Hot-blooded, check it and see / got a fever of 312.594444° Kelvin ...
December 17, 2007 11:23 AM   Subscribe

There are gay bars, lesbian bars, and leather bars. Are there "geek bars"? In geek culture, what institution, meeting, or whatever serves the purpose that "meat market" single bars do amongst the non-geeky populace?

One might define a "meat market" singles bar as a recreational locale where people know that those within are there within a romantic context. Are there geek equivalents?

I am contemplating going out and trying my hand in "normal" singles bars here in Chicago. However, I think I would much prefer "girl geeks" — women who actually have a brain in their heads, and who would have a much higher likelihood of sharing some of my interests. (Intellect is sexy.) Plasticine women who are looking to latch onto the next golden ticket to walk into the bar are a bit unpleasant to be around. (Just as are plasticine men who are looking only for plasticine just-off-the-factory-line women.)

Or, to put it another way, where is there a bar or locale where there's a much higher probability that if I say "Starbuck" to a woman, she's going to respond "I love her! She's such a hardass!", not "I love their double-dip nonfat decaf whipped mochatrickalatte!"

Where/what is the geek/nerd "meat market" — i.e., a place where, by default, it's fairly safe to assume that those around you are also looking for a relationship, romantic companionship?

If it's an answer regional in nature, I live in Chicago; also, I did not find Nerds at Heart, despite its name, to in any way serve this purpose.
posted by WCityMike to Society & Culture (50 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

For an historical perspective, in the 70s and 80s, for tech geeks they were the computer labs and terminal rooms. Not so much meat markets as places where all the local geeks were likely to meet. Dialup, cheap PCs, and the internet have diminished the importance of these places quite a bit.

There was a geek-themed bar in Cambridge, MA called Miracle of Science when I lived in the area in the 90s.
posted by zippy at 11:32 AM on December 17, 2007

Anywhere where there's a Metafilter meetup?

There may not be a place per se, but there are almost certainly events you could start going to; San Francisco seems to have a lot (not so much with the first-hand knowledge here - I'm old, and sleepy, and married) of these - there are lots of literary-type events that happen in bars, for instance. There's some sort of ask-a-scientist series, which also seems to happen in bars: scientist knowledgable about cool topic X talks about X, and the audience asks questions, hangs out, gets drinks, etc.
posted by rtha at 11:36 AM on December 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

I think you get your own official hangout once you're an officially marginalized group. But until geek pogroms take place, I think checking out places like arthouse movie theatres, book readings, independent book stores and the like are a good bet. If I were you I'd go to as many local bars (I remember from my time in Chicago that there's NO lack of those) on trivia night. Also, has many groups that get together and do stuff in real live (not virtual) places. Some of the groups are just singles in whatever area, but some are based on shared interests. I would check those out and see if there are any geek meetups.
posted by sneakin at 11:39 AM on December 17, 2007

posted by drezdn at 11:40 AM on December 17, 2007

I think it's still the internet, and IRL meet-ups spawned by the internet. Try mefi-fave okcupid, host a local mefi meet-up, or check other websites with a lot of geeks and some local presence.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:41 AM on December 17, 2007

I don't think so.

Geeks in general tend to stay away from social situations. My experience has been that geeky girls even more so. Of course, that's a broad generalization etc., doesn't mean it's true of everybody, yadda yadda.

It seems that you have to get into situations where they're already at. I've heard, from friends, some crazy goings on at some of the various area comic book/anime conventions. Involving girls.

I end up at this bar a lot, and there's not a terribly huge amount of people there who would think you meant coffee. I think.

Also, don't use Geek to Geek. It's lame.
posted by kpmcguire at 11:41 AM on December 17, 2007

of course you know I meant .com. But it doesn't matter since you shouldn't use it anyway.
posted by kpmcguire at 11:43 AM on December 17, 2007

I imagine one would have more luck with specific events (like MeFi meetups and the Reddit beer nights) then a specific place. It definitely doesn't have distinctly for singles feeling, but it's way more likely o have geeks. However, as the geek ratio tends to skew heavily sausage, ladies may be tired of constantly parrying unappealing advances.

