Margarita Confessionals: Use this rubric to find the ideal first date spot

A medium sized (16 ounces) margarita on the rocks to accompany dinner at El Salto on Decker Blvd.
A medium sized (16 ounces) margarita on the rocks to accompany dinner at El Salto on Decker Blvd.

It’s Margarita Monday! Each week, we’ll be publishing a story about dating by Lauren Levine and/or Ali Washburn to go along with the latest episode of “The Margarita Confessionals,” a podcast for the jaded dater. You can find it on Soundcloud or iTunes.

Planning a great first date is both an art and a science. You want someplace with just the right atmosphere — fun and appealing, but not stuffy — and the location needs to provide enough ambient noise to minimize any potential awkward silences. With plenty of options to choose from in Charlotte, how do you narrow it down?

Ali and I recently covered a few of our favorite date night picks in the Another Round section on our site.

For more general guidelines about date selection, we present the following ideal date spot rubric:

(1) Allows you to hear each other

Trivia nights are always a great use of time, but on a first date you want to be able to hear each other without straining over the table next to you screaming “BLUE OYSTER CULT! IT’S BLUE OYSTER CULT! WRITE IT DOWN!”

Before you decide on a date location, do a quick website and Facebook scope to see if some particularly raucous special event is happening that night.

(2) Lets you get in and out quickly

Go into a date with optimism, but justttt in case it’s good to pick somewhere that lets you quickly exit stage left if the need presents itself. This is why events like Panthers or Knights games, as fun as they are, aren’t ideal for the first time you’re meeting someone. Save those for dates two and beyond when you know you won’t get stuck hearing about their semi creepy hobby for three hours.

(3) Provides an inviting atmosphere

On this week’s episode we talked about how two different people we know have been asked to dates at grocery stores.

While we’re all about the Whole Foods hot bar and Harris Teeter subs, the atmosphere at these spots leaves something to be desired for a first date. Unless you’re grabbing food and heading to a more inviting locale to eat it (like Freedom Park) pick somewhere that’s more conducive to conversation. “Clean up in Aisle 5!” can really ruin the mood.

(4) Doesn’t create an awkward situation when the bill comes 

Any way you slice it, when the bill arrives on a date, it’s awkward. You pull out your card. He pulls out his card. You do a back and forth with debit cards in hand for a little while until eventually someone caves.

Don’t make the paying situation more uncomfortable than it already is. Places where you order and then move down the line and pay at the end can create even more weirdness. What if you get to the end of the line first? Do you pay to avoid looking presumptuous? Does that accidentally start the process of friend zoning?

To avoid making this aspect of dating more awkward than it needs to be, pick a spot where you’re both ordering at the same time.

Photo: Susan Ardis/The State