Meeting new friends is harder when you’re out of school and enter into the workforce. Friendships during youth are mostly a result of geography and convenience, where classmates and neighbours are good company. As people move away and focus on their individual interests, as school and work become more demanding, and as our patience for unreciprocated friendship declines, so do our birthday party invites. As we mature, time and geographic constraints, and even gaining the courage to go out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to a new friend becomes a little bit scarier.
I agree with the statement the ratio of times I hear, “We should hang out!” to actual hangouts is about 10 to 1, from the article, Why 30 is the decade friends disappear – and what to do about it. And I’m in my 20s. Meeting “surface” friends may be easy, like grabbing a coffee with a coworker at lunch or chatting with people after yoga, better known as “acquaintances.” But finding good friends or a “best friend” is not as easy as it used to be.
We’re lucky to have a strong network of young professionals in Hamilton and many interest groups where people can come together and spend time doing things they enjoy. With so much to do in the city, a trip downtown (if you live elsewhere) can place you in the midst of like-minded people who enjoy the same activities you do. (I’m sure there are many places elsewhere – please comment with suggestions outside of the core.)
I was recently asked for suggestions by a Hamilton newcomer who socializes with colleagues, but their relationship starts and ends in the workplace. (I have met some of my best friends from the workplace and outings usually have to be planned well in advance.) After thinking of suggestions for my response, I was inspired to write this post. Whether you’re new to the city, single, or just looking for ways to have fun outside of work, here are some of the best activities to try solo in Hamilton.
I have to admit this is an activity that may get tiring after one too many cocktail parties. Networking can be a lot of small talk and selling, but you may find a new friend or two in the process. At the very least, you’ll connect with people with the same professional interests. Networks such as Hamilton Hive and Software Hamilton events are a good place to start. If you’re an entrepreneur, finding a coworking space to work out of like CoMotion on King or The Seedworks or even going the Hamilton Library will give you more company than your Macbook.
If you’re looking for a network to join, ask people. The internet makes it so easy to connect with others – whether you send a quick email, tweet someone you see doing something interesting, or reach out on a forum to find a network for you.
If you enjoy cycling, it doesn’t have to be a solo activity along Hamilton’s gorgeous nature trails. This is the perfect place to enjoy Hamilton with other newcomers to the city, with plenty of cycling activities such as cruising with the Glowriders or taking a food tour with Bike Appetit. Too new in Hamilton to know about the Glowriders? The Glowriders are Hamilton’s (friendly) bicycle gang. They ride around the city at night radiating tunes, bright lights, and good vibes. Founded in 2012, the group gathers monthly (during cycling weather) at Durand Park and ends their ride with beers on Augusta Street. Their next ride is August 27. For foodies, Bike Appetit offers brunch and dinner tours for groups of ten or less.
If you love a good game of Clue as much as I do, there are a bunch of coffee shops and bars with board games to take the attention off the WiFi. (Side note: on my recent trip to Portugal, almost every Wi-Fi password we requested was something cheeky like “talktoeachother” where I thought my server was giving me attitude.) Gameopolis and Mancala Monk are board game cafes, but you can also find favourites around the city at bars like The Ship and The Brain. Places, like Gameopolis, have social mixer gaming nights so you don’t have to come with a crew to enjoy – you can join another table.
What’s more fun than trivia?! On Mondays, join a trivia group at Baltimore House or Black Sheep Snack Bar where you can engage in friendly competition and possibly win food for prizes. Lou Dawgs hosts trivia every Monday. The first Monday of the month is themed ( The Office, How I Met Your Mother, etc.) and every second Tuesday is Seinfeld trivia. For fans of The Simpsons, The Honest Lawyer hosts Simpson-themed trivia on the first Tuesday of the month. And, a quick drive to The Brassie in Ancaster will lend you in fabulous trivia land with the city’s best nachos!
Dancing is a fun activity and great source of exercise! Soul Soul Productions hosts events like free Salsa on the Waterfront at Pier 8 Park and dance nights at the Spice Factory. Yoga is also a place to meet cool people; though some people may just want their alone time, you may find others willing to socialize for a few minutes before and after class. De la Sol is my favourite downtown, but I love to visit Hot Yoga Stoney Creek closer to home. The Other Bird group hosts Wednesday Yoga / Thursday Cardio for free outside City Hall at noon. Soul Sessions is also a favourite fitness studio.
momondays momondays takes place on the second Monday of the month where speakers (not always from the city) share their personal stories. It’s a very inclusive environment that kicks off with hugs from strangers (germaphobes – maybe this isn’t for you). It’s a great place to get inspired, motivated, and meet the nicest people – a perfect spot for newcomers to Hamilton!
Academy of All Things Awesome
Erika is awesome and hosts everything from cocktail mixing classes and dance classes to family-friendly capture the flag games and steamy pop-up bars, and even rice-krispie making classes. If you have something you’re awesome at, you can even teach a class. Her motto? “Try interesting things. Meet cool people. Do cool stuff.” Isn’t that why you’re still reading this?
Arts & Culture
Both the Art Gallery of Hamilton and Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra have groups for young professionals with different discounts and special events. Both of these organizations are great places to start if you want to get involved or are looking to meet fellow artists. The CLiC is the Art Gallery’s young professional collective that puts on social events and cultural experiences like the recent Camp AGH event in partnership with Girl on the Wing. (Friends are easy to make when you’re bonding over the s’mores station.) For those under 35, the HPO offers affordable concert tickets at only $17. Besides the HPO’s regular concert series, they have the Young Patrons Circle for people under 35 years old where a membership gets you into afterparties, musician meet and greets, and backstage experiences.
Camp AGH setup has commenced! Party doors open at 8 and you can buy tickets at the door. Very in my element here, setting up the “lounge zone” (cc: @bananisef) #HamOnt A photo posted by Girl On The Wing (@girlonthewinghamilton) on
For book worms, the Hamilton Public Library is an obvious place to start. They run their own book clubs at different branches and other special events. Coffee shop Ark and Anchor runs a sci-fi and fantasy book club called Ship’s Log Club and My Dog Joe has a book swap.
The best advice: Perhaps the most obvious thing is to get out there: volunteer, go for a walk, search for Pikachu. Don’t be afraid to go solo. I’ve gone to tons of places alone and have had a great time (the most recent was a performance by the HPYO – the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra on Thursday). You’re more likely to come out of your shell and meet more people than you would sticking with a buddy.
If you have other suggestions, please share them in the comments!
— Locke Street Shops (@LockeStShops) August 23, 2016
— Cassandra D’Ambrosio (@cassdambrosio) August 23, 2016