I met my gf of 14 months and counting via Craigslist (with a nerdy M4W post), but as gingerbeer mentioned, I remember OkCupid having a relatively good geek ratio.
posted by Nelsormensch at 11:44 AM on December 17, 2007

One Saturday night I was in central London, looking for a space in a pub, and stumbled upstairs into the loft. Right there was about 20-25 geeks all sat playing D&D.

I suspect I lost my Will Save on a Modify Memory attack as I can't remember for the life of me where I was.
posted by randomination at 11:50 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Special bar nights? I've gone to a bar that formerly had an iPod-themed music night and currently has a video game night -- projector, social video games like Guitar Hero and such. While there's normal bar traffic, you're likely to meet people who are interested in music and games and such.
posted by mikeh at 11:51 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

You could always hit an Apple store on a Friday night. The ones in DC and Chicago are both pretty hot meeting spots for geeks and hipsters alike.
posted by littlerobothead at 12:09 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Goth bars :)
posted by jon4009 at 12:12 PM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Try a regular bar on trivia night.
posted by rmless at 12:16 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hipster joints. They're all nerds inside. Once, at the same bar, simultaneously, there were kids on one side posing and kids on the other side playing Magic. Seriously. And this place had a HUGE hipster reputation.

Nerd-dom is a big part of hipster-dom.
posted by General Malaise at 12:16 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Grad student pubs on campuses? Certainly served that purpose well for me, back in the day.
posted by kmennie at 12:24 PM on December 17, 2007

There was a place in Ann Arbor that was essentially set up for LAN parties and could be rented (Digital Ops—it's a cool place. Too bad my article about them got spiked way back when). There were often a fairly good percentage of women there, and they were the women who would whup your ass at Quake. I'd imagine that there's a similar spot in Chicago, though I couldn't tell you where it was.

Also, I will say that the girls I know who do roller derby in Chicago are all "nerdy," in that they know about computers and will geek out, but they're also pretty burly and punk rock, which may be too much for you.
posted by klangklangston at 12:27 PM on December 17, 2007

Lots of different types of nerds = lots of different types of nerd meeting places. A classic is the game store/comic shop (role-playing/collectible card/specialty board game/table-top strategy, etc.) This only works if you're into gaming.
posted by agentofselection at 12:28 PM on December 17, 2007

Coffee shops have been geek bars for centuries.
posted by mullingitover at 12:34 PM on December 17, 2007

Find the local group that runs the sci fi cons in the area...Chicago's is Windycon run by : ISFIC

Check out for BSG groups?

Good luck :)

posted by legotech at 12:41 PM on December 17, 2007

Cafe Scientifique - hurry, the December event is tonight.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:53 PM on December 17, 2007

In Seattle, there's a bar called the Virginia Inn. I used to work there and still drink there. I have had some of the most thoughtful conversations there with sophisticated, well-read people on a wide variety of topics. If you go there on a week night and spend it reading you won't even get so much as a sideways glance, unless it's out of envy.
posted by vito90 at 12:53 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

LAN parties?
posted by streetdreams at 12:55 PM on December 17, 2007

Grad student pubs on campuses?

Seriously, Hyde Park. As they say on campus, "the odds are good, but the goods are odd."
posted by zadermatermorts at 1:04 PM on December 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

Check out Gapers Block's Slowdown Events section for some highly likely to be attractive to geeks types of events.
posted by jeanmari at 1:07 PM on December 17, 2007

Response by poster: I appreciate the answers thus far and they are definitely of use. However, they appear to be — unless I'm mistaken — listing gatherings where geeks socialize. This is indeed useful to me, but the variant I'm truly looking for is where geeks gather to romantically mingle. At these events and lectures, you could not assume that any person there is also looking for someone to whom they'd be attracted. Again, I understand that's a possible outgrowth from the events listed thus far — but I'm curious about geek romantic gatherings.
posted by WCityMike at 1:31 PM on December 17, 2007

At these events and lectures, you could not assume that any person there is also looking for someone to whom they'd be attracted.

