30. Austin Sports and Social Club

In the interest of expanding my social circle, I willingly signed up for summer kickball when my friend, Juliana, was putting a team together.  For 8 weeks, I’ve committed to playing the game with my co-ed team against a new team every week.  It’s fun, light-hearted competition that makes socializing with different people every week inevitable.  We chose to play kickball because basically everyone who went to an American elementary school knows how to play the game, meaning anyone can play.  It gives us all a reason to get out after work, enjoy the outdoors and laugh – get a bunch of your friends together over a playground game like kickball and you’ll laugh a lot!  What I discovered is that meeting men in this setting is so easy.  The games are fun and the atmosphere is playful.  Best of all introductions are expected so the pressure is off.

Austin Sports and Social Club offers a variety of sports at varying skill levels from which you may choose.  If meeting great guys is your objective, start a team with a handful of your girlfriends and have them recruit male friends for your team from their social circles.  Instantly, there’s a new group of guys for you to get to know in a place where it’s easy to do so.  Eight weeks means 8 games and 8 scheduled opportunities to meet someone new.  Go out and play!

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25. Hopdoddy Burger Bar – 1400 South Congress

What do beer, burgers and fries have to do with men?  Apparently everything.  That’s why I’m adding Hopdoddy Burger Bar to my list of Austin Hot Men Hot Spots.  If you’re hungry and don’t mind eating out of paper containers with plastic utensils, plop yourself down at Hopdoddy Burger Bar on South Congress and grab a beer, burger and fries; that’s pretty much all that they serve here.  This place keeps it simple, which is probably the appeal for its patrons, and what they do they do well.  One of my best girlfriends loves this place and all things on the menu, including the beer.  There for a late dinner on a Thursday night, she and I were 2 of probably only 10 girls in a space that was otherwise packed with men of all sorts, thereby making this a great Hot Spot.  I’ve been there once before with her on the weekend a tad earlier in the day and this was not the case.  So, as with other Hot Spots, it would seem that timing is everything at this place.  The entire wait staff here is flirty and fun, lending itself to the light-hearted, social atmosphere.  When you’re starving for a burger after a long day at work, make the most of your late dinner during the week and head over to Hopdoddy Burger Bar.

24. Bicycle Film Festival

Any girl reading this in 2010 has only until Sunday, December 5th, to experience this Austin Hot Spot.  If you miss out, you’ll have to either catch up with it in another city or wait until next year.  The Bicycle Film Festival is a fantastic Hot Spot.  I happened to go with a couple of my girlfriends who are avid cyclists that also race.  Once we settled into our seats, I couldn’t help but notice that there were less than 10 girls in the room.  While the films were well-done and entertaining, for sure, the men there were thrilled to meet some women who were even a little interested in a hobby they love.  It is a prominently indie crowd with a sprinkling of yuppies.  So, if slender, satchel-bearing guys with disheveled hair and skinny jeans (the quintessential Austin-boy look) is your thing, get your tickets today and go.  Films are showing at 301 Chicon Ave.  Check the Bicycle Film Festival website for additional, festival-related events.

23. Dirt Derby – Cyclocross Races Tuesdays At Del Valle

It was an accident that I found this litte-known Hot Spot.  Hungry and bored, I was requesting the company of one of my good girlfriends over dinner.  Instead, I found myself heading out to a familiar supercross track in Del Valle to watch her and our friend, Jordan (who we affectionately named “Pup” as he is young and totally cute), race cyclocross.  This racing is different than anything I’ve ever seen.   It’s crazy.  They ride what appear to be road bicycles with tires having quite a bit more tread to ride on the dirt (who cares, right?).  There are places on the course where riders have to dismount their bicycles and carry them to hop over barriers.  Because this is a supercross track, there are some pretty steep “jumps,” but the cyclists don’t have the speed of a dirtbike, so the jumps end up being short, steep, pointed hills.

