I’m not outgoing.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having a crew to hang out with, hit the bars with and bounce things off of, but I am also very comfortable with being alone.
I’ve always been that way.
Working from my computer and living in countries where people don’t speak my native tongue has only amplified this – it’s undoubtedly harder to meet people now than it was when I was working an office job and living in Canada (though this blog has helped).
As a result, I often have to go out to bars and clubs solo. And after much trial and error, I think I’ve finally figured out how to do it without looking like a rapist or serial killer.
The First Time I Went Out Alone
The first time I went out alone in Latin America was a catastrophe. I hardly spoke the language and had rarely gone out without at least one friend ever in my life. But the reason I was travelling was to get out of my shell, and I figured this was one of the best ways to do it.
I timidly cued up to the most crowded club I could find that was listed on TripAdvisor.
My troubles started before I even entered. As I approached the door, the bouncer stretched out his hands and said something in Spanish that I didn’t understand.
“Wha…Que?” I stammered.
It took me a good 10 seconds, much to the frustration of those behind me, to figure out that he simply wanted to pat me down.
Eventually, I made in inside. The music somehow seemed louder and the atmosphere more disorienting than if I had a wingman. I looked around to see nearly every woman either paired up with a guy or part of a large group. I went up to the bar and made no effort to catch the attention of the bartender, to kill as much time as I could.
The barman nodded at me.
“Ce…cerveza.” I said, in what was more of a question than a request.
He began to list my option of beer, none of which I heard properly.
“Esta bien” I said, irrelevantly.
Looking at me quizzically, he gave me a bottle of something and said a price. I handed him the largest bill I had.
I stood by the bar for the next few minutes, scanning the scene and nodding my head to the music. I started to notice that people who wanted to buy drinks were giving me dirty looks because I was crowding the bar, so I moved.
Not sure of where to go, I decided to do a lap of the venue. I tried to make eye-contact with some girls as I weaved my way through the people, but no one gave me the time of day.
After my lap, I decided to stand near the wall and nod my head to the music some more. Feeling awkward, I took out my iPod Touch, pretending it was a cell phone, and acted like I was reading a really important message and responding to it. I kept this up as long as I could.
I still didn’t know what to do with myself, so I went to the bathroom, even though I didn’t have to piss. I pissed a little, but pretended that I was pissing longer, to kill time. Then I washed my hands for a good 45 seconds and put them under the air drier until they were completely dry.
Because I was nervous, I had already finished my beer and I didn’t want to line up to get another after the awkwardness with the bartender, so I wandered aimlessly around the bar, sneaking by people as though I had somewhere very important to be. I reached the other end of the bar and there weren’t very many people, so I turned right back around and meandered my way back to where there were people.
I leaned against the corner of the bar for about 2 minutes more, mostly looking at my watch and fingernails.
And then I left and went back to my hostel.
Why Is Going Out Alone Intimidating?
As humiliated as I am to tell that story, it’s a part of who I was not so long ago. And I bet most introverted guys who have gone out solo can relate to parts of my experience.
But why is it so intimidating to go out alone?
Here’s my theory.
Most have a false idea that people are watching everything they do and/or talking behind their backs. There’s actually a psychological term for it: Imaginary Audience. It’s the idea that your behaviours and actions are the main focus of other people. So, when many guys go out alone, there primary thoughts go something like this.
“Oh my God, people are thinking I don’t have any friends.”
“People must think I’m weird!”
“I look like such a loser right now, what am I doing!?”
It was for these reasons that I was so mortified after not understanding the bouncer or bartender, crowding the bar and standing by the wall alone.
I thought everybody was judging me.
Of course, this wasn’t true.
All these people forgot about me the second the interaction ended.
The first thing you need to do before going out alone for the first time is destroy the notion that people give a damn who you are, or what you do.
As I was worrying about what everyone thought of me at the bar that night, guess how many people I observed intently.
Aside from looking for pretty girls, I wasn’t judging people who were alone, how people were dancing, or dressed. Because people just don’t give a hell about that sort of thing. Unless you do something utterly outrageous, nobody at the bar with be judging you for anything.
Most probably won’t even realize you exist.
This is liberating.
How To Go Out Alone In Latin America
Basically, going out alone in Latin America is the same as any other part of the world. But there’s still a few nitpicky things you should know before you fly solo here.
1) You Might Get ‘Tested If You Are Out Alone, But Not As Bad As In The USA.
