Early Date Advice
January 14, 2005 1:51 AM   Subscribe

Beyond renting videos, long walks on the beach, and hot pig sex... What are your favourite things to do on a date? I'd like some creative suggestions for fun, date-appropriate activities, especially ideas that are low-budget or free, and geared to the early stages when one (or two) hasn't quite gotten to the hot pig sex yet. Toronto-centric ideas will be most welcome, since that's where I am.
posted by orange swan to Human Relations (31 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I guess leisurely bike rides are out for a while, it being winter and all?
posted by fixedgear at 2:29 AM on January 14, 2005

Go to a museum/art opening
Dig through his/her record collection and talk about the tunes that meant something to them.
Lecture/Book Reading
See a local band
Urban Hiking
Karaoke...drinking first of course...
posted by black8 at 2:32 AM on January 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

Listen to college radio and call in for free tickets to shows. You'll be surprised at how often you will win. The radio shows 'round where I live almost know me by name. Open-mic nights for poetry or music are good too and usually only the price of a cup or a pint. Unfortunately those activities don't really give you lots of time to talk with the person about hot pig sex.
posted by sciurus at 3:49 AM on January 14, 2005

I can't imagine anyone not being ready for hot pig sex on the first date - what kind of people are you meeting these days, orange swan?? How silly.

Know what's really fun, and cheap? Taking a class together. There are lots of places where you can take a single lesson in something (so learning to fly a plane would be out, hopefully...) like a ceramics class, where you paint your own mug or something, and they fire it for you, or a free introductory karate or dance lesson...something along those lines. The vineyard near me hosts free wine-tasting evenings once a week, and the local microbrewery has beer tasting nights, also free.

Ice skating on a pond is always fun too, especially when you bring along a big thermos of steaming hot cocoa with whipped cream and kalhua added to it.
posted by iconomy at 4:23 AM on January 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

Yeah, during the winter, head out to Nathan Phillip's Square and rent some skates. It's a lot of fun, cheap, and usually leads to hot pig sex. ;)

I believe the AGO and ROM are free (or cheaper) on Friday nights, both are excellent first-second date locations.

There's the Green Room (I know, it's a little icky sometimes) but there's no cover, music is usually pretty good (depends what you're into) and it's a great place to get to know someone (stimulates good conversation IMO).

Catch a flick at a festival cinema and not one of the giant-box-o-rama venues. They're usually a lot cheaper, they show better movies, and although the seating is usually atrocious, the theatre's themselves are a lot cozier.

Ride the subway, take it places neither of you have been before, make-up stories about other people riding the subway, get out and just walk around in Beaches/Rosedale/High Park/Danforth etc. Just make sure you get a day pass, it'll be cheaper if you're getting on and off the subway.
posted by purephase at 4:45 AM on January 14, 2005

Nothing says "I'm a down-to-earth person who isn't afraid to make a fool of himself/herself" like bowling.
posted by anapestic at 5:00 AM on January 14, 2005

Thinking about the early days with my one and only... Cooking and grilling together (including the planning and shopping part), concerts, zoo, aquarium, music clubs, festivals, trading books, buying books (and CDs), discussing books, the ballet... We had a fantastic time playing games like Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit with other friends, and we spent a whole lot of time just hanging out at the local pub or what we called "balconizing" - mixing up margaritas or whatever, and just lounging on the balcony; it was basically like a low-key open party, and people would drop by all the time. Lots of playing music at home... neighborhood street parties. We even went on a hot air balloon ride (free to us, because it was basically a perk from my work). The thing is, though, that we had radar love from jump, so even scrubbing the bathroom floor together would have been the bee's knees, and a perfectly fascinating activity. So, in other words, I'm not sure how much of this applies to typical early-relationship stages. But never mind — I'll just continue to blather on...

If either of us had had a computer then, we would have played some adventure games together (think "Myst", etc.), which we did do (slightly fanatatically) later. If you are athletic, some team sports stuff might be nice. Anything that requires you to to work together toward a common goal (games, sports, cooking, etc.) is always good, because it shows you how you complement each other, and how you "fit together" when trying to achieve an end. "Quests" are always good, too; my sweetie and I had a great time seeking the perfect ridiculously cheap, gorgeous couch for my new apartment (and found it — butter-soft white leather, for only $200, barely used. Whee!!). I love iconomy's idea of doing some sort of class stuff together, too.
posted by taz at 5:03 AM on January 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

Someone also mentioned bowling. Pool, also good. Not quite athletic activities that you can still enjoy even if you suck. Indoor mini-golf (or outdoor, if your first date was yesterday when it was 12 above here) is another choice. The moving around and doing things aspect of it will make pauses in the conversation a lot less awkward without making conversation difficult. I also generally find it informative to see how competitive someone is in a non-competitive situation.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:18 AM on January 14, 2005 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Great suggestions, thanks, exactly what I was looking for, keep them coming!

