Help me find fun & intellectual activities in Pittsburgh
December 4, 2012 2:21 PM   Subscribe

27 year old somewhat nerdy male. Non-drinker. Have lived in Pittsburgh for four years. Recently left a nights-and-weekends kitchen job for a 9-5 office job. I've never had nights and weekends off in my adult life and, silly as it sounds, need ideas on what to do.

I know enough to pick up the City Paper and look in the events section. My current situation is that my friends almost always are working when I'm not, so I'll be attending activities alone initially. Making some additional friends would be cool.

I enjoy intellectual pursuits and prefer small gatherings. I'm not averse to going to see local musicians perform but I'm a little intimidated about going alone.

I feel like there has to be something for all the late twentysomething Pitt and CMU grads to do now that they've graduated. I'm out of the loop in that regard, having not been in college (aside from CCAC) since I moved here. I've let my intellectual side atrophy for a few years. I left university not due to a lack of interest, but a lack of personal discipline. The culture suited me perfectly.

My recently creating an OkCupid profile made me realize I need to get out of the house. I match with grad students. Lots of grad students. Also, an awful lot of Neil Gaiman fans, but I digress. My profile gives off a bored and lonely vibe no matter how I write it, and for good reason.

Any suggestions?
posted by UrbanEye to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Have you ever been to the First Friday gallery crawl in Garfield? It's all up and down Penn Ave and happening this Friday!! There's always a lot of people and though it may be awkward to go alone at least there's a lot to look at.
posted by amicamentis at 2:25 PM on December 4, 2012

Best answer: What about joining an interest related group or taking a class of some kind?

For example a knitting circle, a cooking class (if you're a chef, maybe not?), jam session, improv comedy group, writers' workshop, etc? Historical reenactment? Local cafe's tabletop game night? I'd suggest bar trivia, but it's less fun if you don't drink (the prize is usually a bar tab) and also can be alienating alone, even if you're hella great at trivia. Political activity?

You mention you've let your intellectual side atrophy -- don't know if this exists in Pittsburgh, but New York has a bunch of venues where you can take classes on interesting nerdy things at a sort of "know what you're talking about at dinner parties" level. Also look out for "Nerd Nite" events, lecture series, etc. What about a book group of some kind?
posted by Sara C. at 2:29 PM on December 4, 2012

What's the Pittsburgh metafilter scene like? Go to some meetups!
posted by phunniemee at 2:30 PM on December 4, 2012

Best answer: Also: I will talk about Pittsburgh and Pittsburghy activities all damn day if given the chance. Can you narrow down your interests a bit? It sounds like you do a lot of techy stuff, have you checked out Build Guild?

Would you be interested in volunteering stuff, or just events happening on nights and weekends?
posted by amicamentis at 2:32 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Board games are undergoing a bit of a renaissance right now. The last 5-10 years have seen increasing interest in European-style board games which are worlds apart from the classics and also eschew the sci-fi/fantasy/horror stylings of American ones. If you want intellectually stimulating social activities perfect for small groups, find a group of dorks in your vicinity and join up.
posted by blue t-shirt at 2:47 PM on December 4, 2012

Best answer: You could always initiate a meetup. It's about time for one, isn't it? (I'm out in Forest Hills).
posted by jon1270 at 2:58 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Quite a few of us Pittsburgh mefites here. As amicamentis says, be more specific and we can give some good recommendations.
posted by bfranklin at 3:33 PM on December 4, 2012

Response by poster: Well, I'm in IT, so build guild would make sense. I like thought provoking movies. Museums are fun. I was a theatre (design & production) major for a bit, so artsy stuff of all kinds is good. No interest in sports or dance classes.
posted by UrbanEye at 3:41 PM on December 4, 2012

Best answer: Hack Pittsburgh?
posted by another zebra at 3:53 PM on December 4, 2012

Response by poster: Oh, that looks neat! Thanks.
posted by UrbanEye at 3:58 PM on December 4, 2012

Best answer: Any interest in slam poetry? For a while I was into that (as a weekly attendee, not a poet) and it was fun, and a good way to meet fellow regulars. Not sure where they're meeting these days but I bet if you searched for the Pittsburgh Suncrumbs you'd find it.
posted by Stacey at 3:59 PM on December 4, 2012

Response by poster: As an attendee, why not?
posted by UrbanEye at 4:02 PM on December 4, 2012

Give it a shot - it's fun, and when it's not, it's so bad it's fun. My partner and I are still quoting a couple of memorable bad poems years later.
posted by Stacey at 4:03 PM on December 4, 2012

Best answer: Pittsburgh Technology Council has a number of events that may be worth attending, particularly given your IT focus.

My friend KJ runs Pittsburgh Skeeball League. Season III should be starting up soon, I think.

Meetup has a lot of local groups that may be of interest.