Can you assume this at a bar? I wouldn't, not at any bar. People (single and attached) go to bars for all sorts of reasons, not just to meet romantic partners. Unfortunately, I think you are out of luck- there is no magical place where you can go where there are hordes of attractive single people you will be attracted to. You have to go places you enjoy where you may meet people you enjoy, and hope for the best.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:47 PM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: > Can you assume this at a bar? I wouldn't, not at any bar. People (single and attached) go to bars for all sorts of reasons, not just to meet romantic partners.

I don't think it's an unreasonable assumption to make at "singles bars," is it?
posted by WCityMike at 1:51 PM on December 17, 2007

No help, but I've long thought it would be great for someone to run a bar that is easy to read in.
posted by rhizome at 1:54 PM on December 17, 2007

Are you looking for a bar where you could meet someone you could possibly have a long-term relationship with? Or just someplace to go to get laid?
posted by turaho at 2:02 PM on December 17, 2007

I suspected you weren't being explicit enough about that. :) One thing I've learned is that people want to jump in and help here at AskMe (without reading all of the question), which is a cool instinct but means you've got to shout about the thing you really want to know. You can't say it in the next-to-last sentence of a more inside.

Anyway: if you want a default-"seeking romance" scene in the physical world rather than online, I say your best bet is EITHER to find a singles-scene environment that happens to be populated by grad student / thinker / techie types, like the bars mentioned above, OR to hang out in singles-scene environment and just be overly explicit about your tastes. "Geek girls are hot" Tshirt? (Maybe literally that phrase, maybe others. Would probably turn off plastic girls & turn on geek girls [at least this one].)
posted by lorimer at 2:03 PM on December 17, 2007

Maybe not your flavor, but BDSM gatherings sure seem to skew geeky. There is definitely a higher-than-average percentage of engineers, IT professionals, D&D players, and SCA members in the BDSM scene (hetero, at least - no idea about the gay BDSM scene). MeFiMail me if you want pointers to Chicago-area happenings.
posted by desjardins at 2:26 PM on December 17, 2007

Yahoo Personals.

Worked for this nerdy girl. :)
posted by santojulieta at 2:40 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: > Are you looking for a bar where you could meet someone you could possibly have a long-term relationship with? Or just someplace to go to get laid?

To be honest, I wouldn't mind either. Were I to choose either one or the other, though, the former.
posted by WCityMike at 2:41 PM on December 17, 2007

I've always suspected that singles bars exist because in many circles there's a taboo against dating friends or friends-of-friends. You go meet strangers in bars as a way of coping with the fact that you're forced to date strangers.

The geeks I've always hung around with haven't had that taboo. I wonder if that's part of what's going on here.

That said, the closest thing I've ever seen to a geek singles bar is a Rocky Horror cast party. I don't know if you should find that reassuring or terrifying.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:41 PM on December 17, 2007

I've been a geeky girl. Here's where guys tried to hook up with me:

Bookstores, as mentioned previously, especially the ones that have a coffee shop inside them. Geeky girls drink Tazo tea. We like Borders and Barnes & Noble. Also libraries.

Internet cafes. Not Starbucks, but more the little boutique kind of internet cafe.

Hang around the "alternative" section of your local video store.

Ditto stores that sell videogames (really--we are the ones playing the demos).

