Tips for mingling at a crowded nightclub

Nov. 30, 2012 @ 06:40 PM

“We met in a bar,” Nancy Hudspeth told me one day.

“What in the world did your mother say to that?” I asked.

“Well …” Nancy said.

Oh, I get it. She scooted around the issue with her mother Ann, ultimate Southern lady and arbiter of all things proper and acceptable.

Fred and I went barhopping to meet Nancy and husband John. It turns out their “bar” was in the officer’s club at the Army’s Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C. What an upgrade. Hallelujah for mother Ann.

For the life of me I couldn’t picture Nancy the nature lover fitting in with the singles I see in the bar scenes in any metropolis. These places are filled with trendily dressed individuals, all crowded into spaces like sausages in too-small wrappers.

Their officers’ club setting included meeting mutual friends -- not a set-up, planned affair. Not a Friday night search-and-seizure for the weekend.

So unlike Cosmos Cafe after midnight, a Charlotte, N.C. bar that’s a heavenly adventure designed with me in mind. As an initiation rite into the Charlotte singles scene for friend Elyse’s cousin Lynn, however, it wasn’t so good. 

Waiting patiently at a crowded bar for a drink didn’t suit Lynn’s quiet personality. There was no jumping up and down, waving hands or yelling at the bartender.

Lynn’s mix didn’t mingle and she didn’t meet new people. We did.

Freestyle dancing or connecting with strangers wasn’t going to happen for Lynn, just for us. Elyse and I were dragged home.

Cosmos Cafe mirrors most of these hot bar venues.  Many have bar stools, waist-high bar tables and crowds. It’s sometimes hard to get a seat or a drink. Finding a place to store a coat is impossible. Being on your best behavior might stretch the nerves a bit after a work week. However there’s never a better place to preserve civility than in everyone’s favorite watering hole.

My etiquette tips for the crowded bar scene:

  • Be ready with your order – especially in a crowded bar.
  • Only hold a seat for someone if they are in the establishment.
  • Watch your boundaries. Keep your coat and other stuff in your own space not an extra bar stool.
  • Don’t litter the bar – napkins, stirrers and straws aren’t for tearing up in small pieces.
  • Tip well, and don’t talk about it.
  • You may be a talker, but if the people around you aren’t, respect them.
  • Remember: Buying a round of shots for everyone gets intoxication going faster.
  • When the bartender cuts you off, accepts his or her judgment and go home in a cab.