If you’re out alone in Latin America and you approach a girl, there’s about a 50/50 chance that she’ll ask what you’re doing out alone. Contrary to my country where there is about a 95% chance. If you get asked this, simply say something silly like “my friends are all married,” “I don’t have any friends,” etc. The only important thing here is that you own it and convey confidence – like you do it all the time and you are comfortable with it. If it’s your first time and are nervous like I was, just fake it till ya make it!
2) Make Friends With Local Dudes
You might be surprised to learn that local dudes in Latin America have got me laid countless times. It’s amazing how generous they are about introducing you to their female friends if they think you’re a cool person. The best place to befriend dudes is either in the line to get into the club, or in the smoking area. Don’t try to do it inside. Could be misconstrued… If a guy(s) is in the line behind you with girls, ask a random question like “is there cover,” or something. More than likely, he’ll ask where you’re from and you can get a bit of banter going. If he seems chill and his female friends are hot, don’t be afraid to buy him a drink when you’re in the bar. It will usually pay dividends and also help integrate you a bit better.
3) Wear Clothes That Make You Stand Out
The great thing about going out in Latin America as a foreigner is that it is very easy to stand out. That’s because most everyone dresses bad, like a backpacker, or in some variation of this kind of shirt:
But, unless you have an eccentric personality (in which case, you probably don’t have any problem going out alone anyway), you won’t want to peacock too hard. Keep your dress congruent with your personality. A blazer and a teeshirt usually plays well, but if you want to go a bit more casual, a v-neck with some accessories (ladies love accessories) will be enough to set you apart from the local getup down here.
…Just don’t have the v-neck be too plunging, lest you be mistaken for a homosexual.
Do make the utmost effort to look as good as possible when going out solo, it will make things considerably easier. If you make yourself someone that people want to talk to, half of the work will be done for you. The fact that you are alone will even add an element of mystery to your persona.
A Typical Night Rolling Solo For Ol’ Vance
To give you an idea of what going out solo looks like for me, I’m about to lay it down for you. This will accomplish two things:
1) Give you a template for now to approach going out alone in Latin America.
2) Show you how strange a person I am.
Alone in my apartment. I put on some music on YouTube (usually female latin pop) to get me amped up, and do about 8 sets of 25 pushups. I usually start drinking between these sets.
I continue drinking, usually whisky or vodka/pisco/tequila with club soda and lime or orange (YouTube still on because I’m too cheap for Spotify). I rotate between sitting down at my computer and standing up because if I sit down too long I get in a more tranquil zone and am less motivated to go out. I find that making cocktails accomplishes this balance pretty well. I also smoke a few cigarettes during this time (I don’t suggest you do this because smoking will kill you).
A bit shy of half a bottle is my pre-drinking sweet spot, assuming I’ve eaten something that day. I realize this may be excessive for some. Adjust accordingly to your tolerance.
I take an ice-cold shower. Music still on, although by now I would have switched to reggaeton/salsa/bachata…not because I like it, necessarily, but because I’m trying to get myself accustomed to the type of music I will undoubtedly encounter later on.
I get dressed and put on cologne. Three sprays on the wrist then I rub it on my neck and a bit on my chest, in the event I manage to drag someone home later that night.
I have one more drink and cigarette. I normally intend to have the cigarette before getting changed so I don’t reek of smoke, but for some mysterious reason I always mess this up.
Out the door.
I usually stay walking distance from the bars I go to, so I will have arrived by now. If there is a cue, I’ll chat up someone in the line either in front of me or behind me. Better if it’s a mixed group or girls, but I’ll chat to just about anyone to get in the social mood…unless they look like a gangster.
I should be in the club around now. Typically, the first thing I’ll do is scan the bar to see if there is a good place I can post up after I order a drink. Ideal area is close to the bathrooms, but if that’s not possible I’ll go by the stairs if the bar has two floors (smoking areas are typically up here unless progressive laws have forced them outside, so they see a lot of traffic). If that’s not possible, I’ll stick by the bar. Basically, any place where I can observe the traffic, and be observed by the traffic.
For the first 20/30 minutes or so, I won’t normally approach any girls (unless I’ve met someone in the line and they want to include me in their group or something). I’ll just sort of chill and make mental notes of who I might want to break the ice with/who seems most up for it. I’m not going to lie, I’ll usually play the odds. If there’s a hot girl surrounded by 4 other gals who are all in their own world vs. a more average but still bangable girl with a friend who is shooting me eye-contact, I’m going for the plain Jane.