Airports. Look for the girl reading while she is sitting alone in some fast-food dive (she's more into the book than the food, is what I am getting at here)., yeah, BDSM gatherings have a huge appeal for the new flock of geeky girls. No kidding.
posted by misha at 2:54 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sorry, but it seems important to point out that Kelvin doesn't have degrees. It's simply 312.59 Kelvin.
posted by !Jim at 3:05 PM on December 17, 2007 [7 favorites]

In big enough cities there are bars with different cultures - if you go to bars that hold readings or host alternative bands, you'll get a different audience than the local college bar full of frat boys. But if you said "starbuck" to them, they'd be more likely to think of moby dick, I'd think, which is really closer to the lattes, since that's what the coffee shop is named after. (I don't know who your character is). But what it comes down to is, if you go to a place where people congregate for the sole purpose of getting drunk, you're gonna meet the kind of people who like to do that. If you go to the kind of place where there is some other cultural aspect going on, you'll find common ground with that. If you're looking for gaming / techie interests, you can check out conventions & the like. There have been some bars that have tried to work off the techie angle, but the thing is people who are really into that are less likely to be really committed drinkers, and bars ultimately depend on the "regulars", so they don't usually last.
posted by mdn at 3:49 PM on December 17, 2007

Well, I am going to speak to the former, WCityMike, because I think this thread is already filled with great suggestions for the latter.

Now, you probably don't want to hear this, but I suggest giving up on this idea of a geek meat market. You're essentially asking "Where can I find other people who I can identify with on a non-superficial level in an environment designed for superficial interaction?"

The whole thing about a "meat market" is that people go there to get laid and that's it. It's a shallow experience by design. You go, you drink, you find someone attractive, you flirt, you drink some more, you make out in the parking lot, you stumble home together. People don't go to meat markets to have scintillating conversations.

Which is not to say that there aren't geeky girls to be found at your average singles bar. Or non-geeky girls that you may (*gasp*) actually be able to get along with. But if you're going to put an arbitrary constraint on yourself like "I can only have sex with people that are familiar with the TV shows I enjoy," then you'll have to work a little harder then most to find them because, duh, it's an arbitrary constraint.

May I make a suggestion? Try these "normal" singles bars, but do it without the prejudice that your question is loaded with. Believe it or not, singles bar are not generally filled with "Plasticine women who are looking to latch onto the next golden ticket to walk into the bar." Don't judge women based on whether "Starbuck" makes them think of BSG or coffee or Moby Dick. All kinds of people wants to get laid, son. Go, get drunk, have fun, mindlessly flirt if that's what you want.
posted by turaho at 3:51 PM on December 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

I would like to second Hyde Park since there seem to be lots of cool intellectuals. I would advise that a lot of people don't go to bars; however, I think you'll find what you are looking for at the two or three in the neighborhood.
posted by aetg at 4:16 PM on December 17, 2007

turaho: May I make a suggestion? Try these "normal" singles bars, but do it without the prejudice that your question is loaded with. Believe it or not, singles bar are not generally filled with "Plasticine women who are looking to latch onto the next golden ticket to walk into the bar." Don't judge women based on whether "Starbuck" makes them think of BSG or coffee or Moby Dick. All kinds of people wants to get laid, son. Go, get drunk, have fun, mindlessly flirt if that's what you want.

Yes. To extend on this, try to be a bit more open-minded. Not all "plasticine" women are looking for a sugar daddy. Some of them might be really smart, or interested in the things you are. Maybe appearances are deceiving. Maybe they've never met someone who brings out their nerd side. Maybe they've got intellectual preoccupations but they're just not the same as yours. There are as many possibilities out there as there are people, because people aren't stereotypes.

The problem I see with your approach is that you've got a specific person already in mind. She might not even exist, and if you don't open your mind, you might miss someone even better.

I don't want to hear an eligible guy hating on "plasticine" women because it shows that he judges books by covers, and I could be next.
posted by loiseau at 5:17 PM on December 17, 2007

Yeah, the thing is there are lesbian bars, and gay bars, leather bars, because they can all only really date each other (yes yes i know there are bi people and plenty of exceptions to this rule), but geeks can date outside of their little group and do a lot of the time. Also, once you get out of high school, and everyone sort of grows into their bodies and learns how to put on clean clothes, there are some pretty hot geeks who easily pass as any other "plasticine" woman. Also, really intelligent and really good looking women, really don't like it when people assume they are dumb and shallow. It is possible to be attractive without being a bitch. I've seen it. It has been done.

