Valentine's Day

We planned the perfect V-Day for lovers, haters and those who are simply iffy on the gooey holiday.

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  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson; Valentine: Kathryn Brazier

    VDayEmilyDonald

    Emily Berl, 25 and Don Diego, 26

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson; Valentine: Kathryn Brazier

    VDAYJose

    Jos Dennis, 36

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson; Valentine: Kathryn Brazier

    VDayKae

    Kae Burke, 24

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson; Valentine: Kathryn Brazier

    VDayZane

    Zane Latta, 30

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson; Valentine: Kathryn Brazier

    VDayClaraJake

    Clara Heyworth, 27 and Jake Stevens, 33

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson; Valentine: Kathryn Brazier

VDayEmilyDonald

Emily Berl, 25 and Don Diego, 26

RECOMMENDED: Valentine's Day ideas for New Yorkers

Emily Berl, 25, photographer
Don Diego, 26, writer and barista; Park Slope, Brooklyn
What they want:
The couple, who have been dating for five years, are looking for a noncheesy, but still romantic, date.
What they like:
Seeing movies; drinking at Sunset Park watering hole Bar 718; their pit bull, Lola.
The plan:
The Brooklyn Academy of Music offers a classic—and classy—date night with its Valentine's Day Dinner and a Movie (Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Ave between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-636-4100, bam.org; Mon 14 at 6, 8:15pm; dinner and movie $64, movie only $7--$12). A screening of the 1938 rom-com Holiday—featuring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant as two points of a love triangle—is paired with a fancy-pants dinner from BAMcaf, boasting such yummy options as roasted-butternut-squash custard, wild mushroom pappardelle, and warm chocolate fondant (plus a gratis glass of champagne—an essential component of any romantic evening). 

Jos Dennis, 36, graphic designer; Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
What he wants:
"This year I'm not doing Valentine's Day," says Dennis. Nevertheless, he'd like to be out socializing that night.
What he likes:
Drawing; Powers Irish whiskey; taking long walks.
The plan:
Dennis can hang with other skeptics at The Paramount Hotel (235 W 46th St at Eighth Ave; 212-764-5500; Mon 14 5--11pm; $50, reservations required), where chef Mark Spangenthal will prepare a prix-fixe dinner devoted to foods that you'd never eat on a date, such as garlic and onions. Postdinner, Dennis can laugh his ass off during (The Bell House, 149 7th St between Second and Third Aves, Gowanus, Brooklyn; thebellhouseny.com; 7pm; $12, advance $10), in which comedians will regale the audience with less-than-amorous true tales. 

Kae Burke, 24; performer and operator, the House of Yes (houseofyes.org); Williamsburg, Brooklyn
What she wants:
Burke is looking for a V-Day celebration that's "really random, totally hilarious, fun and not serious."
What she likes: Creating things; laughing.
The plan: There'll be giggles aplenty during (UNDER St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Pl between First Ave and Ave A; 212-777-6088, horsetrade.info; Mon 14 at 7pm; $5), during which the 16-time winner of the Moth StorySLAM will spew hilarious tales of his romantic foibles. Burke can also stick around for a performance by improv musicians BTK Band (9pm; $5), who'll spin their own love (and heartbreak) into off-the-cuff rock ballads. Then, she can mingle at the Match Made in Hell party (Hell Gate Social, 12-21 Astoria Blvd between 12th and 14th Sts, Astoria, Queens; 718-204-8313; 10pm; free), where singer Laurie Lehner will belt out cathartic covers of bittersweet songs (expect to hear Cee-Lo's "Fuck You" among the selections), and the bartenders will be slinging Valentine's Day drinks like the Stupid Cupid ($6), a mix of champagne, vanilla vodka and cherry juice.

Zane Latta, 30, restaurant manager; West Village
What he wants:
"Valentine's Day is basically a tool of advertising and marketing types to get us to spend inordinate amounts of money out of a sense of obligation and guilt," says Latta. So, uh, nothing schmaltzy, then?
What he likes:
Discovering new restaurants and bars; comedy shows; puppies.
The plan: Being coupled isn't required to enjoy the (New York Transit Museum, Boerum Pl at Schermerhorn St, Downtown Brooklyn; 718-694-1600, mta.info/mta/museum; Mon 14 6--8pm; free), inspired by the titular Craigslist ads, featuring New York Times writer Alan Feuer (who will read from his "Poetic Connections" column) and artist Sophie Blackall's fanciful interpretations of those often-hilarious postings. After chugging a few Brooklyn Brewery beers, Latta can continue his nontraditional V-Day at Gemini & Scorpio's Steamy Valentine's Night party (Brooklyn Banya, 602 Coney Island Ave between Beverly Rd and Ave C, Flatbush, Brooklyn; geminiandscorpio.com; 7pm--2am; $35--$85), where he can relax in the Russian bathhouse's steam room with a shot of vodka (and other scantily clad urban adventurers).

Clara Heyworth, 27, marketing manager at Verso Books (versobooks.com)
Jake Stevens, 33, managing director at Verso Books; Fort Greene, Brooklyn
What they want:
The couple wants to hit an event that's seductive and swanky—something like a partnertship between high-end lingerie shop Coco de Mer combined with low-key Brooklyn resto Roman's.
What they like: Playing pool at Fort Greene bar the Alibi; outdoor bars; chatting about politics.
The plan: An appropriately sexy evening is in store at (Highline Ballroom, 431 W 16th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves; dancesofvice.com; Mon 14 7pm--midnight; $15--$30; $10 food or drink minimum at tables), a collaborative effort between party-planners Dances of Vice and tango show producer Sergio Segura. Heyworth and Stevens can get close during an all-levels tango class led by Strictly Tango Dance Company (they'll want to dress the part so they don't look shabby on the dance floor). Then, members of Strictly Tango and Medianoche Burlesque will show the crowd how the pros tango, with musical accompaniment from the JP Jofre New Tango Quartet. The Highline will also offer a decadent menu; snacks include lamb lollipops with apricot-mint couscous ($25) and crispy banana spring rolls with chocolate--peanut butter ganache and cinnamon ice cream ($10).

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