As outdoor motocross is to superbike, so is cyclocross to crit racing.  If you’re not into racing, I realize I may have lost you with that statement.  Just hang in there with me; I have a good point to make.  Different than crits, the atmosphere in cyclocross is really, really laid back.  Nobody’s in any hurry, the competition is light-hearted and the atmosphere is very social.  Plenty of folks grill and have a beer after racing.  People standing trackside hoot and holler for their friends as they ride by.  There’s also a particular hilltop along the outside of sharp right-hander (in motocross it’s called a “berm”) where people stand with dollar bills that the competitors try to grab as they sweep by on their bicycles.  See what I mean?  Crazy!

Dress casually and plan on getting a little dirty.  This is a dirtbike track after all. Being such a social gathering place, it would be easy for you and a group of friends to plan to tailgate here and get to know some of the guys getting in their weekly racing fix.  There is no entry fee to watch.  Spectator friendly, you can walk around to get a different vantage point and can see several sections of the track all at once from just about anywhere.  The biggest field of racers start at 7pm, for the intermediate class.  Pros race just after 8pm.  Work this into your schedule as soon as you can because the season officially wraps in mid-December.  I’ve been informed by the promoter that it’s very possible that the series could be extended into early February.  Regardless, be sure to check the Dirt Derby website to confirm the schedule, especially if it’s raining.  The track is often closed on rainy days.  You will definitely meet some super-nice guys, should you choose to go and socialize.  Entertaining bicycle racing is a bonus.

Relationship Tip #8: Avoid Alcohol On Your First Date

There’s a reason why driving under the influence of alcohol is against the law:  it impairs your judgement.  Why should your dating life be any different?  I mean, we are talking about your life here, aren’t we?

All hail alcoholic beverages – the most widely-accepted social lubricant!  A shy guy comes out of his shell; one who is up-tight loosens up; if he has little personality, suddenly he’s the life of the party; if he’s afraid to speak to a woman, he’s got new-found courage to approach her; affection is abundant!  “I love you, man!”  What you’re left with when he sobers up is a silent, anal-retentive clam who can hardly carry a conversation with you much less give you a hug to say, “Hello.”

What I just described is the extreme, of course.  You have to really consider, though, why you or your date would require consuming an alcoholic beverage on the date in the first place.  More than likely it’s to ease any social tension because being with someone for the first time whom you don’t know can be a bit awkward initially, right?  Really tell the truth about it and you’ll find it’s simply someone trying to be something that he or she is not.  Add to that, it’s someone trying to make something happen that otherwise would not without the alcohol to get over the weirdness of being with someone new.  That’s tough for anyone to admit.  By the way, there’s no way you can say with all honesty that after you’ve had a glass of wine or two you are really being your true self.

When you consume alcohol on a date, your defenses are down.  That means you might say “yes” when you would normally say “no” to __________<fill in the blank>.  Think back on some past dating experiences when you woke up thinking, “Ugghhh!  I can’t believe I did that!”  What was it?  Did you say something stupid?  Sleep with a guy?  Go somewhere you usually wouldn’t?  Drink too much and drive yourself home?  For crying out loud, I’m famous for doing and saying stupid, annoying, offensive things that I regret even when I’m sober.  When sitting across from someone I barely know, the last thing I want to do is fuel that fire with a good, alcohol-induced buzz.

I can just imagine the response from readers saying, “Chrissy, that’s no fun.  You can’t expect me not to have a glass of wine or two with dinner.”  Oh, yes I can.  All I’m saying is take some time to get to know your suitor before you add alcoholic beverages to the mix.  If you really want to live on the edge, you can even wait a few dates.  Should you find that impossible to do, you have bigger problems than just your dating life.

Get over the awkwardness of a first date simply by acknowledging that it’s awkward.  Talk with your date authentically about what makes you nervous and ask him the same.  You’ll find that you can get past that initial uneasiness more quickly by putting each other at ease.  Honest communication like this will also open the flow of conversation so you can really get to know one another to determine whether or not this is a relationship you’d like to pursue or not.  Cheers!