I guess my point is geeks don't just hang out with geeks and they don't just date geeks, therefore they do what everyone else does, they go out with their geek and non geek friends to the bar. That's it. Outside of high school, people don't tend to exclusively hang with any one group, nor can most people readily identify with any one group. Everyone just hangs out with all the other straight people at the bar.

You have three choices in bars. Dive bars. Clubby nice bars. And something in between. Geeks tend to prefer the dive to something in between bars. However, if you are really looking to meet people and get to know them, you should probably go to places that are laid back and not so loud that people can't talk. Go with a small group of friends, meet other people.

Also, short of in the gay male context, I have heard of very few, if any, true "meat markets". People go to bars to socialize and have a good time, by in large. Some bars are known to have a more attractive clientèle and there are always those people who only go out to hook up, but really they are in the minority. I've never heard of any bar that was the equivalent of "casual encounters".
posted by whoaali at 5:57 PM on December 17, 2007

I'm a geek girl and my boyfriend is a geek guy (this wasn't an intentional choice but I'm happy anyway!). I can't really speak for all geek girls, but I find meat-market places boring and useless because (a) I don't drink and (b) I'd just get judged on my attractiveness (or lack thereof) and willingness to put out, not on my personality or brains or whatever. I met my guy at college, and neither of us were even consciously looking for a partner.

I nth the suggestion of going to events that interest you (festivals, volunteering, meetups, etc) - just because they're not there explicitly for relationships doesn't meant it can't happen. nebulawindphone said that there isn't a taboo amongst geeks for dating your friends, and I can relate to that; I personally wouldn't date anyone I wasn't already friendly with to some degree.
posted by divabat at 7:04 PM on December 17, 2007

I'm going to say that geek girls don't congregate in geek singles bars because they're looking for men who are smart AND who can pass for non-geek when the situation calls for it. If you're specifically looking for a significant other, it's easier to find someone who looks together and then try and start an interesting conversation than it is to find someone who looks smart and ask if they're going to embarrass you with their complete lack of social grace.
posted by anaelith at 7:11 PM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

1. Most non-geeks don't go to meat-market singles bars, though they might have seen one in a movie once or twice. Outside of bars next to colleges during the first few weeks of classes and some parts of gay culture, I don't think that "meat markets" are really major features of real-world dating scenes for anyone, geek or not.

2. Geeks go to bars all the time. Every science lab group I know goes out drinking, sometimes much too often for their own good. Online affinity groups of every flavor (from BDSM to motorcycle riders to knitters to MeFi) have their real-life meet-ups in bars. College professors go to bars. So there are lots of geeks in bars, but there aren't so many bars exclusively populated by geeks. It takes a lot of geeks to make it feasible to run a bar just for them -- but you can sometimes find them next to large research universities, and has been pointed out trendy hipsters are pretty much just geeks with social skills, and hipster bars are easy to find.

2.5. Unlike in the 1980s (remember Revenge of the Nerds?), in 2007 geek and non-geek culture has heavily blended. I think the clear separation of "geek" and "plasticine" you posit is hard to find nowadays in the real world.

3. However: are you sure that the kind of girl you are looking for (who shares all your geeky cultural references, is really hot, and is smart in a non-plasticine way, whatever that is) is going to be hanging out in a (geek) singles bar waiting for you to make your move? My experience is that she is much more likely to be at the anime club meeting, at the stitch-and-bitch, cheering on her friend's machine at the robot olympics, at a party with her friends, or at home typing on-line. You know, the kinds of places where most people meet their partners, plasticine or not. People go to those events partly because they are fun, but also because that is where you can meet someone to date. I'm not saying don't go to bars -- just that the real way to meet women at bars is to go when a really cool band is playing, or when it is trivia night -- in other words, when women who share your interests might actually be there.

