Best Cities For Singles
DENVER - If my boyfriend was at all nervous about this assignment, he did an admirable job of concealing it. My job: fly out to Denver, the two-time Best City for Singles winner, and report on the local single scene.
Denver: Stop Whining!
"Sounds interesting," he said. "Have fun--but not too much fun."
As it turned out, he had very little to worry about.
According to our data, single life in Denver should be great. But despite the city's status as the No. 1 place in the U.S. for unmarrieds (read more about how we ranked the cities), Denver daters are grumpy. Apparently, a low cost of living, a host of cultural options and the beauty of the nearby Rocky Mountains aren't enough to satisfy them.
"Best city for singles? You've got to be kidding me," said John Quesenbury, 34, whom I met at a speed-dating event hosted by Cupid.com, a national personals Web site. "You're kidding me, right?"
"I don't know," said speed dater Nathan Muntner, 32, and then confessed: "I haven't really left my couch in the last two years."
What's wrong with these people? During the three days I spent in Denver, I hit bars, restaurants and nightclubs; threw myself into speed dating; and enjoyed a very chic dinner with a single attorney whom I'd met on Match.com. I also took a day trip to Eldorado Canyon State Park, 30 miles northwest of Denver, where rock climbers scaled breathtakingly beautiful cliffs. Yet nearly everyone that I spoke with did nothing but complain about how difficult it was to hook up.
If that's truly the case, it can't be for lack of opportunity. Denver nightlife, for instance, though not as wild or as varied as New York City's, is far from the bottom of the barrel (it was in the top 25th percentile). And the drinks are a heck of a lot cheaper.
"Oh, I tried the bar scene, but I wasn't very good at it," Joe Sellers, my 32-year-old Match.com date, said dismissively. Joe, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Oklahoma native, moved to Denver less than a year ago because he took a job at a local law firm. It's been difficult for him to find friends outside his office, he claims, let alone a girlfriend.
"I don't know, bars seem kind of cheesy," he shrugged.
All right. But even in popular downtown hangout Croc's, where the music was so loud it was difficult to imagine anyone even being able to exchange greetings, I quickly found a young woman who had met her boyfriend at another bar down the street. They've been together, she said proudly, for two years.
And if it's culture you're looking for, Denver doesn't disappoint. In fact, the city ranked third in that category. It has world-class museums, independent bookstores and plenty of performance venues. Why not take advantage of them? "That's the thing," Joe whined, "I need someone to go with."
But when I spoke with Brit Withey, program director for the Denver Film Society, a very different picture emerged.
"Everyone's always trying to meet like-minded people," he said. "That's what's so great about our film center and the festivals we run. There's an outdoor courtyard attached to the theater and almost everyone goes out there after the film to hang out and chat with each other."
Is it okay to go by yourself? Do people actually meet there? Absolutely, according to Withey. Employees of the Denver Art Museum made much the same claim for their facility.
Finally, with the Rocky Mountains a few miles west of the city, couldn't Denver singles find more active ways to hook up, say, while hiking, mountain biking, skiing or rock climbing?
"You can't ask a girl to go up to the mountains with you on a first date. She'll think you want to kill her," said Joe.
Speed dater and Alabama native Lauren Yant, 24, had a different bone to pick.
"A lot of people are really hardcore into their sports," she said. "If you're interested in those things, but you're a beginner, it's hard to find people who are willing to take it down a notch for you and go slow."
There's just no pleasing some people.
"Denver has plenty of things to do," speed dater Quesenbury said glumly, "I'm just not meeting anyone to do it with."
Yant agreed. "There's a lot of talent out there, but the audition process isn't really streamlined," she sighed.
My advice to Yant—and the rest of Denver’s lonely hearts: Get out there! And stop whining! You don’t know how good you have it.