“It’s hard to meet people in LA.” I hear this complaint quite often. Our city is not like other metro areas which are smaller centralized, street-life oriented, and possess strong public transportation systems. There are many towns within this metropolis. And of course there is a tendency for people to socially isolate by only connecting with friends in their respective career industry. So, meeting new people in LA takes a bit of pro-activity. This article--whose contents come from my experiences and those of friends--should give you some valuable insight into how to meet people in Los Angeles.
Dog Parks and Trails
Every guy in town knows that hitting the dog parks and trails is a great way to pick up girls. This was of course immortalized in an episode of HBO's Entourage. Since one of the key social barricades is ‘the opener,’ heading to pet-friendly public spots really helps. Your dogs provide the fodder for conversation--unless of course they trot up to the wrong guy or girl. “Bad dog, bad dog!”
Hiking Trails and Tracks
LA’s trails are not limited to dog walks of course. Plenty of joggers and hiking aficionados have made friends by getting out there and hitting the trails. This is a great sober (non-bar) daytime activity that can put you in contact in the right way with new people.
Runyon Canyon in W. Hollywood, for instance, is quite popular and even boasts weekend outdoor yoga classes. But don’t run the entire time. Remember to stop and take a break. Between breaths you might just strike up that conversation that launches the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Best Hiking Trails in Los Angeles
Bookstores and Author Events
I personally met a good friend of mine in a bookstore. We were both browsing in the same obscure section and got to talking about the topic at hand. These spots have built-in, natural topic starters throughout their shelves! There are bookstores for every type of person and mood--from independent book shops to larger booksellers like Barnes & Noble--all great for a meeting of the minds.
If you’re still feeling shy about bringing up that latest political biography or searching for an ‘in’ in the ‘self-help’ section, try an author event. It is common for group and individual discussions to ensue during and after readings and signings (so stick around afterwards as well). I met another great friend of mine at a reading at Book Soup in W. Hollywood. Make sure to choose a reading that reflects your interests, of course, and your chances of a long friendship will be greater.
This is the way I have made most of my friends in my adult life (beyond work). Find a coffee place whose character you like and frequent it. After a while you will see the same faces and likely exchange hellos, and so the contact begins.
Of course you’ll never meet anyone if you sit in the ‘laptop ghetto’ with your face glued to the screen. I have found that people reading magazines at coffee places are more often approached (again, it’s a case of common interests) than iPhone or Blackberry addicts. The latter tech devices makes you look inaccessible.
A lot of times conversations at coffee spots are struck up in the most mundane of ways: at the sugar and cream station or waiting in line. It doesn’t matter how the conversation starts. The point is to be open, look open and be bold as well.
Sports and Sports Teams and Clubs
Even my mother--a long-time Angeleno--has made new friends here by joining local golf groups. Weekly activities are especially great for getting to know new people. I’ve also been approached by new people solo at the driving range--but that’s probably another (lone female) story. Many public parks host group tennis lessons or small groups or leagues. This is a great way to get exercise and meet new people.
The same goes for sports like baseball, basketball and swimming. One friend of mine takes her little daughter to a weekly morning swimming class and meets other moms that way.
Sports Bars and Pubs
Bars are generally left off this list because it's an obvious way that people meet (especially when single), and many people don't feel comfortable going to bars. And often, it's easier to really get to know someone when sober.
However, I've added sports pubs and bars to this list because they are generally more laid-back and 'neighborhoody' than regular bars. Most importantly, they have a central focal point--pool, darts, karaoke--that makes it a lot easier to strike up a conversation. Even the shyest person can usually muster up enough courage to ask to join someone in a game of foosball.
Classes and Continued Education
This is a pretty common way to meet people--and a great way to boost your knowledge base (personally or for your career). You can take classes at UCLA Extension, at Santa Monica Community College, LACC and so on. Often, local high schools like Beverly Hills High School also offer classes for adults on the weekends.
My father, no spring chicken, met lots of new people when he took a voiceover class--and he got some great tracks for a reel as well. Again, make sure to choose something you are really passionate about or interested in and you will have plenty to talk about with your new friends. This can be anything from an academic subject or a technical skill to a sport or art form.
Like classes and continued education, independent groups bring people together through common interests. In this case the group might be a knitting circle (an area that gained popularity in recent years). Web sites like Meetup are great for finding common interest groups in your area. They allow you to plug in your zip code and area of interest.
There are also organizations like LACMA’s MUSE program which brings together young fans of art in LA for members-only events. I have been told that this is a great way to meet other culturally minded people.
Talks and Panels
A couple of examples that come to mind are TED x Los Angeles (the locally organized Technology Entertainment Design events) and Mindshare LA. Both organizations are on the more visionary end of things (but hey, California is a visionary state, right?). The latter for example, hosts talks on mindfulness, human sexuality, the future of space exploration, interactive education, nanotechnology and the art of Burning Man. And I have personally met new people in this manner.
On the foodie end of the workshop spectrum, many wine shops and bistros hold regular tasting events. If you are interested in wine or spirits, this is a great way to meet other enthusiasts. Other examples of these sorts of workshops might involve cooking (at a culinary supply shop) or healing and personal growth (through a new age bookstore or organization). Yoga and meditation classes and workshops are also great ways to meet people in LA.
This is one of the greatest ways to meet people who share interests and who like to share. When you have free time, give it away to a charity or a publicly funded organization. You will meet other charitable people who share your interests.
I have personally given my time to the Braille Institute, political organizations and even a local radio station that relies on listeners for funds. Whether you do phone-banking, stuff envelopes or answer phones, you are bound to meet people who are doing similar things in the office of that non-profit organization.
I can't tell you how many times I've met new people at art openings. If arts and culture are in your arena of interests, I would highly recommend this. Most of LA's galleries have opening receptions for their shows (usually featuring complimentary wine, to boot). These events usually attract open-minded people who are up for discussions on the art on exhibit, or art and culture in general.
What better way to meet people in a movie town than at a film festival? You can catch a screening of the latest or soon-to-be-released films, stay for a filmmaker panel discussion and then for the mix and mingle parties that often accompany these cinematic events. If film is your bag (professionally or as a fan), this is a great way to come across like-minded people.