The ideal first date should be fun, memorable, and just long enough to leave that person wanting more. 

For my first date with Alena, on October 25, 2012, I took her to do wine tasting at an Italian restaurant, Lavagna, at Barracks Row in DC.  We connected on our experiences with teaching, our travels abroad, and our food and fitness interests.  Alena made it clear to me upfront that she didn't like mayonnaise and mustard (which I don't care for anyway), and I told her about my allergy to soybeans and cats (which probably disappointed Alena a little bit, but thankfully wasn't a dealbreaker). 
After that, I took her to one of my favorite spots, Banana Café, where I was planning for us to enjoy live music at their Piano Bar in the upper floor.  By the end of the date, I sensed good vibes, made my move to sit next to her, and eventually went in for an amazing first kiss.  It turns out that the music playing in the background during our kiss was Justin Bieber's Baby, which wasn't my top pick for 'First Kiss Song to Remember for Life,' but we had a good laugh about it.

Tips for a Successful First Date

1.  Leave a really good impression on the first date.  If the person you’re with is a catch, they may also have another date later in the week, so you want yours to be memorable.  Ask lighthearted and easy questions, listen actively, and talk about things that you both have in common.  Remember to smile.  Laugh if he or she says something funny.  You want that person to leave thinking, “Wow, we have a lot in common, and I can’t wait to find out what else there is.”

2.  Have the first date on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evening.  Friday and Saturday are big date nights for date two or beyond. Many people dread going back to work or have chores to do on Sunday.  Many people are tired on Monday evenings after going back to work.  I picked a weeknight, and kept the date to around 2 hours.  

3.  Two things that a person likes to hear on a first date are: “Like you, I also…” or “One of the things I really like about you is….”  People like to be validated.  People like to be liked.  I would pick a couple of things (don’t go overboard) that are really great about or that you have in common with that person and be sure to let them know.

Five Things for the Fellas:

1.  Wear a nice shirt (button down or polo), with pants/jeans and shoes that match.  You only get one shot at making a solid first impression, and you will be judged by your clothes.  Dress in clothes that make you feel confident.  Don’t wear something ridiculous that will distract your date or make them question your taste. 

2.  Take your date to a place that you know well.  Have some idea of what dishes are good so you don’t spend awkward moments being indecisive.  Pick a place that's not too noisy. For many people, the first date inherently comes with some pressure and anxiety, and you want to minimize as many distractions and unknowns as possible.

3.  Be a gentleman.  Hold the door for her, look at her face when she’s talking, nod when she’s making a good point, and please, pick up the check.   

4.  Ask questions and listen more than talk in the first date.  You want to leave that person curious about you.

5.  If the date is going well, you need to make a move.  If you just establish common interests with no romance, you’ll be in the friend zone (trust me guys, this has happened to me before).  I recommend finding a first date spot where you can both sit side by side, so you can flirt with each other and lean in for a kiss if the vibes are right.  
By: John Chu

On October 20, 2012, I met my wife Alena for the first time at a Michael Jackson Thriller dance class at Ultrabar in Washington, DC.  I taught the class and Alena was one of my students.

We Almost Never Met

When my friend J.T. (who organized the class as part of his 20s and 30s Going Out Meetup group) approached me about teaching Thriller, I initially declined.  I was taking a break from teaching dance, and was focusing instead on my work, finding a good relationship, and training as a runner.  But after some thought, I said yes as J.T. is a good friend, and decided to professionally film the class, since I didn’t do so with my previous lessons and thought it was my last class at the time.  The cool thing is that because of the filming, Alena and I have pictures from the first time we talked, and a video from the night we met:
The video of our Thriller dance flash mob at Ultrabar in DC; Alena appears at 0:45 to 0:47, and 1:24-1:26.  Courtesy of Brandon Bentley, B2 Pictures
First Impressions

John: “Wow, she’s hot and has a nice sense of style.  I wonder whether she’s with that guy.”
Alena: “He’s good looking, friendly, and confident.”
A Bold, First Conversation

After class, I asked my friend Tomasz whether he thought the guy that Alena came in with was her boyfriend.  He said, “I don’t think so.  It looks like she’s been avoiding him all night.”  If Tomasz had just said, “probably,” I probably would not have done the next thing…   

I approached Alena when she was by herself, made a little small talk, and asked her if the guy she came to the lesson with was her boyfriend.  She said, “No, we’re just friends.  He’s not looking for a relationship.”  I then said without hesitation, “I’m looking for a relationship.  Do you want to get a drink or coffee next week and talk some more?”  And she said, “Yes.”  I then got her number.  It was a quick, one minute conversation.

- The best way to meet someone is to get involved in an activity that is enjoyable and enriching for you, and where you can meet potential attractive singles.  That way it is a win for you even if you don’t meet anyone.  And if you do, even better.  That night, I was going to have fun at that class even if I didn’t meet anyone, but I happened to meet Alena there.

- Be brave and just talk to someone you’re interested in – just go for it.  I approached Alena after class to chat even though she arrived with a guy.  After talking for a little bit, I politely asked her if she was with that guy.  The worst thing that could have happened was that she could have said, “Yes, he’s my boyfriend.”  And I would just move on and talk to someone else.  There is never any harm to say hello, introduce yourself, ask questions, listen, and see if they are interested in talking more, so just be brave and go for it.

- A little note about rejections – shake them off.  I can tell you that as a guy who’s been through the rejections and now has found the right person, you don’t remember the rejections.  I frankly don’t even remember the name, face, or conversation that I had with the girls who immediately brushed me off.  And I don’t remember the girls I turned down.  A rejection is temporary and forgettable in the grand scheme of things, so channel your Taylor Swift and shake it off.

- Have a wingman or wingwoman with you.  The best wingman or wingwoman brings out the best in you, and gives you a vote of confidence to make the first move, like Tomasz did for me.  And a good wingman is willing to take the lesser attractive of the two girls if you both go on a double date.  I’ve been a wingman for my guy friends, and I’ve had awesome wingmen.