21. Pei Wei – Brodie Oaks (At South Lamar and 360)

Helping Will Ross with his Dirt Remedy races has its perks.  First and foremost for me, I get to hang out with the guys.  The other benefit is that Will keeps me well-fed in the form of Pei Wei gift cards.  Other than the fact that the fortune cookie messages are quirky, completely lacking any insight into my future, I like the food so I would eat there anyway, with or without the gift cards.

After a horrible day at work, there are few things better than going to have my hair colored, cut and styled by my friend, Laura Wyrtzen.  Like most days, this particular Tuesday I forgot to eat.  While I wasn’t feeling particularly social, I wasn’t ready to go straight home to bed because my hair looked fabulous – plus, I was a little hungry.  That’s when, close to 9pm, I opted to make my way over to Brodie Oaks Pei Wei because it was close to the salon and on my way home.  With gift cards in-hand, this choice a no-brainer.  Having much of the day’s affairs to sort out in my mind, I had little desire for company over dinner.  So, I went alone.

Here’s my advice ladies: eat here and go late.  There is something about this zip code; a lot of guys must live around here.  I was the only girl in line.  Somehow my request for a “to go” order, even though I was going to eat it in the restaurant, really flustered the cashier.  In this case it was okay because, when I was in the back getting my ice water, it gave the cute, single guy behind me a reason to strike up a conversation with me.  At a table all by myself, I ate my beef with noodles and noticed there were tons of guys at this location.  There were a handful sitting at tables by themselves having dinner.  Waiting for their take-out orders, solo guys lined the wall.  On any other night, my new hair-do would have energized me to socialize at a place like this.  This is a terrific Hot Spot and it’s Pei Wei after all, where few people can resist the lettuce wraps.  Ladies, definitely put this on your list of eateries.

20. Golfsmith Driving Range

Let me be perfectly clear, I don’t like golf.  I don’t like playing it or watching it or wandering a course for 18 holes.  Lord help me if I marry a man who does.  Having lived in Phoenix and West Palm Beach, I’ve spent my share of time on the golf course.  My clubs were custom made by Jack Wulkotte, who used to make clubs for Jack Nicklaus back in the day.  What that means is that in spite of my furrowed brow, a perpetual expression of my frustration with the things of golf, I look great from the neck down whenever I have a club in my hand.

My friend, Phil, gave me the tip that this would make a good Hot Spot.  You need to know it’s taken me about 2 months to go and I really had to force myself.  To make this happen, I had to get my golf clubs out of storage and they sat in the back of my car for at least a month.  All this to say, going to the driving range is waaaaaaay out of my comfort zone.  When I arrived at Golfsmith Driving Range, I was pleasantly surprised.

This particular Golfsmith location is the company’s headquarters and is totally decked-out.  I’ve been to my share of driving ranges and this is the nicest one by a long shot – pun intended.  Being crunched for time, I bought a small bucket of balls for $5 and proceeded to the green where I could hack away.  Right smack in the middle of lunch hour, I was the only woman amongst a good handful of guys, making this an ideal Hot Spot.  After exhausting all 40 of my little white balls, I headed into the pro shop to return my basket and have a conversation with the pro.

Ladies, if you ever had the inclination to take up golf at any point in your life, go see Doug Nelle at the Golfsmith Driving Range.  His passion for the game is contagious and he’s got a tremendous commitment to introducing others to the sport.  For women, he suggests getting a group together and taking one of the clinics he offers (they’re either free or a nominal fee) to give it a try.  He has all kinds of clubs on-hand for you to use if you don’t have your own.  This is by far the best way to try golf.

Since we’re most concerned with when the men are there, Doug suggests coming on a Saturday.  “That’s when the serious golfers come practice,” he explained.  The women are definitely outnumbered by the men so be prepared to stand out and get some attention.  It also doesn’t matter if you’re good or not.  Women are so rarely seen golfing around here that men just appreciate your effort; Doug said that too.   Due to its location, a lot of Dell-ies come there during their lunch hour.  In the evening, the clientele is primarily students and people in the surrounding neighborhoods.  Sunday is family day.  Saturday is your day.

Golfsmith Driving Range – I-35 southbound feeder road, just south of Breaker.