Size matters

10 May

manMap ponders if size mattersThe advent of the small bar has been tremendous gift to Sydney women. We now have a myriad of civilised, social options. There are cosy places we can share wine and conversation with a few friends. Comfortable places with great music and tapas give us a burst of joy after a day at the office. Places with refreshingly quirky décor and delicious cocktails reinspire us if we’ve been exposed to too many hard-lined, modern bars. And best of all, the smoking laws mean none of the new places have that whiff of yester-year’s nicotine, which older venues are still trying to purge.

But, as with many aspects of contemporary life, Sydney women are now even more saturated with choice. With new small bars opening every other day, how do you know where to go? Which venue is going to suit your mood? And more importantly, which venue will help you meet single men?

Bar Zine’s Dan Kaufman is Sydney’s expert on bars. Kaufman spends his evenings exploring Sydney’s bars, new and old, and reviewing them on his website with an honestly that comes from working independently. Although Kaufman doesn’t question people about their relationship status à la moi, his knowledge of the Sydney bar scene means he knows what makes bars popular. And as I’ve said before ladies, it’s all about the bait.

When I met Kaufman last week, I was delighted to hear him echo some of my own theories about the features a bar needs to help strangers mingle and flirt (oddly enough, room for palm-flashing didn’t come up). If you’re socialising with just one or two wing-girls, or if you’re enjoying a wine alone, Kaufman believes the essential ingredient is the humble bar stool. By sitting along the bar, you’re in the space that nearly everyone will enter at some point. It makes you easy to approach if someone likes the look of you and you might end up speaking to a nice guy sitting next to you. Plus there’s the benefit of flirting with the bar staff. Kaufman uses The Grasshopper as the perfect example of this set up. It was only later that I remembered I’d sat along the bar with a wing-girl when I was there. I was early and chatted with the lovely barman until my wing-girl arrived, and two guys ended up sitting next to us. We should’ve embraced the opportunity to speak to them.

For some time I’d been thinking the target for small bars was women like me: thirty-somethings wanting somewhere where the music isn’t blaring so they can chat, where the menu and wine list are good and the furniture comfortable and interesting. Speaking to Kaufman, I realised I was wrong about this. Lots of guys are looking for the same thing (although they probably wouldn’t use the word ‘chat’). After a few walk-throughs of small bars in my area, I realised he was right. Lots of small groups of guys were there. And a small group is always easier to infiltrate.

Kaufman explained that Sydney’s experiencing an ‘anti big bar movement’. It seems that despite our harbour and sunshine, we’ve been craving what Melbourne has known for so long: a smaller bar unafraid to have personality. Sydney-siders have been so deprived that any new little bar is going to create interest, meaning people will go to them. Meaning men will be there. Meaning you might want to go there too. And in Kaufman’s opinion, one crucial element for meeting new people is the ability to make eye contact. In a small venue, where everyone is contained in one main area, this is so much easier.     

So where does Kaufman think single women should go to meet men? If you’re after a suit, he recommends The Argyle, Ivy or Establishment. “Show enough flesh and at some point someone will hit on you, how quickly depends on your body language.” Not into the meat market? Head to the small bars in the CBD, Monday to Friday. Kaufman’s picks are Grandma’s, Stitch Bar and The Grasshopper. If you’re looking for a more suburban vibe on Saturdays, try the Green Room in Enmore or Vice Bar in Balmain. And of course, if you’re not in the head space to meet men and you just want to enjoy the company of your wing-girls, visit Kaufman’s website and take your pick.


One Response to “Size matters”


  1. Where can a girl go when she’s feeling low? « My manMap - May 17, 2011

    […] night didn’t start well. Hoping to investigate the theory that men like small bars as much as women, I headed to Love, Tilly Devine. This meant walking past the Lord Roberts, an […]

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