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CSO ClassicEncounters

The solo date

No date? No problem. Chicago's biggest cultural institutions give singles plenty of places to mingle.


Evening Associates at the Art Institute of Chicago
What it is If you know the difference between modern and contemporary art, you’re all set to join this group, which throws monthly parties (think themed DJs, drinks and mini art lessons) at the museum and other art-friendly locales. “We consider ourselves the young professional arm of the Art Institute of Chicago,” says Evening Associates assistant director Jaime Norwood.
Why you can show up solo If you arrive alone, Norwood guarantees that someone from the organization will strike up a conversation with you. Proof: “A member e-mailed me and said she was apprehensive to attend on her own,” says Norwood. “So I offered to introduce her to the board members.”
Who goes Event attendance is around 200 to 400 culture lovers.
Next event On November 12, 6–9pm, join a scavenger hunt of AIC’s new Arts and Crafts exhibit, “Apostles of Beauty.” Membership costs $110 (which includes an $80 museum membership). Discounted individual event ticket prices are TBA. Sign up at

First Fridays at the Museum of Contemporary Art
What it is The city’s first museum after-hours meat market, ahem, program, this monthly fete has spurred hookups since 1996. While you’re eyeing fellow singles, dive on a Wolfgang Puck buffet, toss back drinks and enjoy decidedly non-art games—cornhole on the Sol LeWit sculpture, anyone?
Why you can show up solo A G5 iMac digital bar—a fancy name for a computer kiosk—asks you about your reaction to artwork and then spits out a color-coded sticker that describes your personality. Automatic pickup line: “Hey, you’re red, I’m blue. Wanna make purple?”
Who goes Annual attendance ranges from 1,600 to 2,400 culture and cornhole lovers.
Next event The theme for October 2, 6–10pm, is “myth.” Tickets cost $16, for MCA members $8. Order advance tickets ($11, members $8) at 312-397-4010.

The Scene at the Goodman Theatre
What it is See and be seen and, uh, see scenes at this theater networking group.
Why you can show up solo To join the Scene, you buy a package of three tickets—each features a different play and a pre-show gathering at a hip Loop resto. Because it’s a subscription, “people become accustomed to one another and strike up conversations,” says Goodman publicity director Denise Schneider.
Who goes Each play brings in 300 young professionals.
Next event September 23, stop in at Nick’s Fishmarket for cocktails at 5:30pm, and then see the Goodman’s production of Stoop Stories at 7:30pm. An annual subscription costs $125. For tickets, call 312-443-3800.

ClassicEncounters at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
What it is If Beethoven’s Ninth is the breadth of your classical knowledge, you can still woo ’em with your photographic memory of all things Led Zeppelin. At these classical-music meets classic-rock gatherings, you’ll start the night out mingling with music lovers over gratis booze and food, then gather pre-concert for a lecture from WXRT DJ Terri Hemmert and CSO artistic director Martha Gilmer. They’ll discuss the artists, the history of the pieces and how they link with rock and pop history.
Why you can show up solo “The mingling is a large part of the experience, especially because there’s alcohol,” says public relations coordinator Christopher Slavik.
Who goes The audience is a mix of 30- to 50-year-old mainstream-music listeners curious about classical music and classical-music lovers who are interested in pop.
Next event On October 29, Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays Mendelssohn. Tickets must be bought with a subscription to four or eight concerts. To order, call 312-294-3000.

Plan B We hear you; you’re not in the mood for culture. Whether you want to drink alone or meet someone new, these bars have your glass ready.

The Paramount Room
Just ’cause you’re drinking alone doesn’t mean you want the same ol’ pickup line. Try this little bar for a peaceful, solo drink. 415 N Milwaukee Ave, 312-829-6300; Mon–Fri 4pm–2am, Sat noon–3am, Sun noon–10pm.

The Second Story Bar
Fellas searching for fellas need look no further than this storied gay bar. 157 E Ohio St, second floor, 312-923-9536; Sun–Fri noon–2am, Sat noon–3am.

The Lockwood
At this hotel bar, you can pick up a tourist or comfortably sit alone and marvel at the 19th-century cathedral ceilings. Palmer House Hilton lobby, 17 E Monroe St, 312-917-3404; daily 11am–midnight.

Most hungry-eyed guys sidled up to this trader lounge have wedding rings—but, hey, if that doesn’t stop you… 30 S Wacker Dr, 312-559-1515; Mon–Fri 5-8:30pm, Sat 5-7:30pm.

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