Let the night games begin

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
September 5, 2002

The club is thumping, and everybody’s having a good time: You spy a woman across a sea of beautiful people and want to meet her. Do you: a) look in her direction until she smiles at you; b) send over a friend to see if she likes you, or c) saunter over to her and scream, “Wazzup?”

You’re probably going home alone if you answered (b) or (c), but both are better than what a lot of people do: stare.

“Many people walk into clubs with a defensive mind-set,” says Rodney Battles, author of Night Games! A Guide to Understanding and Enjoying the Nightclub and Bar Scene (Brown, $19.95), which hits stores later this month.

At 53, Battles sounds more like a smooth old player than a club scene whiz. If experience is a good teacher, then Battles must fit the bill.
“Women walk in knowing they’re probably going to be hit on by the wrong guys,” he says. “Men know they’ll be rejected by most of the women they approach. Ninety percent of them never get past that mind-set, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. An attitude change makes a big difference.”

Let’s face it–the club and bar scene is intimidating.

“It’s not easy to approach strangers in a bar,” says Jason Erkes, 32, president of the Chicago Sport and Social Club. “I’m single. I know what
it’s like. It’s easier to meet people if there’s less pressure.”

To wit: The club sponsors events and sports leagues so singles can mingle in a less stressful atmosphere than a club.

“Maybe singles will meet someone and talk with them some more afterward over coffee or a beer. The point is they’re not all dressed up in their Saturday night party clothes. They’re more natural and relaxed.”

Chutzpah pays off sometimes, too. Jennifer Schlamp met a man while she was out on a date with another whom she wasn’t digging too much.
“I needed to contact my brother,” says Lincoln Park’s Schlamp, 28. “I didn’t have a cell phone with me, so my date asked this really cute guy if I could use his cell phone. After I made the call, I stuck my business card in the flip part of his phone and gave it back to him.”

They went out for only about three weeks, but she wouldn’t have had a shot if she didn’t try.

“It doesn’t matter where you meet as long as you go out there and circulate,” Battles says. “I have met some of the highest-quality ladies in clubs. I’ve also met chronic clubbers–usually men–who use clubs as a crutch to avoid getting into a commitment. You have to weed through them and decide for yourself.”

Best lines:

“All a woman has to do to get a guy’s attention is, ‘Hi.’ That works every time. We’re usually so flattered that a girl is even talking to us.”
–Jason Erkes, 32, Streeterville

“This really cute guy once said to me, ‘I can’t take my eyes off of you.’ I don’t know if it would’ve worked if he wasn’t so hot, but I thought he was adorable. We only went out a few times, though. He was weird.”
–Mary Santiago, 25, Wicker Park

“I hate lines. ‘Can I take you out for coffee sometime?’ I liked how direct he was.”
–Claire Ford, 30, Naperville

Worst lines:

“If I hear, ‘Are you tired yet because you’ve been running through my head all day’ one more time, I’ll scream.”
–Lori Metcomb, 27, Bucktown

“‘You look like an athletic version of Elle Macpherson.’ That was kind of cheesy.”
–Jennifer Schlamp, 28, Lincoln Park

“‘Who’s your hot friend?’ The last thing a guy wants to be is a conduit for his friend.”
–Mark Winters, 29, Wrigleyville

Rejection Hotline

Someone bugging you to give them your phone number? Go ahead, give them a number–just not yours.

Just jot down (773) 509-5096. It belongs to the Rejection Hotline (www.rejectionhotline.com), a prerecorded message that informs callers, “This is not the person you were trying to reach. The person did not want you to have their real number. I know this sucks, but don’t cry about it. Maybe you’re just not this person’s type. Regardless of the reason, do your best to get over the person who has given you this number because they’ve already forgotten about you.”

Ouch. What kind of twisted person would invent this?

Meet Jeff Goldblatt, an Atlanta consultant, who started the first rejection hotline as a joke a year ago in his hometown. The line now covers 14 cities, including Boston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Seattle and New Orleans–plenty of bogus numbers to cover you at home and on the road.

“It was just a small voicemail line in Atlanta for our friends,” says Goldblatt, 25. “Somehow it just kept spreading until we had hundreds and then thousands of people calling. The volume literally crashed the system.”

The same thing happened in Chicago not so long ago. After a TV news segment on it aired, more than 50,000 callers checked out the hotline.

“This is a nicer way to let someone down than saying no way right in front of them and their friends,” he says. “It also leaves no doubt in their minds that the person who gave you the number is not interested in going out with you.”

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