4. Are you sure you aren't being too picky, and too self-limiting? I agree with you that intellectual women are hawt hawt hawt. But I've also figured out that you can't tell how smart someone is by looking at them. A lot of straight-looking people are total closet geeks, and conversely a lot of people who wear sci-fi t-shirts or whatever are actually as dumb as rocks. Be careful about what you ask for, in case you aren't asking for quite the right thing.

5. But the real answer to your question, I think, is on-line dating. A few years back it would definitely have been the Nerve personals; I'm not sure which site is currently getting that same big-city, geek/hipster/etc demographic, but it comes up frequently on AskMe. On-line dating serves the purpose of the singles bar, particularly for people with particular tastes and individualized social skills. Get thee off of MeFi and onto the dating sites, and go to town.
posted by Forktine at 7:50 PM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone, for your responses thus far. As always, you've given me a lot to think about. (I don't say that as a thread-closer; please keep chiming in.)

To fess up, the reason why I was slightly derogatory of "plasticine girls" was, if I now examine my underlying feelings, because I think what I was really asking for was friendly v. unfriendly, not geeky v. plasticine. The question was constructed with the underlying bias that geek women would be more friendly to me than the plastic set. However, I've been appropriately called on that generalization, and I'm going to have to re-examine that bias. In all honesty, going into a singles bar and trying to flirt with a girl is probably one of the most terrifying things I can contemplate right about now.1

Also — I'm rather unfamiliar with BDSM, although I know what it abbreviates. Still, while not wanting to appear closed-minded, I really don't feel as if it's the right thing for me at this stage.

1Don't get too literal on me. Yes, I can imagine getting murdered, etc.
posted by WCityMike at 8:26 PM on December 17, 2007

This is a bit more specific than what you're asking about and I really can't speak to the girl to guy ratio but the Chicago Drupal group is having a 'social' tonight at a bar on Clark st. You can find more info on their meetup page. I'm not sure how 'geeky' you're looking to go, but it could be fun > They invited the Ruby group!
posted by bernsno at 10:04 AM on December 18, 2007

The closest I've seen in Toronto is NASA:

"Space cadets, unite: House music plays in a Jetsons-like futuristic space. The crowd here is too young to have seen 2001: A Space Odyssey the first time around, but video screens offer glimpses." - Frommers

The place is decorated with circuit boards, retro-futuristic toys and old-school ray-traced video games.
posted by j0hnnyb at 10:24 AM on December 18, 2007

Geek bars? You mean places that you actually have to go outside for?

I don't know about other geeks, but irc is good enough for me. ;-)
posted by Pres at 2:29 PM on December 18, 2007

This may sound odd, but I was in Village Books (Bellingham, WA) about a year ago. They had a pretty cool t-shirt to promote the store with a "Reading is Sexy" logo. I remember looking at that and reminiscing about my single days and thinking, "Hmm. How much easier would it have been to have located a cool guy in a pub if he was wearing THAT?"

Just an idea.
posted by jeanmari at 8:46 AM on December 19, 2007

If you're an anime geek, come to Anime Central in May. I guarantee there are lots of geek girls there, with all kinds of interests. In addition, the convention thing means that people are there with all their geek flags flying, so to speak - t-shirts, buttons, bags and other stuff all declaring the things they're into. The range is great - it may be an anime convention, but any convention in the anime/comic book/sf/fantasy/gaming range is a geekfest, pure and simple. Not only will they know Starbuck, you'll probably see someone in costume as her - I did last year!

If you're looking for long-term, wear your 'geek flags', especially wear something that implies you're looking, and see what happens. Talk to people. If the person's into something you like, it's a great easy way to start a conversation. Go to panels about your favorite topic-du-jour, and look around.

If you're looking for the 'meat market' side of things, I recommend the dances. Conventions are still in many people's mindsets a 'guilt-free' hookup zone.

Good luck to you!
posted by erisraven at 10:46 AM on December 24, 2007

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