A few months ago, I boldly ventured out into the depths of a Saturday night alone—and despite my initial hesitation about showing up to an art gallery opening without a companion or five by my side (wouldn’t people think I was weird? pathetic? something worse?), I wound up having one of the most fun nights in recent memory. I felt so inspired by my experience that I wrote about it, procuring a how-to guide of sorts for other like-minded folks who don’t want to wait around on indecisive (and unavailable) friends to keep their social lives afloat.
I’d been out on my own alone at night before my big debut, of course—to movie theatres, cocktail parties where I knew I’d likely bump into a few familiar faces, and other places requiring a minimal commitment to socializing with the unknown—and looking back, I realize that it was the gradual escalation of exposure to situations I’d deemed intimidating that allowed me to waltz into an intimate space full of strangers like I owned the place instead of clinging to a corner, counting down the minutes until I'd permit myself to leave.
Going out alone might not be for everyone, but if you’re intrigued and want to give it a try, here are five places where you can test the waters before swimming out to the deep end, whether you’re single, attached, or just want to try something new. If you feel weird or uncomfortable, you can always go home—but with so many options to explore in this fabulous city of ours, why would you?
110 Brookline Street, Central Square
This is the gallery whose opening I attended and mentioned in my original piece. Blanc is intimate and slightly off the beaten path (you’ll have to head toward Cambridgeport to find it, about a seven minute walk from the Central Square T stop), and hosts opening receptions each time a new exhibit is ready for its reveal (about once a quarter, from what I’ve observed)—replete with a DJ, a (cheap) cash bar and like-minded folks who care about local culture. Add your name to the mailing list to find out about future exhibitions and events.
Piattini Wine Café
226 Newbury Street, Back Bay
There are so many wonderful things I could say about Piattini, a hidden, tiramisu-flavored gem amidst the “see and be seen” restaurants of Newbury Street. But for all intents and purposes here, it’s quite simply an easy place to have lunch (or dinner) on your own, due to its menu portions (piattini means “small plates” in Italian), compact, cozy space and accommodating staff. I recommend the melanzane affumicate—and a generously-poured glass of red wine from their award-winning list.
Wally’s Jazz Club
427 Chester Square, South End
I’ve been to many live music venues on my own before, and truth be told, it can be obnoxious if you’re floating solo in a sea of groups at a general admission show—watch the personal space, people! Wally’s kills two birds with one stone: first, it’s iconic, and despite its unassuming facade, has hosted a series of jazz greats over the years. Second, it’s small—are you sensing a theme here?—and can reach capacity early in the evening, and because seats are far and few between, no one will notice (or care) if you’re standing by yourself or with a small entourage.
279 Harvard Street, Coolidge Corner
Bookworms, rejoice! Brookline Booksmith is the perfect destination if you’re hoping to catch an author’s reading, but don’t feel like subjecting yourself to one of Boston’s many (sometimes, admittedly cliquey) storytelling series. Get on the mailing list, or check the link for a well-maintained calendar of events. Start here and then catch a movie at the Coolidge Corner Theatre across the street, or finish at the Booksmith before a quite bite to eat at the Regal Beagle.
Boston Center for Adult Education
122 Arlington Street, Bay Village
Beyond its many course offerings, the BCAE regularly hosts special events and exhibits (which you can find out about by signing up for the center’s email list or by reading Boston.com, which often includes the events in its A&E listings—or, by signing up for a class). In fact, the BCAE is hosting a photography exhibit (with wine and cheese reception) this Friday in its gallery from 6:00-7:30 PM—and did I mention it’s free? RSVP is required, which you can do here.
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