The thing is, I date quite a lot (don't know what my grand total of first dates is, but it's somewhere in the triple digits), and hardly ever have lift off into an actual relationship. So once I do get beyond the second date, I'm kind of at a loss for suggestions as to things to do, as, owing to my perpetual single state, all the things I like doing are the kind of things one does by oneself. And since one usually doesn't have the kind of instant nuclear fusion of the soul and the body that taz writes about, I need fun, bonding-type activities that will help me develop something good with my lad du jour.
posted by orange swan at 5:47 AM on January 14, 2005

As soon as I read the question, I thought of bowling - but so have a couple of other people.

It's probably more like a third-date thing, i.e. just before the hot pig sex, but NTN trivia is a lot of fun. Quite a few bars have it in town, and there's plenty of stuff to talk about while you do it. Plus, drinking while you play seems to even out the playing field.
posted by flipper at 6:42 AM on January 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

Hit some thrift stores. You can learn a lot about someone that way.
posted by scratch at 6:53 AM on January 14, 2005

Sledding then baking cookies.
posted by pedantic at 7:08 AM on January 14, 2005

Toronto's a great place just to go walking downtown. For the entire afternoon, like. Gives you a constantly changing array of things to talk about.
posted by transient at 7:28 AM on January 14, 2005

Well, there are many good ideas here. And you can never underestimate the power of the quest, as taz said. But what of the random quest? I've had some really fantastic dates where we've randomly pointed to a map, headed to the destination, and walked around to check out the place. (Sometimes, if you throw in an item or a random name, it becomes a scaled back scavenger hunt.) The nature of this involves teamwork, which in turn involves idea-swapping and observations and unexpected revelations.

Even so, sometimes it may not be the exotic timbre of the date, but the KISS principle that gets you the second date.
posted by ed at 7:30 AM on January 14, 2005 [2 favorites]

To follow up on the walking suggestion, Queen Street is always nice for some window shopping and cafes, plus the lake is within walking distance for some pretty views. Just have a plan for the occasional hipster-kid panhandlers, that sort of situation could be awkward.
posted by tweak at 7:35 AM on January 14, 2005

A few more:

- Find someplace to volunteer for an evening.
- Old (or new if you can't find any old ones) bookstores. The stores with books piled to the ceiling. Peek at each other through the shelves.
- Toronto.com usually has a pretty good event listing for each day. Browse through what the city has to offer.
- Take a walk through the The Distillery.
- Window shop at Antique/Clothing/Record/Sex stores.
posted by purephase at 7:36 AM on January 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

Cards at a coffeeshop. Cribbage or Gin work best. It's an activity that'll keep you sort of busy, but gives you a lot of time to sit face to face and talk.
posted by togdon at 7:49 AM on January 14, 2005

What is the KISS principle?
posted by Tufa at 8:20 AM on January 14, 2005

If you have two cameras try some photography. It's amazing how you begin to understand the individual you are with when you walk the same path and both actively shoot. It's fun to compare them side by side after the fact, which is relaxing and often spurs many discussions/thoughts.
posted by sled at 8:48 AM on January 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

What is the KISS principle?

Rock and roll all night, party every day.

(It's really Keep It Simple, Stupid.)
posted by flipper at 8:57 AM on January 14, 2005

Go geocaching together - you can do it without a GPS unit if you use Mapquest, I hear: my friend and her boyfriend just discovered doing this and love to take a weekend day to hunt up a few local caches. Or letterboxing - get/make stamps together and solve the riddle/follow the instructions - artistic and outdoorsy. (Both are neat hobbies to start on your own, too.)

There's always my favorite, NTN trivia, but you knew that. ;) Bowling, which is cheapish if you go on their "family" or "two-for-one" nights. Mini-golf. Pool. Museum browsing. Latin dancing (see if you can find a club that holds a "class" where they show you the steps and get you used to it before people come out and fill up the club - that's generally free and done earlier in the night). Swing dancing. Once it's warmer, if there's anywhere to take paddleboat rides, that's always fun 'n sappy.
posted by Melinika at 8:59 AM on January 14, 2005

My favourite first date had us playing video games at Playdium (A crazy, shiny mega-arcade.) for a couple hours, and then wandering around downtown before stopping in a rad little jazz bar for drinks. It was a fantastic night.

Bowling and pool are definitely great dates, but I think movie dates are horrible. I go out with people because I want to get to know them better. Those quiet hours in the dark could be better spent by actually talking about what movies he likes, and his many other charming interests.
posted by digifox at 8:59 AM on January 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

I totally agree with digifox on the movie date thing. One exception might be if the other person is a huge fan of x director, and his or her new movie is out, and you have a fair amounf of time for talking afterwards. Generally, though, if the silence is still uncomfortable, I try to avoid two hours of it.