I am what I am.
Another thing: if a girl(s) or a group approaches you in a friendly manner shortly after you arrive, be friendly back, regardless of what they look like. Don’t be a dick just because the girls are ugly or whatever. This is common human decency, but also because you never know who they are, if they have other friends coming or if you might have to fall back on them for unforeseeable reasons. You don’t have to commit to hanging out with them for the night, but a general rule when rolling solo is the more people you interact with the better.
This is about the time you’re going to want to start approaching something if you haven’t already. You don’t want to be alone forever. One, it’s boring. Two, although people won’t generally notice or care, it isn’t good to be seen alone for too long. If you do this in Latin America (where girls will often approach you), you’ll seem intimidating, odd and/or unapproachable.
By now, I’ll have a pretty good idea of whose up for it or who is a good prospect. If there is seriously nothing, I’ll go for a cigarette and chat someone up. If it’s really bad, I’ll change bars.
Some guys will advocate the “approach machine” tactic, where you approach a bunch of different girls to maximize your chance at success. I don’t do this. Like I said before, I like to read/observe people a bit first and then pair the odds with my interest. I don’t go in completely cold. I’m shy by nature, so it’s tough for me. If there are a few girls I’d like to approach, I start with my preferred option. If I get outright rejected or if it goes icy, I’ll set my sights on the next one.
Generally, there will always be a few girls who will be giving you strong signals that they are interested throughout the night, i.e. “gringo hunters.” Unsurprisingly, they are never the hottest gals in the joint. Don’t go for these right off the bat, you’d be doing yourself a disservice. Try to get something you want. Chances are, the gringo hunters will still be interested in an hour or so. Don’t be too quick to commit unless there really isn’t anything else/if your self-loathing is strong that night.
Hopefully I will have found someone to chill with or dance with by now. I usually have pretty good luck with approaching girls in pairs. Do this with words, because guys here will just grab them and try to dance with them. And they don’t really like this (in Brazil this is OK). Only problem with pairs is that if one of them doesn’t have a guy, it can be a cockblocking scenario later on.
If I see this becoming a problem, I’ll just tease with the other one about helping her find a man. Often after a bit of teasing she’ll point out a dude she likes and I’ll initiate the introduction if she’s too timid. If this sounds weird, that’s because it is. It’s something I’d never do back home. But it’s not too out of the ordinary down here and helps avoid cockblocking later on. It also gives you the opportunity to hop into his group if your first lead doesn’t work out.
This strategy won’t work on all pairs, mind you.
You’ll need to get a proper read on the situation, and you will have had to build up a decent level of playful rapport with both of them. If the friend of the girl you’re trying to pick up is on the b*itchier end of the spectrum, this approach could go badly.
If all is going well with whomever I’ve met, I’ll usually go all in. Chances are, we will have made out by now. I’m always careful not to drink too much more during this stage so as not to lose control, not least because I’ve already had half a bottle of hootch and a couple of beers, but if the girl is up for drinking, I’ll splash out a bit. I’ll feel out the situation, and if all is going well I’ll suggest to GTFO of there after 2:30 or so and drink at my place, not much earlier than that. If she’s up for it, great! The work is done. If not, I lay off and reintroduce the topic a bit later. If it’s truly a hard no after a few tries, I’ll settle for the number, which usually results in a very-near future hook-up.
*Note: I’ve found that if you’re rolling solo, you should hit the club later as opposed to earlier. The argument for earlier is that the girls don’t have as high a shield if you’re among the first to approach them. This may be true, but it’s a marathon for me to meet a girl at 10pm and spend an entire night with her. Not to mention, you’ll lock yourself in to her before most people have even arrived at the bar.
Personally, I prefer going out later because it’s less of a time investment. But do what you think will work for you.
…and if you don’t meet any girls don’t fret! It’s happened to me more times than I can count.
Going out alone used to terrify me. But now I take pride in the fact that I’m capable of meeting girls and having a fun time rolling completely solo. It took a long time to get over that original hump, but I’m glad I did.
Of course, there’s nothing better than hitting the town with two or three good friends, drinking, bantering and having a memorable night regardless of whether or not you meet any women. Posting up with some friends at a table with a bottle will make meeting girls at clubs in Latin America infinitely easier, and it’s generally more entertaining. But if that isn’t an option, you have all the power in the world to create your own fun.
**P.S If you’re more introverted and prefer online dating, Give Latin American Cupid A Try.