Three Great Places to Meet Singles (When the Bar Scene Gets Old)

Each week, Miami dating expert Nikki Novo gives us advice on finding love in this hopeless place. Today: How to meet potential dates, even if you're not perched on a barstool and wearing beer goggles.

You're sitting at Miami's hot new bar, dressed to the nines, sipping on some overpriced cocktail with an equally attractive friend. One thought runs through your mind as you scan the room for a potential date, life partner, or even just a one-night stand: "Where are all the quality people in this damn city?"

We've all heard about that one person -- our friend, our cousin, our co-worker -- who met her husband at a bar. But is that situation really the norm? Not when we're labeling every guy who attempts to buy us a drink as a douche before he even says hello. Granted, his shirt was bedazzled and his hair was greasier than the bar's chicken wings. But that's beside the point.

Let's be honest: We judge books by their covers. And at a bar or club, our skepticism is almost always at an all-time high. Although our outfit, hair extensions, and five-inch heels beckon plenty of solicitors, we secretly judge the guys who are out till the wee hours of the morning, spending $20 on a two-sip drink.

And this is exactly why our city's nightlife spots aren't the best places to find dates. Not because their aren't any quality people roaming the dance floor (after all, you are there), but because our vibe isn't genuine or inviting. It's a waste of our time when we're lugging around this kind of anti-mojo.

Let's do ourselves a favor and acknowledge that our chances of finding Mr. Right in the middle of Miami nightlife are slim. If a potential date is what you're looking for, here are a few opportunities where you're less likely to judge others -- and yourself.

1. Events Related to Your Hobbies

You don't even like to stay out late, wear uncomfortable shoes, or drink sugary beverages. No wonder you're not meeting anyone at that lounge. As cheesy as it may sound, spend your time doing the things that make you happy. When you're stoked about what's happening in the moment, feeling good about yourself, and enjoying the company around you, you're more likely to give off that magical charm that attracts handsome suitors. (Bonus: It also attracts small children and three-pound dogs.)

If you like biking, join Miami Critical Mass, an event that promotes bicycle awareness by gathering hundreds of enthusiastic people every last Friday of the month for a group ride through downtown. Spend your time reading books? Check out the busy schedule of events at Books & Books. And if film is more your thing, the Coral Gables Art Cinema packs its website with loads of programming that attracts plenty of people.

2. Gatherings Where You Can Learn

Relationships are tough. So if you're going to be committed to someone, you want to make sure that person is flexible and willing to grow with you. Meaning, they're always open to learning.

You'll find people who like to learn at, well, classes, seminars, and workshops. I'm looking forward to Growing the Good Food Revolution, presented by the University of Miami, and WordCamp Miami. Miami Dade College also has a robust and ever-changing School of Continuing Education.

3. Groups that Share Your Interests

Every online dating site will suggest a potential mate depending on your common interests. How about you save the monthly membership and go about it the old-fashioned way? Join an organization that you believe in -- and has a pretty stellar events calendar.

In our melting pot of a city, there's an organization out there for every kind of activist. And if you haven't found one, start your own! The Arsht Center's Green Room Society, New World Symphony's Friends of NWS, and Big Brothers Big Sisters are just a few known for heavy involvement from young professionals.

In a nutshell, the idea is to be genuine about what floats your boat. Don't try to conform to some sort of cultural norm of meeting people if it's not your idea of fun. An insincere approach to dating will result in meeting insincere people. And you have better things to do than deal with another disappointment.

-- Nikki Novo

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