Oh, she may try a health club or blind date, a personals ad or maybe video dating, but if she ever does shed "The Donald," Ivana Trump may attempt what everyone else does -- a night at a "watering hole."
The first such places opened in this area in 1967, and many others, variously described as fern bars, dating bars, meat markets, sports bars and mixing bowls, have followed.
Whatever the term, the singles bar still is here, although it has undergone some changes.
Without checking population studies regarding the graying of America, one only need eyeball the situation to see the biggest change: The crowd is older. In the late '60s, the first singles bars in Washington catered to the 18- to 26-year-old age group. (Back then, 18 year olds could drink beer and wine.) Though the bars were extremely successful, they weren't considered socially acceptable by the people you couldn't trust then (remember them, the ones over 30?).
Such conservative opinions didn't matter, anyway, since most folks were getting married out of college or high school. Now, from my vantage point at The Yacht Club 20 years later, I'm seeing lines of people over 34 waiting to get in who, incredibly after their divorces, are going out single regularly for the very first time.
The most interesting change in the crowd is the confidence, openness, and understanding of women. Countless times I can remember groups of two or three attractive young women shooting down men one after another as kind of a behavioral ritual when asked to dance. Now, 15 to 20 years later, it's almost as if women have taken "kinder, gentler" to heart. They don't snub silly opening attempts and tall, dark and handsome no longer is the only prerequisite for conversation or dance.
The new confidence of women is most obvious in what they say when they enter. Men always have asked, "When does the action begin?" Women simply asked for a table. Now two women will enter and ask me in a charming way, "When does it get crowded?" or "Is this a good night?" Further, most of them prefer the mobility of the bar as opposed to years ago when the proper etiquette was to sit rigidly at a table, as far away from the bar as possible.
Business savvy goes hand-in-hand with these confident women. Eighteen years ago she was a 21-year-old secretary; now she's the district manager. She hands out her card for business as much as pleasure, and her trip to the bar with two employees is a "write-off."
As dynamic as the changes in the women are, the men haven't quite kept pace. Nowadays when groups of two or three eligible men come in, their mouths drop open as they see so many attractive women over 30 in one place, and they lean against a wall talking to each other for most of the night. The crazy irony is that years ago 25-year-old men would complain to me, saying, "Why do these stuck-up girls come in here if they don't want to meet anybody?" Today, women are the ones who will say to me, "Why don't those guys come over and talk to us? Why are they here?"
I can't account for the lack of aggressiveness in a lot of the men -- maybe for some it's old rejections -- but an antidote is to play a lot more slow music than ever before. Rock-and-roll is here to stay but singles bars in the '90s have added "break-the-ice music," using a lot more Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra on their play lists.
The men may be a little less aggressive, but that's balanced by one big plus that is fine with the women: Once the two are on track and it works, the official coupling, and I don't mean a one-night stand, happens a lot faster than it did years ago. The middle stage, once so popular, of moving in together seems to have lost favor, or at least it doesn't last as long. For example, in the month of July, I announced two marriages and one engagement, all of whom had met at The Yacht Club. We now are in double digits as far as marriages, and all have occurred within eight to 10 months of the first meeting. I'm sure if anybody's keeping count, the same kind of nuptial successes could be chalked up around the circular bar at Clyde's in Tysons Corner or the long bar at Chadwicks in Alexandria.
If you're wondering about those classic opening lines of the '60s, some constants never change. But, "Do you come here often?" now is followed by, "How many children do you have?"