Looking for Love in All the Right Places?

Dec. 24, 2004 – New York City: While Christians celebrate the big day, my Jewish friends and I attend one of the largest Jewish singles events in New York City, "The Ball." I had no great expectations. All I wanted to do was have fun, and maybe kiss a guy.

I was planning to move to New York in the next couple of months, so although my agenda was "no strings," I was open to meeting someone. We first went to Avalon, where cover charges and drink prices were high, but what other choices did we have unless we wanted to eat Chinese food or see a movie?

After a few drinks, my friend Julie and I moved to the dance floor. Determined, I approached a good-looking guy and we started dancing. I had a great time. The conversation was as good as the thumping speakers allowed; after two hours, I said my goodbyes because my friends and I were ready for the next club.

We took the free limo service shuttling us to The Park. There, I approached Jason. We hit it off, and talked and kissed the rest of the night. Now my behavior at these two clubs is not typical, but I was allowing myself to let loose a little, and I had a great night. Both guys got my number, although I only answered when Jason called. I met up with him again on my next visit to the city, but nothing came of it.

Dec. 24, 2005 – Philadelphia: After having a blast last year in NYC, I was ready to take on Philly. I have now lived downtown for several months, with no future plans to move. I'll admit my expectations were higher for this Christmas Eve.

Not only did I feel more comfortable in Philly, but I knew I would run into more people I knew. I still had no anticipation of meeting my next boyfriend, but I went out with the attitude "you never know."

The evening began at 8, with four Jewish events to attend.

First on the list: dinner at Congregation B'nai Abraham, where more than 200 mostly single Jewish people in their 20s and 30s schmoozed, drank and eyed the crowd. This is the second year the Jewish Heritage Programs' Young Professional Network hosted the event, but my first time attending.

Before I could walk past the welcoming table, about four people I knew greeted me. It took me more than 20 minutes of hellos before I could reach the bar. This has become a typical when I attend such Jewish soirées in Philly because of the small size of the Jewish community, and how many of the same people go to the same events.

Next on the biggest Jewish outing night of the year was the Matisyahu concert at the Theater of Living Arts. The Chasidic singer's performance rocked a mostly Jewish, packed house, full of dancing fans who sang along to his catchy, reggae tunes.

After that, I was off to the Matzo Ball in Old City at Glam.

The ages of attendees ranged from 21 to 50ish. I looked around for guys my age that I was attracted to, but found myself having more fun just dancing with my friends. The crowd, which numbered about 150, was more mixed, since we're not the only non-Christians who want to enjoy Christmas Eve.

All too soon it was time to check out the seventh annual "To Life Party" at World Fusion. My friends remained at Glam to dodge another cover charge, but I was on with my mission, wanting to explore all my options. Luckily, I avoided the long line by arriving after midnight. Inside, I spent most of my time continuing to catch up with all the people I already knew.

The place was huge and hopping, and the average age of the crowd suited me better. I walked around and saw couples who almost certainly just met that night, having a great time. They were doing exactly what I had done the year before: talking, kissing, getting to know one another. I got a little upset because I wasn't one of them.

So, I looked around for someone standing alone.

Lo and behold, I was just one of the more than 650-plus Jews scoping out the scene. I would have settled for a hook-up, but it seemed I had arrived too late, and most people already had paired off. In the end, that was fine; it had been a long night.

An evening like this is often mixed with too much alcohol and too much time spent on physical attraction. Suddenly, it all seemed too superficial for me at this time in my life, even a few drinks deep. I focused on the fact that it's a lot easier to determine if you have an intellectual connection in a different type of setting. I wanted something more than just a kiss.

I returned to Glam to find that two of my guy friends had found girls to hang out with. I joined the dance floor with my other friends, and we wound up closing the bar. My dateless friends and I returned to my apartment, discussing our night out. Last year's ball was the same amount of fun as this year's; the only difference was the original expectations brought to the night.

Which of course brings me to New Year's Eve – a secular holiday filled with lots of expectations to party hard, meet someone new, have someone to share a kiss with when the ball drops from the New York City skyline, and, basically, "have the time of your life."

That's a lot of pressure on us single folks.

If you do have a wonderful night, that's fantastic. But it's not the end of the world if instead you choose a small gathering with friends at your house or a local restaurant, without spending one of those $100 covers.

You might find that if you focus on the good company around you instead of the quest for a potential mate, you'll relax, appreciate the time and set the right tone for a new year.

Do you play hard to get or think "the game" is childish? What dating etiquette do you follow? Email your strategies to: [email protected]



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