[Lowball Diary]

On the manhunt: Deconstructing Vegas’ dating wasteland

(Two)-step up: The dancefloor at Stoney’s is a platform for potential romance.
Photo: Mona Shield Payne

The official sports bar of her powerhouse college football team was packed on game day, but the hottest thing Jo found was a chicken wing. She was stunned. She moved to Vegas in July and assumed the streets would be paved with attractive prospects. Las Vegas Boulevard might be, but Jo isn’t about one-night booty. She’s about love, or at least the possibility.

In this Valley of 2 million souls, it’s a mathematical certainty that some men are worth knowing. But the layout and culture make it Where’s Waldo—if Waldo were 20-something with a strong jawline, ambition, wit and a thing for Real Housewives. That’s a bit of what Jo is looking for, despite the local wisdom that Vegas is a dating wasteland. Having recently sworn off love forever, I’m indifferent to whether or not that’s true. But in the name of stupid fun and public service, we decided to find out.

Shakespeare’s Grille & Pub

Day: Sunday Hook: Trivia

I joke that our team name should be DTF. Jo says, deathly serious, that it should be Not DTF. We compromise with Two Broke Girls.

Ponytail Guy is alone at the bar. Equal parts denim and scowl, he appears to Jo to be anti-government, pro-pot and aggressively single. One table has bros with matching thick necks, backwards hats and bored girlfriends, and a tipsy specimen in a Seahawks jersey is singing and (somehow) dancing to “With or Without You.” We spot a bona fide “cute boy,” but he’s with a cute girl. An older man in a suit is camped by the jukebox and tells Jo not to touch anything until his $20 in songs play. We’re in for a lot of Georgia Satellites.

No one talks to us, but trivia is incredibly fun. We wager too many points on the last question and finish just above dead last. We totally high-five.

Banger Brewing

Day: Thursday Hook: Live music

With beer/football and beer/trivia stereotypes covered, beer/music comes next. Banger has been hosting local musicians, and we’re treated to Jinxy Bear and The All-Togethers.

Jinxy sings of spinning the bottle and preferring his wine to gold for a crowd of old married guys, young metalheads, obvious DTPers, local music lovers and tourists. Jo makes accidental, searing eye contact with a fauxhawked man in a huge puffer coat. She grips her pale ale. I gulp my Weiss. And the All-Togethers take the floor. They say anytime we clap, we must drink. So we do, except for Jo. “We’re watching you, polka dot,” says singer Ken Osborne, riffing on her sweater.

The band also riffs on “Man of Constant Sorrow,” “99 Problems” and “Baba O’Riley.” The latter’s “teenage wasteland” chorus hits home, even though we’re older than that and there are people all around.

Stoney’s Rockin’ Country

Day: Saturday Hook: Dancing

At Town Square’s Yard House, I mention our experiment to the waitress, who says she was single for three years before serving her boyfriend at a nearby table (there was a joke about a spanking and, you know). She recommends Stoney’s.

At 9 p.m. the dancefloor is crammed. Some two-step songs are fair game for line dancing, but singles are directed to stay in the middle so couples can dance around them. (Nice.) The urban cowboys skew decades older than Jo was hoping (plus, they’re wearing neck scarves), but the later it gets, the better the scenery. By 10:30, she’s smiling.

“This place has saved Vegas,” Jo says, stealing a glance at a handsome guy watching beer pong. As you do after many drinks, we try guessing his name. I say Jason. She thinks James. When he walks by, I tell him we have a bet that needs settling. I’m so shocked by my own creepiness I actually flinch. His name turns out to be Danny.

He chats for a minute, affable and funny. Jo’s eyes bulge. I know she wants to kill me, but she also wants to hug me. Danny says he’ll come right back. He doesn’t, but Jo’s still smiling. This feels like a day on the river when you see a good fish that won’t bite. Just knowing one is there is enough to keep you casting.

Tags: Nightlife
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