Another night another boy-meets-girl meat market to contend with – this is the sad state of the dating scene for men all over the country trying to meet women. Guys that flash the cash or work the room are the ones that end up with the girls. What’s a normal guy to do? Although you could theoretically rack up a ton of credit card debt to finance a few evenings out meeting women, we strongly recommend you take a more sophisticated approach and learn the art of “party presence.” It works in any social situation, but can really give you an extra amount of edge in those scenes filled with a lot of people, where few people know each other (i.e., your local happy-hour hot spot).
Let’s start by assessing your playing ground. When you walk in, there’s going to be a bar (probably very crowded) and some tables (where people are getting settled into their little clique for the evening). As you enter, take a minute to stand at a vantage point and look for a few things:
• Find a line up: This is a group of related people/friends/co-workers all sitting in a line at the bar. They’re on stools, but they’re talking to each other in a line. This is going to be a good spot to squeeze over the bar and get your order in. Don’t crash into the middle of their group… pick an end. As you get there, introduce yourself. “Hi, I’m Jim, excuse me invading your space. Just gonna get my order in and I’ll be out of your way.” It may seem unnecessary, but the extra courtesy can buy you a save in the form of a cut-in if the bar gets really crowded later.
• Spot the Walkways: In any crowded scene there’s always a strange corridor that seems to form where everyone that’s walking is in the same place. Avoid this walkway like the plague. You’ll get bumped, nudged and displaced all night, highly increasing the likelihood of spilling your drink on someone or constantly having your conversation interrupted. Steer clear of stairways, the area by the service bar, space near restrooms and doorways.
• A Bar Buddy: When you do get to the bar, ask the bartender his/her name (or notice her nametag), and commit it to memory. Open a tab. This helps your bartender keep things moving behind the bar. Ask that they keep an eye out for you and tell them the name on your card. “Hey Elena, I’m Danny. Keep an eye out for me if you can. I’ll be here for a while. Tab is under Ramirez. Thanks.” This way, you can catch their attention from a few feet away (this is where knowing a name comes in handy) and they can start making your round as you make your way to the bar. It’s a great way to give the impression that you own the place, even if you don’t.
• The Loud Crowd: The only reason you want to find these people is to stay away from them. The guys all pumped up to watch the game or the girls out celebrating a birthday are not interested in your company and they are just going to make life difficult. They’re oblivious to polite “excuse me’s” and they burst out into annoying shouts, giggles or screams every 10 seconds. You won’t make any progress with them around.