Winter can be a tough time of year for dating, insofar as a lot of classic options—walks in the park, boppin’ down to Coney—are off the table. It’s just harder to be spontaneous when even moving from one location to another can be an unpleasant gauntlet! But if you don’t already have someone lined up with whom you can hole up and order takeout for the rest of the winter, you’re not exactly doomed for the next three months. There’s plenty of romantic (but not too romantic, it’s a first date after all) fun to be had indoors, away from the three foot slush puddles and wintry mix.
So, keeping in mind the highly specific needs of first dates—the ability to escape at the drop of a hat, the presence of activities or easy conversation-starters—we’ve got a few ideas.
Oscar Shorts at Nitehawk
We say it all the time, but there really aren’t a whole lot of local date spots that are better than Nitehawk, the perfect melding of the dinner-and-a-movie experience. For a nice, seasonal option that’s also less of a commitment than a full movie, they’re showing Oscar nominated shorts (and animated shorts) this week. Split a popcorn while you watch, then grab a drink at the bar downstairs when it’s over—there’ll be plenty of material to talk about, which is the whole idea here.
Nitehawk, 136 Metropolitan Ave.
Reading at Mellow Pages, Drinks at Alaska
Now that they’ve put that whole Exxon Mobile stunt behind them, Mellow Pages is back to what they do best—lending out hard-to-find, important books and hosting low-key readings (check their schedule on Facebook for upcoming events). Whether you meet up for a drink before or after is your call, but there’s no better pairing for this than nearby Alaska, the best place we know for relaxed (but romantic) weeknight drinks. The dim lighting, impeccably chosen music, worn-in old couches, and endless selection of whiskey all add up to exactly the right atmosphere for getting to know someone much, much better.
Mellow Pages, 56 Bogart St.
Alaska, 35 Ingraham St.
Ice Skating (and Marmoset Spotting) In Prospect Park
I’m not a person who really enjoys incorporating athletic activities into dates—it’s not what you’d call my best selling point—but for those who are a little more game, Prospect Park’s brand new ice rink is both a fun new novelty and a nice option for a date activity that doesn’t involve sitting around a bar or restaurant spending money. But if you’re not comfortable falling in front of this person yet, have we mentioned those new marmosets at the Prospect Park Zoo? Go see them. Everyone loves looking at adorable animals, and if they don’t, you shouldn’t be dating them.
Drinks at Battery Harris
Normally, I find that it’s best to plan most dates as two-parters. Partly to keep things fresh, and partly, as a good friend puts it, “to make sure you both actually want the date to keep going.” But for this option, you’ll want to stay put: Battery Harris is serving up $2 hot toddies all winter (yes, really), the DJs are always on top of their game, and mood lighting really doesn’t get any better than an outdoor firepit.
64 Frost St., Williamsburg
Karaoke Night, DuckDuck (most Thursday nights)
Now, hear us out. Karaoke’s a thing we tend to save only for the most intimate of friends and the strangest of strangers, sure. But watching a bar full of other people doing karaoke, and maybe, just maybe, having enough beer-and-shot combos to get up and do some together? The best ice breaker (and early bonding experience) we could possibly imagine. Also, this place is right down the block from Danny’s Pizzeria II if you need to jump ship and laugh about someone’s terrible Rod Stewart cover over some pizza and stuffed shells.
161 Montrose Ave.
Point Break Live at Littlefield
Provided you’re both coming from the same frame of reference—one that involves a good deal of Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze—Littlefield’s live, highly participatory version of Point Break is one hell of a time, and one that makes it impossible for either you or your date to take things too seriously. (Their website warns,”You will get wet, you will be robbed at gunpoint, you will be spattered with fake blood and possibly even thrown on the floor by the belligerent bank robbers or molested by over-sexed surfers, you might even get hit with a meatball sandwich.” Worth keeping in mind). There are upcoming shows on the 13th (though the day before Valentine’s day is risky, we’d say), and again on March 6th. Failing that, Wyatt Cenac’s Monday Night Train shows are a reliably wonderful time for everyone involved.
622 Degraw St.
Dinner at Krowleskie Jadlo
Dinner and drinks are classic, of course, but again, we’re looking for options that’ll give you two something to talk about and bond over. Not only is the food at Krowleskie Jadlo—otherwise known as the Polish restaurant with the suits of armor outside—wonderful (and easy to share), their cocktails are surprisingly cheap and large. More importantly, the project of deciphering the menu and speculating as to the identities of the polish royalty they have pictured all over the walls will keep you and your date talking long after the last pierogies are gone. Plus, you can tell a lot about a person based on whether or not they’re willing to try lard spread.
694 Manhattan Ave.
Big Terrific at Cameo Gallery
Max Silvestri’s long-running weekly show at Cameo is one of the borough’s best, most reliable comedy showcases, and we’re pretty sure we’ve heard scientific data about laughing with someone being the best way to bond with them, or something like that. At any rate, one of the most important things to find out early about a person you’re dating is whether or not they have a sense of humor. Also, it’s free, which is a big selling point in and of itself.
93 North 6th St., Wednesday Nights
Morbid Anatomy Library at Proteus Gowanus
While we’re very excited for the Morbid Anatomy Library to move into a larger, more permanent space when the Morbid Anatomy Museum opens this spring, no need to wait to check out some taxidermied kittens having a tea party. (Goes without saying, though, that this isn’t something to spring on someone for the first date. Make sure you’re both into this kind of thing, or it could get weird.) The library is open to visitors from 2-6pm on Saturdays, and happens to be located inside Proteus Gowanus [http://proteusgowanus.org/projects-in-residence/], meaning you can spend the afternoon checking out their small, pleasantly odd exhibitions, then head over to Lavendar Lake for an early drink—no better way to cap off a day like this than with a “Hand of Doom” cocktail, after all.
Proteus Gowanus, 543 Union St.
Lavender Lake, 383 Carroll St.