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First Dates & First Impressions

Atlantic County Magazine – GACCA Article

Print Date 8.27.2021

By Judy Brenna

I may have mentioned in the past, my rather negative and cynical opinion on the concept of dating. It’s truly and unequivocally awful. The whole idea of attempting to get to know someone by putting on your best everything ((clothes, shoes, make up, jewelry… deodorant)), and all for what? To spend 2-3 hours trying selling yourself to someone that you will likely never hear from again, because you're nervous so of course you’ll do or say something that’s just too weird for even your own standards but you can’t help yourself, only to wake up the following day and try and do it all over again with someone else, in the hopes that one day you might make it to date #2. The one thing I noticed during my "38 first dates adventure" ((#truestory)) was that they were all so… blah. Every single date had a “meh” factor and so generic that they’ve all kind of bled into one super nova memory of colossal unimpressionable moments. ((Save for that one time the guy started randomly spouting bible verses and told me I was going to burn in the fiery pits or Mordor if I didn’t accept Jesus Christ into my heart RIGHT NOW, so I waited until he excused him to go to the restroom to make my great escape)). First impressions are so important. Which leads me to my whole point in this rant-fest: don’t be blah. Be unique. Different venues speak to different people, obviously, but I thought I might highlight some ideas amid planning your date. Oh! And obviously never forget deodorant ((awkward foot shuffle)).

First rule of Date Club, you do not talk about Date Club. The second rule of Date Club? You do not talk about… Just kidding, of course we need to talk about it. First recommendation, arrange a tasting. This is a fantastic way to really get to know your partner. Pick a place that serves unique twists on conventional items, so you’re forced into conversation. You might be surprised what you discover about your partner. Loads can be said about someone when they order a cocktail. Loads can also be said about someone based on their garbage too, but we’re not sneaking behind their garage right now rifling through their trash, that’s a third date scenario, but we won’t go into that ((jotting down notes for next therapy session)). Bar 32, on Tennessee Avenue, is the perfect place for this ((for tastings, not garbage, keep up)). They pair totally unique and carefully crafted cocktails with rivaled desserts, like their Mole Mole S’Mores and their Intense Orange Chocolate Old Fashioned. This place is super hip with a dash of whimsy, and the perfect spot to try different things and share opinions on them. It’s also a great ice breaker, because let’s face it, first dates are chock full of awkwardness and anxiety, and an experience at Bar 32 would create instant ease.

Another great place for a tasting is Tuckahoe Brewing Company on English Creek Avenue in Egg Harbor Township. They have a wide variety of delicious brews to choose from and you and your partner will instantly learn a lot about each other when the two of you select your beer flights. Additionally, Balic Winery, in Mays Landing, is a fantastic option. Celebrating their 55th year creating more than 27 different award-winning, hand-crafted wines, Balic Winery offers everything from traditional red and white varieties as well as roses, sparking wines, flavored wines and even aperitifs. Pack a bag of carefully calculated snacks and meet your date on their terrace. Really want to impress your date? Bring your dog. Balic is a dog-friendly venue and it’s a well-known fact that dogs are fantastic comfort beings that help ease people from tension and anxiety.

My next suggestion is Axe Throwing. Sharing a unique and aggression-releasing experience is a fantastic ice breaker. Ages ago an acting teacher had given great advice about auditioning:have something in your hands, relating to the monologue you're delivering, to refocus your nerves. First dates are SO awkward, people! Incorporating a fun, team-oriented activity is a great way to not only break the ice, but eases your inner tension. This is also great “fun factor” and brings out the Xena and Ragnar in all of us and it forces you into a bonding experience. My two favorite spots are Westecunk Axe Throwing on Baltic Avenue, and AC Axe and Pub at Steel Pier. Check them out.

If you’re none too keen on wielding weapons, dining on the water, watching the sunset is not only uber romantic, but also calms your nerves in the process. It’s a well-known fact both the bay and beach are chock full of positive ions ((because science)), creating a naturally "relaxed and in-harmony" sense of feeling, and there’s nothing more relaxing and majestic than watching a sunset. We’re at the shore so there is a slew of places to choose from but remember to choose wisely. Avoid overly loud places, because let’s face it, the first date is all about getting to know the person, and the last thing you want is loud music and booming chatter drowning out your conversation, or an overly inebriated woman named Janice with too much collagen in her lips constantly shouting that she can't taste the alcohol in her drink and they must have "watered it down". There is also nothing better than dining outside with a cotton candy sky in your peripheral while getting to know your date. A little spot in Kammerman’s Marina, in Atlantic City, is Siren’s Bar and Grill, offering an off-the-beaten-path oasis where you feel like you’ve stepped off the gravel path and into a little chunk of heaven on the outskirts of the Outer Banks. Get to know each other over a great selection of Tapas and Bottled or Draft Beer and soak in the sunset over the bay. And of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t name drop my place of employment ((#shamelessplug)) The Deauville Inn. Just outside the perimeter of Atlantic County you’ll find the DVI, nestled directly on Corson’s Inlet, in Strathmere. Every seat here is a front row seat to the main event ((the sunset in case you weren’t paying attention)). The food and drinks are spectacular, and the sunset is absolutely magical.

And lastly, keep it fun and entertaining and check out Lucky Snake Arcade at Showboat. We’ve discussed Lucky Snake before, so I will spare you the many paragraphs about how truly awesome this place is, but this is a great venue for cutting loose. Think about that scene in The Karate Kid when Daniel-son and Allie go on their first date at the amusement park. It was all about fun and laughs, and chock full of ice breaking abilities.

I’ve given you some things to think about, I know. As if meeting someone and falling in love weren’t hard enough, planning your first impression is tough stuff. But hopefully this list will at the very least spark some ideas in that old noggin of yours, and of course inspire you to not be me and act like an utter buffoon. The most important part, when planning your first date? Pick a place that speaks true to who you are as a person, while keeping in mind the comfort level of your partner. It’s actually not as hard as I’m letting on, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t add some dramatic emphasis. That’s all I got. Go forth and date! Until next week, folks… #stayjerseystrong!

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