The excitement of summer has come and gone, and now it seems that the Valley is full of grumpy college students who wait for friends to return in fall, or wait to return to their friends elsewhere. Mixed in between are a sprinkle of new Valley goers and those whose college days are behind them, and all wonder: 'Where can I go to meet people in this town?'
For some, bars are still the way to go. American Hairlines employee Sara Nadberazny says that the buzz around the salon is that the martini bars on Broad are great mingling spots.
"The lounge at Edge is great," she says. "The people are friendly and they get a big crowd at night." Bethlehem's Jennifer Toth and Marlene Rutt agree that Edge, Steelgaarden, Starfish and other upscale martini bars are the way to go.
"If you aren't into the drinking scene, the bar isn't the place to go to find someone you're compatible with," says Andrea Barros, a cafe barista and part-time online college student in Allentown. "I go to the local women's fitness centers to meet girls that are into being healthy." With her friends all away at college, her gymmates offer Barros an opportunity to meet new friends, though she shies away from scoping out guys, because "my boyfriend wouldn't approve."
Mario Amati, an East Stroudsburg student back in Whitehall for the summer, disagrees. "Alcohol loosens people up and makes it easier to start a conversation," he explains. "Bars are a great way to meet new people. Buying someone a drink is a great icebreaker."
Drinking and lifting not your thing? Fear not, Valley socialites, there are many opportunities to mingle. From joining organizations, like the political Lehigh Valley Greens or The Amateur Astronomical Society, to signing up for ballroom dancing or swing lessons, there are clubs sure to find you with your peers.
Fellow Merger Christine McNeal attended a recent Allentown Area Swing Society event in hopes of finding a new hobby and some new friends.
"The crowd was mixed, but there were some cool people," she admits. "I probably would have had more fun if I had gone with people I knew and could goof around more, but everyone was friendly and welcoming."
Those who spend their time at bars find themselves either let down or in an awkward situation the following morning, and super markets aren't doing any justice.
"My mom suggested taking my time at the super market," says Jennie Miller, a recent transplant to the Valley working as a medical assistant in Allentown. "But I've found that I'm more likely to strike up a conversation with a grandmotherly figure in the check-out line than I am to meet a cute guy. Those that are there are generally with girlfriends -- or boyfriends. In either case, they're of no use to me."
Others feel that, particularly during the summer, the Valley can be a lonely place without a friend. "People around here tend to travel in packs," says William Ingber, a recent transplant from Chicago. "In bigger cities you're more apt to find people who go out on their own. Here it seems like people only go out when they're with their colleagues, and it's a lot harder to start a conversation with a group of people -- particularly when they all know each other -- than with one person who's out for a cup of coffee or enjoying the weather."
Mike Santiago, who has spent the past six years studying and working in the Valley, agrees. "Even in the college areas," he says, "You rarely find people who are just out strolling about. It's like a status thing. People around here seem to be afraid to be alone, like it's not cool to go to a movie by yourself or walk through a mall."
Alex Seier and The Blackout Effect were at Montana West Thursday night performing with Sleepwell for a WZZO event.
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