Nothing sparks conversation better than a round of darts or an overly competitive game of ping pong.
First dates can be tough. Once you’ve gotten past the “what do you do for work” and “where are you from” questions about a person’s basic bio, it can be hard to keep the conversation going. Questions are hard to think of on the fly. Nervous silences abound. Making eye contact is hard. It happens.
So what is there to do when the conversation goes dry and you still have half your drink left? Certainly you’re not calling it a night—that $13 cocktail is not going to go to waste. Or maybe the date is going well and you don’t want it to end—but an extra hour doesn’t feel worth another double-digit libation. That’s where these eight elevated bars come in. From ping pong to darts, arcade games and axes, they offer a little something to do when you and your date both run out of things to say.
If the old-timey speakeasy vibes and eclectic artwork aren’t enough to get the conversation flowing, your competitive spirit certainly will. Chock full of dartboards (plus some high-tech gadgets to keep track of the score for you), Flight Club is more than just a bar with one lone board in the corner. Step up to your own private oche—or the throwing line—take aim, and decimate your date with your skill. An added bonus? Food and craft cocktails served right to your dartboard.
60 Seaport Blvd., Suite 215, Boston, 617-855-9888, flightclubdarts.com/boston.
The fact that most people seem to fall into one of two camps—those who are fantastic at bowling and those who really, really aren’t—only makes this stereotypical date idea all the more intriguing. Adding in that Lucky Strike’s LED-lit bowling lanes and lively atmosphere make it almost impossible for you and your date not to have a good time, there’s no concern about slipping into snooze-fest territory. If one of you does end up getting too many gutter balls, pool tables and arcade games serve as a welcome distraction.
145 Ipswich St., Boston, luckystrikeent.com/fenway.
There’s nothing like some player-versus-player competition. No one knows that better than SPIN—whose founders were right on the money when they realized a ping pong social club is exactly what a city needs. Because whether you’re an expert or a newbie, ping pong is undeniably a good time (with the added bonus that SPIN has a staffer who will collect any errant balls for you). Grab a drink with your pong partner before reserving a table and getting to it. Who knows, maybe you two will fall in love with it and join the weekly league.
30 Melcher St, Boston, 617-404-2272, wearespin.com/boston.
Tavern of Tales
For those without the hand-eye coordination for, say, dart-throwing, Boston’s only board game bar offers an activity that’s a little more tame. Each game experience is immersive, featuring sound effects, music, and narration. That means that while snacking on loaded nachos or J.P. Licks Ice Cream, conversation about things other than the game at hand can take a backseat (especially if you’re playing with more than just the two of you). Who cares about the last book your date read when you’re working to solve a murder or vanquish a dungeon boss?
1478 Tremont St., Boston, 617-708-0172, tavernoftales.com.
Your date said something that you didn’t quite vibe with? Channel it into the axe. Somerville’s indoor axe-throwing venue offers arguably one of the more adventurous date locales out there. Just sign up for a time slot, and you get to chuck axes at a bullseye for an hour or two. (But not with reckless abandon. With safety precautions and some instruction, of course). The surprisingly difficult task of hitting the target will be the center of attention—and a grunt of effort here and there will fill any awkward silences.
2 Union Square, Somerville, 857-997-0025, urbanaxes.com/boston.
A night at this retro arcade game mecca and high-energy bar concept from Big Night Entertainment Group is sure to provide plenty of conversation fodder. How could Pac-Man on a vintage-style machine offer anything less than a night of fun? Wednesday nights are player-versus-player game nights (possibly the ideal day of the week for a date). From skee-ball and air hockey to Jurassic Park pinball, giant Jenga and dozens of board games, there’s an activity for everyone. We just hope your date agrees.
42 Province St., Boston, 617-482-1213, versusboston.com.