Dating. For some it’s a habit, a common occurrence. For others, dates come by so infrequently that they inspire more dread than excitement. Whether you’re a smooth player or an awkward penguin, it can be hard to figure out just what the other person is “trying to say” by inviting you on a certain type of date.
The most common date invites are to coffee, lunch, drinks or dinner, but they all have a different vibe. So, hopeless romantics step aside: it’s time to break it down.
PROS: Meeting up for coffee is casual and flexible. If your date is completely deranged, annoying, boring, rude (or any other undesirable adjective), a coffee date offers a quick escape – depending how fast you can gulp down your drink. But, if things go well, it’s easy to order another round, or suggest something to go do near the coffee shop before parting ways.
CONS: Sitting hunched on a squishy couch in a crowded coffee shop isn’t exactly what you’d call romantic… as my best friend Mary put it when we discussed the issue, “There’s no chemistry after a cappuccino”.
VERDICT: An invite to coffee is a good sign but not a great one. The other person is likely scoping you out and wants to keep things as casual as possible… for now. If you’re the one inviting, try avoid the most crowded branches of coffee chains. Or, for something more original and relaxed, try a cute, quirky place like Cafe Lavande in Central.
PROS: It’s a chance to get some real conversation going, without the dinner-time pressures of candlelight and other romantic couples swarming around you. It’s still casual and can even be squeezed in between work hours or appointments – giving a safe time window so that conversation won’t run dry.
CONS: If things go well, it’s still a little bit awkward to continue a date after lunch: suggesting to look for cocktails at 2pm might leave the wrong impression…
VERDICT: Congratulations! If you’ve been invited to lunch, the other person isn’t having an allergic reaction to the idea of spending more than half an hour sitting near you. Anything in the daytime is safely non-Romantic, so it’s a casual, enjoyable way to get to know someone better. A boutique cafe like Agnes B. in IFC offers fairly priced set menus in an elegant, trendy setting: casual, but with just enough polish.
PROS: Going out for evening drinks is (nearly) always fun!! It’s a chance to get dressed up, look hot and feel cosmopolitan. Perusing a cocktail menu together can offer some laughs, especially if raunchy drinks names like “Sex on the Beach” and “Slippery Nipple” are the kinds of things that make you giggle. Alcohol will wash away any nervousness within a drink or two, and once buzzed and passionately discussing each other’s star signs, or the meaning of life, dinner (or more) could be in the cards.
CONS: If you can’t hold your drink, or you go bright red after a glass of wine, a drinks date could spell disaster. And, it’s important to remember that most bars and clubs like to play the music really loud so that you’ll probably spend most of your time yelling in the other person’s ear.
VERDICT: If the venue is chosen wisely – good drinks and decent music at a decent volume – then a drinks date can be great. A bar like Lotus in Soho, or Wooloomooloo’s incredible Wan Chai rooftop bar are great places to break the ice. Enjoy the evening: lights are low and champagne bubbles are going to your head, so take this perfect opportunity to flirt a little and make amazing jokes all night long.
PROS: A lot can happen over the course of starters, mains and dessert… and that’s before you throw in a bottle of wine to the mix! Even if you run out of things to talk about, at least you can discuss the food! New restaurants are always popping up in HK, so a dinner date is a great way to discover new places (and people) at the same time. Like the drinks example, a chance to dress up and converse with low lighting never did anyone harm.
CONS: Dinner is the most formal date scenario out of all four, so unless you have a reasonable interest in the other person, it might not be the best fit. And, if you’re paying, it’s also the most expensive out of all four… oops! Worse, if the date is bad – then you’re looking at a minimum of about one hour before you’d be able to make a run for the hills.
VERDICT: Very few people would invite you to a one-on-one date if they weren’t interested in you (ok, excluding business dinners). Try choose a place that’s fun and interactive: sharing food is a great way to bond and show your dominance and prowess in who can snatch the good bits fastest. Try a tapas joint like Tapeo Tapas, or Mexican haunt Brick House, with taco platters and more to share.
I hope you enjoyed my attempt at demystifying some of the dating dilemmas that face urbanites in the modern city. I’m definitely in the ‘awkward penguin’ category of daters, and happily live a double-life of tragic spinster and femme fatale as I stumble from one awkward encounter to the next. 🙂
If all fails, don’t be afraid to take yourself out on a date… there’s enough great food and drink in Hong Kong to keep your calendar full all year long.
p.s. all drawings by me! 🙂
Click on the little pic here <—– to check out a recent event I went to in Causeway Bay: Taste of Malaysia @ Wellcome Supermarket.