Nothing stimulates conversation better than a round of darts or an overly competitive game of ping pong.
First dates can be difficult. Once you get past the “what do you do at work” and “where are you from” questions about a person’s basic bio, it can be difficult to keep the conversation going. Questions are hard to think about in real time. Nervous silences abound. Making eye contact is difficult. It happens.
So what’s to do when the conversation dries up and you’ve still got half your drink left? You’re certainly not ending the night – that $13 cocktail is no goes to the trash. Or maybe the date is going well and you don’t want it to end—but an extra hour isn’t worth another double-digit libation. That’s where those eight raised bars come in. From ping pong to darts, arcade games and axes, they offer something to do when you and your date run out of things to say.
If old-time speakeasy vibes and eclectic art aren’t enough to get the conversation flowing, your competitive spirit certainly will. Full of dartboards (plus some high-tech gadgets to keep track of the score for you), Flight Club is more than just a bar with a lone board in the corner. Accelerate to your own private oche—or the throwing line — aim and destroy your partner with your skill. An added bonus? Handcrafted food and cocktails served directly on target.
60 Seaport Blvd., Suite 215, Boston, 617-855-9888, flightclubdarts.com/boston.
The fact that most people seem to fall into one of two camps – those who are fantastic at bowling and those who really, really they aren’t – it just makes this stereotypical encounter idea all the more intriguing. Adding in the Lucky Strike’s LED-lit bowling lanes and lively atmosphere make it nearly impossible for you and your date not to have a good time, no worries about entering snooze territory. If one of you ends up getting too many gutter balls, pool tables and arcade games serve as a welcome distraction.
145 Ipswich St., Boston, luckystrikeent.com/fenway.
There’s nothing like player-versus-player competition. No one knows this better than SPIN – whose founders were right when they realized that a ping pong social club is exactly what a city needs. Because whether you’re an expert or a novice, ping pong is undeniably a good time (with the added bonus that SPIN has an employee who will collect all the errant balls for you). Grab a drink with your pong partner before booking a table and making your way to it. Who knows, maybe the two of you will fall in love and participate in the weekly league.
30 Melcher St, Boston, 617-404-2272, wearespin.com/boston.
For those lacking the hand-eye coordination for, say, throwing darts, Boston’s only board game bar offers a little more sedate activity. Each game experience is immersive, with sound effects, music and narration. This means that while snacking on loaded nachos or JP Licks Ice Cream, conversation about things other than the game at hand can take a back seat (especially if you’re playing with more than just the two of you). Who cares about the last book your date read when you’re working to solve a murder or defeat a dungeon boss?
1478 Tremont St., Boston, 617-708-0172, tavernophthales.com.
Did your date say something you didn’t really like? Channel it to the axe. Somerville’s indoor axe-throwing venue offers arguably one of the most adventurous meeting places on the market. Just sign up for a time slot and you can throw axes at a target for an hour or two. (But not with reckless abandon. With safety precautions and some instructions, of course). The surprisingly difficult task of hitting the target will be the center of attention – and a grunt of effort here and there will fill any awkward silence.
2 Union Square, Somerville, 857-997-0025, urbanxes.com/boston.
A night out in this mecca of retro arcade gaming and Big Night Entertainment Group’s high-energy bar concept is sure to provide plenty of conversation. How can Pac-Man in a vintage-style machine offer anything less than a night of fun? Wednesday nights are player-versus-player game nights (possibly the ideal day of the week for a date). From skee-ball and air hockey to Jurassic Park pinball, giant Jenga and dozens of board games, there’s something for everyone. We just hope your date agrees.
42 Province St., Boston, 617-482-1213, versusboston.com.