My brief stab at urban exploration suggests that it could be fun if she's up for it, and might be a nice add-on to the photography idea. If you choose someplace like a hotel, though, you'll have to consider the possibilities of security encounters. But, that could be fun. (Oh, sorry, sir. Just checking the place out before we check in, yannowwhatimsayin'? *wink* etc.)

When I bought a used car recently, there was a Winnie the Pooh kite in the trunk. It's still there, waiting for the right girl and the right weather. I've mentioned it to a few people, and response is generally, "Wow, what a random thing to buy with a car" and "Hey, that would be really fun." I don't know. Something to think about.

I think a swing dancing class would be fantastic with the right person.
posted by rfordh at 9:26 AM on January 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

damn. a winnie the pooh kite is such a good idea for a pick-up ploy. makes me want to be single again.

don't you kids play twister any more?
posted by andrew cooke at 9:44 AM on January 14, 2005

There's nothing sexier than shooting pool with someone you're attracted to... all that BENDING and STROKING...

One of the best dates I ever went on was to Our Name is Mud here in NYC. There might be something equivalent in Toronto.
posted by papercake at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2005

Spend the day in Niagara Falls doing all the touristy stuff...falls tours, wax museums, haunted houses, tacky gift shops, etc. If it goes well, stay for dinner and an evening at the casinos.

Also, if he's a hockey fan (if he isn't, dump him), go to the Hockey Hall of Fame downtown.
posted by rocket88 at 11:05 AM on January 14, 2005

When I first started dating my fellow, it was spring, so we did a lot of wandering around/exploring Toronto type stuff, which has been suggested already. Walking is kind of harder in the winter, but it's great because you have lots of time to talk and point things out to each other and the like, and it's easy to hold hands, but there's relatively little pressure to do anything else.
Queen St. has been mentioned, which I assume means Queen West, but I'd also suggest West Queen West (like from Bathhurstish to Ossington) which has all kinds of upmarket furniture stores and the like, and is great for walking/window shopping.
Also, Little Italy is fun. And is full of bars and coffee shops, so it's easy to stop off and warm up.

Museums are similarly effective. The ROM is free on Friday afternoons, though last time I went a lot of stuff was closed because of the renovations.
Really, any wander-y, semi-touristy stuff.

I go on lots of movie dates, but I agree totally that they're a terrible way to get to know someone. This stems more from our both liking movies.
posted by SoftRain at 2:18 PM on January 14, 2005

Some good suggestions and with your added comment may I add;
I'm kind of at a loss for suggestions as to things to do
Do you also plan the first dates? Go to some places a date took you to that was a blast, just make sure not to mention that dates name.

You have kind of answered your own question.
date quite a lot (don't know what my grand total of first dates is, but it's somewhere in the triple digits), and hardly ever have lift off into an actual relationship. So once I do get beyond the second date, I'm kind of at a loss for suggestions as to things to do,

Let it be spontaneous like a relationship. Nothing like a date being ruined by its anticipation, thinking in the future. This is when the thoughts of it are better than the actual event happening. You see this at weddings when the Bride cries because things didn’t plan out to perfection.

By being spontaneous it will have less expectation in the end which can make a date effortless. Plus how can you plan a successful date with a person when you know nothing about them yet.

my perpetual single state, all the things I like doing are the kind of things one does by oneself.
Really can’t imagine all the things one likes doing are a one person event.
then again, I look at going to the movies as a one person event, you can’t socialize during the movie. Though you do now have a common together which can be discussed at its end by sharing it over a drink or a bite to eat. This is better than discussing personal life or metafilter.

Try doing what you like doing alone and invite them along, even if it seems individualistic. They can always opt out by themselves if they don't like it. Unless these are things were closed doors will separate you.

I'm not a morbid person so don't think this is a weird suggestion. Graveyard can be neat. The old established ones that is. It’s neat to look at the various stone art works with dates and names, noting that these were paid for and rarely seen by the purchaser. Plus it is free art. It can be a little more romantic at night by hopping the fence.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:02 PM on January 14, 2005

I'm not in Toronto, but you might want to look into performances and events held at your local universities/colleges/conservatories. Student and faculty recitals, plays, ballets, etc. are usually cheap or free at most schools.
posted by sophie at 3:47 PM on January 14, 2005

I think a movie date is great for a second or third date where you already know you like each other and want an excuse to hold hands. If you're into that sort of thing. Most of the people I've dated have been, but it seems that people here move a little faster.
posted by grouse at 4:53 PM on January 14, 2005

Free Friday admission at the ROM is great, except the first floor is packed, and you have to work to get away from the crowds, and its so much noisier and busier than usual. I'm a big fan of their Egypt wing, myself (Palette of Narmer and all!)

There are some great little Greek restaurants on Danforth Ave, as well.

Going to the Toronto Metro Zoo in the winter can be a nice change of pace if its not too cold out... the indoor exhibits are obviously mostly open, and its fun to watch the polar bears since they are quite active. Oh, and obviously there are little to no crowds.
posted by tweak at 11:05 PM on January 14, 2005

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