Get yourself season tickets in the nosebleeds to the theater series. A number of top notch productions come through, and it's a very good time and very affordable.
posted by bfranklin at 4:45 PM on December 4, 2012

Response by poster: Hey, that's Jeff! I know a guy in the Skeeball League!
posted by UrbanEye at 4:58 PM on December 4, 2012

Best answer: Well, this weekend alone there's Handmade Arcade. I was just joking to a recent hire who's probably your age that if he wanted to meet a girl with a hand-knit scarf that lives within twenty miles of the city, that's where she'll be this weekend. The bonus of going alone is that when it gets hellishly crowded, you'll be lighter on your feet. (We went with a group last year. It was a fiasco.)

Not sure how much you're interested in spending, but the library has a few options (I am not affiliated with CLPGH beyond paying fines). They do a fairly regular After Hours event that might be perfect for you, and then also their Book Clubs with a Twist (think less Oprah, more Bourdain, at least recent choices).

Let me think on it. Like amicamentis, I love this city and can talk about it all damn day.
posted by librarianamy at 6:43 PM on December 4, 2012

Best answer: If you're feeling particularly geeky, both Phantom in the Attic and Legions Games and Comics are excellent board game, card game, war game, comic book hang outs.

Though you may have to forgive them the atrocious turn of the millenia site design.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:07 AM on December 5, 2012

Response by poster: Re: After Hours

Yikes! $40 is a bit much for a non-drinker. Any way to go without getting three drink tickets?
posted by UrbanEye at 3:28 AM on December 5, 2012

Best answer: Re: After Hours - it's worth checking with them. I'll memail you the info for the woman who handles their ticketing. I met my best friend at their inaugural event last winter, so while it's pricey, it's been worthwhile for me (I also won a giant papier-mache pineapple, so...bonus!)

I love...
Venture Outdoors
The Drue Heinz Lectures
The Speakers Series

You can get relatively cheap opera tickets, too.

The library does a lot of fun things, actually; they're really trying to reach out to the 25-40 crowd right now. Keep an eye on their events page.

There are some good things on meetup, too - I know that there's a eurogames group that meets at the Crazy Mocha on Murray Avenue on Sundays.
posted by punchtothehead at 6:37 AM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My standard response for this type of Ask MeFi question: Look into joining a fraternal/service organization. (Lions, Rotary, Freemasons, Odd Fellows, etc) Caveat: many such organizations, especially older ones, require a vague and non-specific belief in deity for membership.

The nice thing about groups like this is that they draw from a cross section of community that you probably wouldn't meet otherwise, so you can forge a lot of useful connections and strike up interesting friendships across generations and all walks of life.

As for the intellectual side of things: There's a spectrum... the Lions and Kiwanis are much more service and community oriented. While the Masons have drifted pretty far in the community service direction too, their original focus was much more intellectual and philosophical... and that framework is still very much there even if it takes a little more effort to find people interested in it.
posted by usonian at 9:53 AM on December 5, 2012

I also meant to say: There are younger people joining these groups these days. There's a bit of a generation gap (not many baby boomers joined any of their parents' clubs, that's for squares, man) but the upshot is that it's an opportunity for younger members to reinvigorate and reinvent local chapters. The old timers are (by and large) thrilled to see people joining again.
posted by usonian at 9:59 AM on December 5, 2012

Look into joining a fraternal/service organization. (Lions, Rotary, Freemasons, Odd Fellows, etc)

Or you could always do the nerd version of this and join something like the SCA.
posted by Sara C. at 10:07 AM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Echoing this: Look into joining a fraternal/service organization

The Elks on the North Side is home to the Pittsburgh Banjo Club. I believe we've done a Mefi Meetup there in the past. I've not been there for Banjo night, but was there for an animal rescue group fundraiser (they have a bowling alley on the top floor) and was floored at how friendly & welcoming their members were. Almost a hard sell to get younger people to join, but we both said "if this was in our neighborhood, we'd be all over this."
posted by librarianamy at 11:32 AM on December 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Tossing in another vote for the Elks -- I know a couple people our age who started going for Banjo night and ended up getting sucked in and joining.

In a similar vein to Hack PGH, Pittsburgh's new Tech Shop had an open house recently and should be open shortly. I gather it's a bit spendy, though.

In addition to the eurogames meet mentioned upthread, there's also Obscure Games, which meets for board and card games and general frivolity every Wednesday at Hambone's in Lawrenceville (once it gets warm, we'll start meeting outside on Flagstaff Hill on Sundays and maybe some Wednesdays). There's also a Game Designers group on Facebook; as well as bringing some of their games to Obscure Games, they have their own playtesting meetups, where you can meet the designers and try out some of the games---and give your feedback and possibly help influence the future of the games!

If you have any interest in 'traditional' or 'folk' dance at all, check out CATS Dance. Though based at CMU, they're open for everyone. This week is a special Techno Contra; they also have a regular monthly contra dance on campus.

Finally--there's plenty more I could say, but I'll end this here--the local Couchsurfing community board is usually a pretty good place for getting event listings; there's also monthly potlucks and meetups which are of course usually pretty good for meeting new people.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 10:00 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

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