Chris Backley is a native Angeleno writer/photographer that blogs about dating and happiness (mutually exclusive). He’s also a former paramedic and an exquisite Oreo chef. @BackleyChris on Twitter. This is the debut of his new column on Angel-City dating, L.A. Actually.
Two titans sit on the opposite coasts of America. Both represent a completely different brand, and both have a different way of conducting business. New York is frantic and alive, L.A. casual and invigorating. New York has the subway and crowds, L.A. has cars and open space. New York has amazing pizza, L.A. has amazing sushi. And we can’t forget about the people — they’re just different on the West Coast. Take it from a guy who’s spent 95% of his life on the West Coast, with a stint in the N.Y. area. Los Angelenos are different than New Yorkers, and you can bet your briefcase that those differences carry over to the world of dating. Here’s an overview of the biggest differences.
Yes, the Cars
With 503 square miles and 3.8 million people in L.A., we are a population that likes to spread out. And because of the lack of quality public transportation (“only hobos take the bus” is still a mantra you’ll hear often) we drive cars. The ubiquitous traffic is the No. 1 complaint about L.A., but I will happily put up with gridlock for the comfort of 70 degrees-and-sunny every day.
When it comes to dating with a car, you have to factor in alcohol intake and tricky by-the-neighborhood parking logistics. Typically, you can get to know someone pretty well by two vodka crans, so we don’t usually go beyond that (take it from a paramedic, the DUIs aren’t worth it). If you happen to go out in a group, it’s pretty easy to find a designated driver — usually there’s at least one person on a juice cleanse. As far as “where to park,” Angelenos know all the secret parking spots just like Stefon knows all the hot clubs in Manhattan. It’s a regional skill set, and we’re used to it. The benefit to car culture is if you pick your date up from her apartment, you then have to drop her off at the end of the night. A lot of conversational intimacy can be created in a car, as can plenty of romance. It’s up to you if you want said romance to be in the back seat or up in her apartment.
We Have Flexible Hours
No one has a real defined adult-person job in L.A., and without proper construct our hours are “fluid.” That’s why you’ll find many Angelenos lounging around sipping cappuccinos on a Tuesday afternoon at Intelligentsia, eating breakfast at 4 PM at Kings Road Café, or writing a script in the middle of the night at Canter’s. We also dress however we want, from sandals to Loubotins. In Los Angeles the powerful people never wear ties. We do business deals over shots of wheatgrass.
This so-called fluidity has a serious perk, dating-wise — we can go out on “day dates.” It’s the perfect way to see the person you met at a bar last night in the afternoon sunlight. Plus you can go for the less-pricey lunch menu, and if he turns out to be deadly dull you have the perfect alibi: “I gotta run, I have a meeting with CBS in 20 minutes.” Undefined hours also means we don’t have to stay out at the bars until 3 AM, because we’re usually off from work by 3 or 4 in the afternoon.
We Really Are a Lot Less Uptight
If the “New York hello” is a middle finger, then the L.A. hello is a nod behind face-swallowing sunglasses. East Coast people call themselves “assertive,” while West Coasters would label them as “aggressive”. That was the biggest change I had to adjust to after moving to the East Coast. Turn on New York sports radio, you’ll get Mike Francesca screaming at the same caller for 10 minutes about Carmelo being a ball hog. In L.A., Mason and Ireland will listen to some ridiculous claim about Kobe for eons, say “thank you for your viewpoint!” and then move on to the next caller. We’re the culture that surfs, smokes pot, and drinks zinfandel — often all at the same time. In New York, people are always looking to make that million in the markets or VC. In L.A., we write screenplays by pools, make movies, paint our feelings, downward dog our stress away, and plant organic gardens. And occasionally we really do surf Malibu in the morning and snowboard Big Bear in the afternoon — all those obnoxious L.A. friends of yours aren’t lying.
In our view, it’s easier to move from New York to L.A. than the other way around. So you can keep your subways and pizzas and we’ll keep our cars and sushi. But make no mistake about it, one truth remains constant: dating in L.A. is just as rife with drama as dating in New York. A topic we’ll visit in more detail next week.
Caper of The Week
Go: Sunset Junction in Silverlake
Park: Neighborhood street parking to the west of Sunset.
Eat: The rotating locavore menu at Forage or the Vegan Chocolate Orange Cupcake at Lark Cake Shop.
Drink: The Sazerac at Bar Stella or the mint tea at the Casbah Cafe.
Do: Shop for crafts at Reform School or re-enact World War II at the military Surplus Value Center.