I recently started dating again after a longish hiatus and what I quickly remembered was, “Damn, hanging out with attractive men is expensive!” As enjoyable as I find the company of some men, I have economic realities I must consider. As I begin making the rounds of first dates, I am finding that I must not only be creative in how I approach the getting-to-know-you process, but I must cultivate dating partners who are also willing to take a non-traditional approach to first dates. Fortunately, in a groovy cultural clime like Portland, this is not too difficult. Whether you need to take it easy on your pocketbook or you find traditional first dates (yawn) a trifle dull, one of the following five ideas just might be your ticket to an affordable and memorable first date. *
1. Mellow Out Together at a Yin Yoga class at Yoga on Yamhill
This donation based yoga studio (124 SW Yamhill St.) is one of Portland’s true gems. I suggest one of Paul Terrell’s Yin classes, as you don’t have to be good at yoga to do it. It’s just “long, slow, deep” stretching. You can just show up, and they even provide mats. Why not do something completely different on a first date, and calm down?
2. Attend Life Drawing at Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School (Monthly, at Crush Bar)
“But I can’t draw!” you say. Neither can I. That’s not the point. The point is to look at naked or crazily costumed people while drinking, flirting with your date, and making the attempt to be artsy. I say this as someone who’s been an art model for over a decade. Just try. And have fun. Goodness knows there isn’t nearly enough of that in the world right now.
3. Check Out a Comedy Open Mic (It’s Portland; Throw a Rock, You’ll Hit One)
Maybe it’s because I’m a comedian myself, but if you haven’t been to a Portland open mic, you are missing out on the agony and the ecstasy of some of the cheapest thrills around. Admission is free, PBR’s are generally $2, and we need you. Seriously. Most mics have a 5 to 1, comic to civilian ratio. It’s just funnier when you’re around. Which leads me to …
My favorite volunteer activity is gardening and weeding at Common Ground Wellness Center (5010 NE 33rd Ave.) I get exercise, bask in that mellow high from working with dirt, enjoy social time with other volunteers and some alone time, and at the end of the two hours they give me free passes to the center. Second date: naked outdoor hot tub time.
5. Purchase $5 Tix to Theater, Music, and Dance Performances with Arts for All
Do you receive food stamps? Me too! Did you know that with your EBT Oregon Trail card, you can purchase up to two tickets at a mere $5 each for performances by over 70 local arts organizations? No kidding! Well, not with the card itself, as you know that’s for food, but bring your card when you buy your tickets and you’ll get them for $5. See the Arts for All web site for a comprehensive list and links to the participating groups, organizations like the Portland Art Museum, Portland Playhouse Theater, Oregon Ballet Theater, BodyVox, Artists Repertory Theatre, etc., etc. Purge food stamp shame, welcome the culture. Because art is for all, damnit.
There you have it – five frugal-yet-fun and definitely NOT boring options for a first date adventure. You have no excuses now!
*Note: None of these first dates require having a car and all take place in the safety of public spaces. Extra awesome!