Place to socialize with strangers

2010-09-15

in Daily updates, Ottawa

I have always disliked dance clubs, partly because they are excessively noisy. That more than offsets the way in which it is socially acceptable to approach strangers there, given that you are generally unable to discuss anything substantive with them. Coffee shops are quieter, but there is much less license to randomly approach people and engage them in conversation.

It would be nice if there was a kind of commercial venue that combined the spontaneous mixing of a club with the relatively peaceful atmosphere of a coffee shop. Such a place could provide a useful means of meeting a larger number of people, as well as meeting people with whom you don’t have a weak pre-existing connection through a mutual friend. In addition to widening social circles, exposing people to strangers with different perspectives could reduce the incidence of confirmation bias.

Can anyone think of any such venue, in Ottawa, Montreal, or Toronto?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Byron Smith September 15, 2010 at 6:39 pm

The blogosphere…

BuddyRich September 15, 2010 at 7:50 pm

It depends on the coffee shop, but I think you hit on the perfect venue on the head.

For example, I find I can strike up a conversation with complete strangers at the Elgin St. Bridgehead fairly easily, less so the 2 Bridgeheads in my neighbourhood here in Westboro, though the tight confines of the old Westboro location by MEC certainly encourages it.

Otherwise, the next example is not a venue or a commercial establishment but an organization. I would recommend joining a sports team and/or other athletic club (say a run or cycling group, perhaps a hiking one)… though confirmation bias may be present with some clubs and/or teams as like minded people tend to self-select but it is erroneous to say all hockey players believe in the same things.

Now the pickup hockey team of the young conservatives is another matter.

Rachel September 15, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Things are a little different back on the west coast (and people who have lived in multiple parts of Canada repeatedly say Vancouver is a super difficult city to make friends in), but the one place I’ve found people to be super friendly and open to conversation with strangers is the climbing gym. Well, that and places of worship. And AA meetings.

You’ll never be able to get rid of confirmation bias. You’re stuck with it even at the grocery store (in cities, at least).

Now, are you looking for a place where you can strike up conversation with random strangers and possibly never speak to them again, or are you looking to make friends?

alena September 16, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I am not a person who would approach a total stranger, but I find cultural events or volunteer places safe to meet interesting and like-minded people. Taking an unusual course can also also be a fun way to meet people.

Matt September 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm

In the same vein as what Rachel said, Community Centres can be a good place. Adult dodge-ball, indoor soccer, ultimate frisbee, etc. All sports that don’t require an enormous degree of skill to start, but make excellent socializing avenues.

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