also increase your sensitivity and nurturing skills. Hands-down, it'll revolutionize your dating life, my experts cooed.
Also, think about places where there's a female-to-male ratio that works in your favour. For instance, women outnumber men in most yoga classes. Yet, contrary to some male fantasies, women don't want to be hit on during a yoga session. Wait until you're outside the studio; moving in during a Sun Salutation or a Downward Dog is ill-advised.
If you're feeling shy, my insiders reassure you that there's always a latent demand for the aloof, nerdy type. The public library is a hot spot for meeting intelligent women.
Taking a class can also be a good move. How about a cooking class? Working on your culinary skills and expanding your cosmopolitanism will definitely improve your chances of getting a date, according to my advisers. Check out what's available at the Italian Cultural Centre (www.italianculturalcentre.ca/ ) or Vancouver Community College (www.vcc.bc.ca/ ).
Don't rule out politics. With civic, provincial, and federal election campaigns on the horizon, you'll meet dozens of like-minded people by volunteering.
In a notoriously cliquey city, patios are the best places for people watching. Or try restaurants with tables arranged in close proximity to each other, or that have communal benches—like Picnic, Coast, or Subeez—or seating at bars, like Guu and some Asian noodle houses.
Remember to think beyond your stomach—my experts recommend flashing a smile—and there may just be a date on the menu for you yet.
> Am Johal
What better time than summer to say goodbye to on-line chat-room buds in exchange for some more creative alternatives? Yet, as I found myself knee-deep in mud and climbing over logs while making my way to the gay section of Wreck Beach, I thought, "There must be a better way to meet people!" Bushwhacking through a pseudo-swamp seemed more like a setting for bad porn than meeting other singles. Where are all the single fags hiding?
They're busy playing with their balls, apparently—with the Vancouver Gay Volleyball Association, that is. The grass-volleyball season is set to start on June 25. If they're of the voyeuristic persuasion, perhaps they're busy cheering on friends who are already playing the field with groups such as the Out for Kicks Soccer Club or the West End Slo-Pitch Association.
"I have two friends who met at WESA and have been together for nine years now," says Peter Upton, who plays in the competitive league.
Bear watchers can check out the Pacific Northwest's gay campgrounds, such as Shadow Falls ( www.shadowfalls.ca/ ) and Rick 'n' Owen's ( www3.telus.net/public/kamprnos/ ). To meet and mingle with others in the outdoors, there's also Out & About Vancouver ( www.oavancouver.org/ ), a group dedicated to playing outside, with hiking, cycling, kayaking, and more.
For those who are more activist than athlete, it might be best to join a political group instead. "There are always homos in politics," says Brian Yuen, a 27-year-old single lawyer. Yuen also suggests forming a gay carpool group—make new friends and save the planet.
And with Vancouver's dwindling supply of gay clubs, one may need to seek out other types of clubs, like book clubs, square dancing groups, leather groups, or a choir, to name just a few. Flea markets and antiques fairs, such as the 21st Century Flea Market ( www.21cpromotions.com/ ), are also feygelah destinations.
An event to rival Pride in its queer attendance is the True Colors tour, which brings Cyndi Lauper to Deer Lake Park on July 2. Other gay-friendly concerts include George Michael (July 4) and Boy George (July 21).
And who says nice guys finish last? You can give back to the community and meet other like-minded individuals at the same time. Numerous organizations need volunteers. Major opportunities include Out on Screen's Vancouver Queer Film Festival (August 14 to 24) and, of course, all the festivities and events leading up to the Pride Parade (August 3).
By phone from Toronto, publicist Steven Carver suggests going to church to save my soul and single life. "All that sin is hot—the kneeling, the naked man on the cross”¦ And black is very slimming, isn't it, Father?" he quipped.
When in doubt, throw a party. Have your single friends invite their single friends, and let the games begin. Speaking of which, maybe a board-game night is in order. I'm already picturing a Twister–Spin the Bottle combination.
> Alan Woo