The word ‘Wallflower’ could apply to me in a social setting surrounded by strangers. I’m not a complete recluse, but it takes me time to warm up to people I don’t know. Put me in a social setting with people I know, though, and I can skip the warm-up. This past weekend was a good example of that.
Friday night, some friends of mine (two married couples) invited me out to The Flying Saucer for some drinks and good times. I grab a ride with one of the couples (because I’m a responsible drinker) and we set out for downtown.
It’s a typical Friday crowd, and there’s some set up going on for M.Y. Affliction who will be playing later. The other couple shows up, and the five of us share good times and good laughs for several hours. The band had some talent, but the sound guy needed either to up the vocal volume or down to instruments. But for Columbia, I’ve come to expect decent talent with bad sound. As it got later, the bar got pretty packed, and my Personal-Space Alarm started going off, so we called it an evening.
Ok… I opened with “I’m not a complete recluse,” and then I mentioned that I have a Personal-Space Alarm. I might need to clarify that. I like hanging out in social situations. I like to watch people. I like the atmosphere. I don’t like people all up in my bubble, and my bubble is a little bigger than your average person’s bubble. It was so crowded that some girl kept bumping her butt up against the back of one of my friend’s heads.
Saturday night, a friend of mine and I headed to The Art Bar in search of some good music. DJ-Triskyl was up from Auguista, and we like hearing him spin. The Last Dance was also going on later, and we were interested in hearing them. The Art Bar is more my speed when it comes to personal space. This isn’t because it doesn’t get crowded, but because it rarely gets crowded in the dance room, and that’s where I spend most of my evening.
The music was good. Triskyl plays a lot of hard-edged EBM (Electronic Body Music) and Industrial music that always appeals to me. The other DJ (I didn’t catch her name) played a mix of some softer tunes, which I need to be a relaxed mood for. An opening act played some pretty good songs. (I got his name, but seem to have forgotten it.) The Last Dance went on and they were pretty impressive.
The difference between Friday night and Saturday night, though, was that Friday was a night of good friends and good laughs, and Saturday night was a night of good music. I spent almost all of Saturday evening with my back propped up against a wall and my head bobbing in time with the beat. The only new people I met are the ones who actually walked up and initiated contact.
There’s a problem with both situations, of course. In the comfort of a booth with my friends, I’m not really meeting any new people. Leaning against a wall, entranced by music, is also not going to net any new names into my phonebook. The downside, though, is that both nights were very enjoyable for me.
Would I have as much fun if I were to break my habits and start initiating contact with strangers? I have to confess the idea of doing that makes me nervous. It’s not that I care about the approval of strangers, but more of an issue of what would I talk about? Aside from the situation of the moment, what else do I have in common with this stranger? What does everyone else talk about in these situations?
I guess that’s why they call them ice-breakers.

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