Each week in The Hook-Up, we set up single readers of The Grid and send them on blind dates around Toronto. Here’s what Lauryn and MJ had to say about their date at Lula Lounge.
Lauryn is a 28-year-old program officer at a not-for-profit foundation who lives in Roncesvalles. She describes her style as “vintage femme with lots of glitter, patterns and colour—I love all things shiny, loud, metallic and sparkly.” Lauryn is “outgoing, kind, and always up for an adventure” and says, “I get my energy from being surrounded by positive, innovative, and creative thinkers.” Lauryn likes to “ride my bike, go to shows and dance parties, and engage in great conversation with good friends over coffee or a glass of something strong.” Lauryn’s type is “busy and does their own thing, and has their own life outside of work.”
MJ is a 32-year-old live-music booking agent and bartender who lives in Dundas West. She says, “I have a good sense of humour and I’m told I’m very personable. I give a shit about most things.” MJ likes to “hang out with my dog, listen to music and hang with pals” and says, “For the last 10 years, I have been a show promoter, booking agent, and tour manager, so music is my deal, and I love it all. I love good, old proto-metal and rock, like circa 1968 to 1979.” She also likes documentaries and reading. MJ says, “I’m more into feminine-looking ladies” who are easy-going and “not stupid! I would like to not have to carry the conversation completely.”
Lauryn on MJ
“I was so focused on applying more glitter to my eyes that I realized time was ticking, and my plan to walk over to Lula Lounge to calm my nerves was quickly fading. As someone who is often late for social gatherings, I wanted to make sure that I arrived stylishly on time. I grabbed a cab and got out two blocks before the venue, because I didn’t want to [reveal] that I was running late.
“I arrived first, surprisingly. I was happy to see MJ’s awesome, smiling self slightly nervously approach the table a few minutes later. This being Toronto [with] its village-like feeling, especially in the queer community, I was concerned that I would know the person who I would be [meeting] that night, [so] I breathed a sigh of relief when an actual stranger sat down at the table.
“We discovered that we have mutual friends when she told me that she’s moving in above a friend I’ve known for years—I bet the queer folks who are reading this right now just said ‘Of course’ to themselves. I got a great extroverted and chill vibe from her, and had a good feeling that the conversation would flow nicely between us, and that she would have some pretty good stories to share. There was no awkwardness between us; her killer sense of humour and our ongoing banter kept me laughing and entertained.
“To start the evening off, we both opted for Negra Modelo, followed by pinot grigio. I tend to not order the same thing as my dining partner, but thought it was cute that we both agreed on good drinks choices. We ordered the dip trio and shrimp ceviche as appetizers. MJ proudly showed me pictures of her handsome dog James on her phone; I sensed some shyness [from her] about having so many pictures of her pup, but I secretly loved it. I’m not a dog owner, but love other people’s pets, so I was into it.
“We are both fairly recent Toronto transplants so we shared a lot about the experiences, challenges, and fun times we’ve had in the city so far. She’s really into music and knows a lot more about great bands than I do, since she works in the field. I appreciated her love of real dive bars, and she mentioned that she’s booked punk shows at a few, which took me back to my past of going to punk shows, [which is] something I wish I did more often.
“For the entrée, I went with the red snapper, and she ordered the steak, and then we shared a chocolate brownie-like thing for dessert. By that point, I was sure that I’d like to hang out with her again, so I mentioned that if she was into it, we should do something else sometime, which she agreed to.
“After dessert, the lounge was already hopping with people learning how to salsa. MJ suggested a shot of Jameson before attempting to twist, shake, and kick, and she got us both shots from the bar: liquid courage was essential for this.
“Dancing was fun, but it was time to end the night, so she suggested that we ‘exchange coordinates’ or something cute along those lines, which we did. To cap off the lovely evening, we gave each other a big bear-hug goodbye and parted ways.”
LAURYN RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10)
Style: 9 (“I always appreciate a gal who can rock a good plaid shirt.”)
Salsa dance moves: 7 (“But great attempts at the twists and kicks.”)
MJ on Lauryn
“I arrived to the date on time, which is nothing to boast about, I suppose, since I live a stone’s throw away. I was feeling pretty nervous all day, mostly because our date involved dinner and salsa dancing. I was definitely going to be out of my comfort zone. But I said to myself, ‘Self, all of this is out of your comfort zone! Just relax and have a good time.’
“Lauryn was already seated [when I arrived]. She stayed seated and we shook hands. I was feeling flushed and awkward but she was really warm and sweet and had a very relaxed presence. I eased into my chair, cracked a joke, and thankfully she laughed, and we were off to the races!
“I have to admit I wasn’t initially attracted to Lauryn. I can be funny about attraction, though, and really need to get to know someone’s personality, back story, and interests, and of course all of those things take time, so I was excited to get to know her better.
“We share a number of mutual friends. Just knowing some of the same people and having familiar reference points really made me relax. She was super-smart and well-educated; basically, she has her shit together, which I was totally down with. We even had the same excellent taste in beer and wine, which I was also totally down with! She’s a self-professed femme and is involved with Pride Toronto. I liked the fact that she was political and gave back to the queer community.
“The conversation moved along swiftly. We talked about Toronto and how awesome it is, all the different neighbourhoods to explore, and the food and entertainment. I’m from Vancouver and she’s from Montreal—she’s bilingual. Speaking French is sexy, so we had a nice chat about the various nuances [that] the left and the right side of the country have to offer. We really had a fair amount in common, including a love of music. Music is my favourite thing to talk about, and Lauryn can play various instruments and sing, so that was a big bonus.
“She was also super-extroverted, which was a good thing because I was able to let my guard down and really get rolling along with my true sense of humour, which she seemed to ‘get.’ We were both laughing and having a good time. She had nice eyes and lots of glitter and style. We laughed about how my shirt looked like something that Jerry Seinfeld might wear on a blind date. I thought to myself, ‘If you think my shirt is like Jerry’s, get ready because I’m going to salsa like Elaine!’
“Eventually, Lauryn suggested we give [the dancing] a try, and I quickly suggested a few shots of Jameson [to] grease my dancing wheels. Of course, she had salsa danced before, so the pressure was on. She let me lead, which I liked, even though I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I put in my best effort with a spin or two. In the end, it was decided that I was doing the running man more than actually salsa dancing. Lauryn was gracious and only laughed at me 70 per cent of the time.
“We went back to the table and ordered dessert, which we shared. The conversation got a little more personal. We talked about bad dates; we’ve had similar bad dating experiences. She was pretty sure of herself and what she wanted. That made me a bit nervous, just because I’m not so sure of what I want right now. We both agreed that dating was fun and that this blind-date experience was going well.
“I think we might be more suited as friends? But I’m willing to go out with her again. We parted ways with a hug and the promise to get in touch in the future.
MJ RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Sense of humour: 8
Dance moves: 10
Special thanks to Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St. W., 416-588-0307. Follow @lulalounge and Like Facebook.com/ilovelula.
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