Single and Looking? Bartenders Have Some Advice
No one witnesses more pick-up attempts than those working behind the bar. Find out what works and what doesn't, from some of Ferndale's own bartenders.
Ferndale's wide variety of bars and clubs within walking distance makes an ideal setting for barhopping and meeting new people. From sports bars to indie rock joints, from dive bars to swanky nightclubs, the intersection of Nine Mile Road and Woodward Avenue is a veritable X-marks-the-spot for anyone on the lookout for a summer romance.
Male or female, straight or gay or lesbian or bi or transgendered or whatever — if you’re single, chances are you’ve tried the bar scene. It can be frustrating. If you’re with a large group of friends, others may have a hard time approaching you. But if you go it alone, you risk looking creepy or desperate, and will likely attract only the same—if any at all.
Let's face it: trying to meet someone at a bar can feel completely ridiculous and awkward. How do you show interest without showing too much interest? How do you find someone who’s looking for whatever it is you’re looking for?
I went to three of Ferndale’s hippest bars, The Loving Touch, The Bosco, and SOHO, to ask bartenders their thoughts on the subject. After all, no one’s seen it all more than the dispensers of inhibition-lowering beverages.
“When guys hit on chicks, it’s obvious,” said TJ Grech, bar-back at The Loving Touch. “They say the dumbest things. But what’s even dumber is when girls go for it.”
Drink-slinger Ryan Vanderberghe of Ferndale offered his insight: “Girls make fun of guys who are cheap tippers, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a bartender.”
“If your whole thing about being at the bar is trying to pick someone up, respect your barstaff," fellow bartender Ben Spei added. "You shouldn’t be making excuses the first time you meet someone.
“But don’t be a big shot, either, waving money around or bragging about your car or whatever. You just have to find a middle ground.”
At SOHO, bartender Toly Ashkenazi warned of the perils of drinking too much. “I see a lot of people meeting for the first time. Sometimes, one person will get too drunk because they’re nervous. I’ve seen people actually wait for their date to go to the bathroom, then sneak in an extra drink or two. They lose themselves. It’s not good. With alcohol in the mix, who knows what will happen.”
His grim advice: “Don’t try to meet someone at a bar.”
But it’s not all bad. Sometimes even the worst encounters can be salvaged. “One time, I saw a guy and a girl meeting for the first time from a dating website,” said Vanderberghe. “Within 15 minutes, the guy managed to spill his drink on the girl. And in the next hour, they were just awkwardly asking each other questions with one-word answers. But by the time I saw them again, they’d been there three hours and looked like they were having a great time.”
Matt Kaminski, who bartends at The Bosco, offered the following advice: “Just find what works for you, whether it’s smiling and being open, or buying someone a drink. As long as you don’t take yourself too seriously, and as long as you have fun and make jokes, you’ll be fine. It’s just about getting out there, being yourself, meeting friends.”
Pausing to refill someone’s drink, Kaminski added: “Don’t play games. Everyone can see through them.”
Whether you’re looking for some fun or a long-term relationship, the same principles apply. Be polite, be genuine, and be sure to tip your bartender.