The Magic First Date Formula


Romantic date with one of my closest buddies! Photo courtesy of the other Cindy.

I have gone on more first dates than I would like to admit – too many to even remember the first names of everyone. This must be true based on the numbers of times I have unexpectedly bumped into a former date in the most random places. At a boba shop in Orange County. In Grand Central Market. At an Asian-American comedy show in Hollywood. At a film festival where I was volunteering.

For the most part, these have all been great people. We just haven’t clicked.

With all of this experience, I have gotten the art of a first date down. Here’s some of my expert advice to have a fun first date, regardless of whether or not love is in the stars.

A great first date has 3 key elements:

  1. Fun and interactive. It may be a bit intimidating to just sit awkwardly into each other’s eyes and talk. A little interaction can ease the tension and lead to friendly banter.
  2. Inexpensive. Like good financial advice, don’t invest in someone until you do your research. Also, you want to date someone who can have a good time on any budget.
  3. Easy to cut short or extend. A great date spot is a place where you can end the date or extend the date in the smoothest way possible, while still being respectful to the other party.

And without further ado, here are my foolproof date ideas for those in the LA County. As you will notice, I am a big proponent of light competition in a first date. A bit of trash talking builds affection!

  • Bar 82 (Arts District in DTLA) or Neon Retro Arcade (Downtown Pasadena) – or any barcade/arcade in your area. Arcade games are perfect, since they do not take too much concentration, so you can also chat while playing. And if it’s going well, grab some food at the food truck in the back or explore some of the breweries in the area. Neon is a great alternative for non-drinkers or those in the Pasadena area.

Side note: My ultimate first date place is Bar 82. I used to go there for so many first dates that the bouncer once asked me, “Didn’t you just come here earlier this week?” while I was on a date with someone else. Don’t blow my cover!

  • Arts District Brewing Company (Arts District in DTLA) or a brewery with games. Did you love Chuck E. Cheese as a kid? Well, Arts District Brewing Company is like Chuck E. Cheese for grown ups. Skeeball your way into your date’s heart!
  • Golf N Stuff (Norwalk) or mini-golf. If things are going well, maybe you can offer some hands-on guidance on how to swing a club. 😉
  • Local Bowling Alley. Friendly competition as well as great for checking out someone’s bottom.
  • Game Haus Cafe (Glendale) or any board games cafe. I’ll give you a Ticket to Ride my train anytime.
  • Museum of Jurassic Technology (Culver City) or other small quirky museums. The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a bit…odd. There’s bound to be something there you can talk to your date about. Don’t forget to go upstairs to enjoy some tea and cookies on the patio!
  • Coffee and Stroll at Local Park. It’s the upgraded version of grabbing a coffee. You can get to know someone without the horror of staring at each other in the eyes the whole time. Maybe you can throw in a how-far-can-you-jump-off-the-swing competition if there’s a swing set.
  • Pool/Darts/Shuffleboard at a Dive Bar. Dive (bar) your way into romance. And if it’s going well, you can make the loser buy the winner a second drink!

How to ask for a first date to increase your chances of a Yes!

  • A bit of humor goes a long way. Make ’em laugh their way into your arms.
  • Ask them to a specific time or place. This will greatly up your chances for a successful first date. Do not be the person that says, “Let’s hang out sometimes.” That will inevitable lead to “Yeah, we totally should.” Which will lead to more texts and then the conversation will probably fade out. Be the person that says “I bet I can kick your ass at Street Fighter. Do you want to go to Bar 82 on Wednesday or Thursday night?”
  • And don’t be afraid to initiate the date. No one ever regrets asking, even if they get turned down. Everyone regrets NOT asking. If they say no, you don’t wanna go out with them anyway. And if they do say yes, you have scored a date. Win-win situation to me!

Dating, especially first dates, are exhausting. Hopefully with these tips, you will have a fun time, regardless of whether or not chemistry brews on your date. Do you have any first date advice? Please share them below.

Good luck out there! Like I always say, it will either be a good experience or a good story. 🙂


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