The headlines are great but starting to sound a bit redundant: Charlotte is great for millennials! It’s the fastest growing craft beer town! It’s a great place to find a job! So why is it so hard to find a date (or at least a good date … ) in the Queen City? It’s not, actually. Sounds crazy, right? Hold on a minute. Trust us. We checked with some experts and found some of the cooler ways for singles to connect — and none of them involve swiping. Promise!
Ali Washburn and Lauren Levine host a daily radio show (“The Margarita Confessionals”) on which they talk about the Charlotte dating scene and offer up some fun suggestions and even some conversation starters:
“Want to meet someone who likes hanging out at breweries? Go hang out at breweries! Put yourself in places where there will be like-minded individuals, put your phone down, and talk to the people around you. ‘What kind of beer are you drinking?’ is a super easy conversation starter at a brewery,” the “Margarita” girls say.
They add, “If you work Uptown, we would highly recommend stopping by ANY of the coffee shops during the day and, again, put your phone down. There are likely at least 10 attractive men surrounding you!”
Charlotte matchmaker Laurie Berzack says, “Let’s face it, Charlotte is a big but small city. The dating pool is healthy, but it’s not unlimited, so getting outside the norm is crucial [in order] to meet someone new.”
Need some specific suggestions? We’ve got you covered.
It started with just 25 people back in 2014, and three years later more than 400 people were at the anniversary party. Originally meant as an alternative to the standard business card-swap networking event, it’s turned into the cool way for millennials and young professionals to connect in person — often after first meeting through social media. Each month, attendees meet up at a different host brewery around town. Everyone wears a name tag and is encouraged to post about the night on social media. Founder Corri Smith says, “It’s a good place to meet because everyone is just there to have a good time and chill. The conversation then lies in ‘What beer are you drinking?,’ which is way more approachable and fun than ‘What do you do for a living?'”
In the three years since it started, Smith says several romances have blossomed, though no marriages just yet. “There’s still time,” she says, noting the event happens on the last Thursday of the month.
Run (don’t walk) to a brewery
Five-and-a-half years ago, NoDa Brewery formed the first brewery running club in the city. In the prime season there are more than 100 runners each Wednesday. “It is super laid-back. You just show up and run, and afterwards we stick around and socialize while drinking beer,” says Carla Garrison-Mattos, the NoDa Run Club coordinator. She says they’ve had at least one couple that met through the run club and points out, “It’s a great way to meet someone as you really are. Let’s face it, if your future partner can get past your sweaty appearance, they’re totally the one for you!”
If it seems like so much of the single scene in Charlotte revolves around the breweries, that’s because it does. There are plenty of organized events at breweries all the time (everything from yoga with goats to food truck gatherings to cornhole tournaments, festivals and more), but you don’t need a specific reason to go to one of the breweries – just grab your girls and go! SO many of them have communal-style tables that “force” you to meet people. Just pay attention when you’re sitting down!
That’s not a typo, it’s a brand-new word and a brand-new concept that got started right here in Charlotte last year – by a matchmaker! So, duh! This event is all about making a match. The coolest part is that it combines socializing with giving back (philanthropy) … get it? It’s Philanthrodating™! Laurie Berzack, owner of Carolinas Matchmaker, even trademarked the term. “People know volunteering is a great way to meet new people. And if you’re a naturally generous, philanthropic person, you’ll want to be in a relationship with someone who fosters that same kindness,” Laurie says. So far there have been four events raising more than $12,000 for Charlotte charities. As a professional matchmaker Laurie says, “So many singles are scared to go to new things and are intimidated to take a risk. Most of the time you’ve saturated your own circle and social spots, and really need to break away.” She even offers up a success story as proof.
“One of my favorite stories is a woman who came to my first Philanthrodating™ event and made a friend there. Months later, that friend introduced her to a guy friend of hers, and they are now dating very seriously. It never would have happened without my event as a catalyst for their friendship as they run in completely different circles!”
It was the cool thing to do. Then it wasn’t. Now it is again. Dozens of bars and restaurants offer trivia nights almost every day of the week all across the Queen City. Know your music? Ed’s Tavern or Angry Ale’s is your spot. Sports? Check out Brazwells. Trivia may be the easiest way to start a conversation ever, no wingwoman required.
Yelp reviews often mention fun trivia nights around town, and Charlotte’s Yelp coordinator Nikki Wolfe says they’re good for meeting people — and more! “Trivia nights are also good for first dates,” she says. “It gives you an activity so you’re not forcing interaction.”
Bob Bair should know. He’s been leading a trivia night somewhere in the Queen City since 1999. “It tapered off a few years ago, and now they’re really starting to pop up all over the place again. I have several couples that were dating at trivia and now are married.” He’s now at Big Ben every Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
“I think trivia can be a really good place to meet,” Bob says. “There’s conversation going on – there’s always something to chat about.”
Beer + Fitness = perfect way to meet
Alicia Thomas, founder of Work For Your Beer, says, “SO many people in Charlotte are interested in both craft beer and fitness … and at the events, you automatically have two things in common with anyone you meet at the class: a love of local beer and an interest in the workout you’re doing!” Check out Work For Your Beer‘s master calendar of beer fitness activities to find one that you like.
There are so many beer fitness activities to choose from — whatever your workout of choice is, chances are there’s a class at a brewery that you can go to. If you’re looking for an activity that has a good mix of men and women, Alicia suggests Sip & Sweat, a weekly bootcamp at Lenny Boy Brewing on Sundays at 10 a.m. It’s a circuit-training class that uses only bodyweight exercises, and it’s just $5, which includes a 6 oz. pour of kombucha after class. She adds, “That type of class is a great way to meet people because you’re all in it together. Everyone is pushing themselves, working hard, sweating — and you’ve automatically got something to talk about when class is over! ‘Man, that was a tough workout’ is a great conversation starter.” And the beer helps too!
If nothing is clicking, Ali and Lauren say, “Be positive! Yes, dating is exhausting, and you may have met quite a few people who didn’t treat you as they should. But do your best to bring positivity into each first date you go on. No one wants to sit across from someone and immediately hear them ranting about their boss or the horrible dates they’ve been on in the past. If you feel like you can’t bring your positive, happy self to dating, work on getting there. This may be through therapy, by finding hobbies that make you feel good about yourself or by taking a break from dating for a bit.”
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