Sex In The Sprawl

If your Christmas stocking hung limp and alone over the fireplace and there was no one to share that popped cork with on New Years, here's to looking for love in 2009!

Alas, Sperling's Best Places ranks Detroit among the worst U.S. cities for dating, while egghead Ann Arbor is viewed as a capital of courtship. If two burgs just 35 miles apart have such opposing romantic profiles, then the odds for metro area matches must lie somewhere in between…

As 2007 receded in Michigan's rearview, 286,000 males and 275,000 females, ages 25-44, were going solo in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Washtenaw counties, according to Kurt Metzger, director of the Detroit Area Community Indicators System . "Don't give up," he advises. "I don't think if you were single in the Detroit region that you'd have to go to Chicago to find somebody. There are plenty of folks out there."

And Cosmopolitan has found two them, naming Michiganders Christopher Stewart of Bath, and Detroit's Greg Brown to their "Hot Bachelors of 2008" list. Of course, the ladies already have the demographic edge so guys are going to have to try a little harder.

While searching websites like and may produce pairings, "…the honesty isn't always there," says Mark, 28, an attorney. "I've met women at the gym, at coffee shops, at the bar through friends, but I'm not sure there's a best way to do it … A lot of it comes down to the individual and their general capacity to engage somebody and be able to talk to them and maybe bring something to the table."

There are tables aplenty at his date-friendly venues of choice – Mon Jin Lau restaurant and lounge in Troy; Chen Chow Brasserie in Birmingham; and Vinotecca wine bar and Fifth Avenue Billiards in Royal Oak.

¡Bailé! Salsa dancing is another way to find someone in a "very interactive" crowd. Erica, 31, who works in the healthcare field, says the passionate Latin dance is fun "because you usually change partners and people that you would normally never talk to or dance with, you have the courage to dance with … It's one of the best ways to meet people that's not too well-known." Sangria's Sky Club in Royal Oak has lessons and salsa nights twice a week.

For jazz and martini bars, she likes Good Nite Gracie in Ferndale, Royal Oak, and Ann Arbor – which also streams Cuban and Senegalese music. Ignite, atop the MGM Grand Detroit hotel and casino, is a low-key nightclub. And the Detroit Social Club  has popular happy hours and co-ed sports leagues.

Face it, that babe isn't right for you

Catch your breath, and you may spot a stunner here, there, or anywhere, and slip into love – "…a state of perceptual anesthesia…" as E.L. Mencken wrote. Although if you're still conscious during the introduction, look deeply at the face. Lin Klaassen, owner of Face Reading by Lin, teaches "Face Reading for Singles" at the Birmingham Community House and hosts workshops in Warren and other locales. This ancient practice, she says, is 92% accurate.

"The real value of face reading in singles is that you need nothing from the other person. You don't have to ask them any questions, so hence, they can't lie," Klaassen states. "In less time than it takes to drink a cup of coffee, a person can actually know your compatibility levels with another person. What you see is what you get. It does not tell you someone's morals, values, or willingness to commit, but it will tell you more about personality and behavior and what it will be like to live with that person."

For instance, "Read. My. Lips" sounds menacing – but not always. "If a person has little thin George Bush lips then I can expect him to be very direct, very to the point, say what he has to say and be done with it," Klaassen explains. Men often love the appearance of Angeline Jolie, she says, but cautions "if you want a woman with those beautiful lips, you need to be prepared to listen to her talk 24-7... you might want to look at those in a magazine, but you really want to live with somebody whose lips are more than double yours ... Any more and it's going to get on your last nerves; it's like geez, just shut up already."

I'll put you in my calendar

Klaassen believes face reading works well in concert with speed dating, where singles pair up for five minute chats with a series of others. That's barely a tip of the hourglass, but Regina Stocco, president of The Social Connection, says about 87% of people obtain at least one follow-up contact through its rapid introduction service, Quick Spark.

Those preferring not to dash off can have a seat at Table for Eight, a dining and social club. The Social Connection affiliate organizes dinners at local restaurants for four men and four women who have never met but are close in age, interests, and preferences.

The Social Connection is "a resource for people who are single and looking for events and lifestyle events to meet other like-minded people," Stocco says. The Ferndale company has 30,000 area professionals in its database, which is 43 percent male and 57 percent female. Two-thirds are 44 and under, and 98 percent hold at least a bachelor's degree. It organizes over a dozen events per month, including after-work get-togethers for business and social networking, holiday parties, happy hours, theater jaunts, sporting events, charity functions, and ski and warm-weather destination trips.

"People have to be very proactive about getting out to meet people and they have to be creative about it," Stocco advises. "They've got to be willing to get out of their comfort zone a little bit and take some chances and do some things that maybe they wouldn't normally do. So if all their friends are in relationships and married, they have to be willing to say, 'Can I go solo to this event and have a good time and get out of my comfort zone a little bit?' "

To fill a crammed social calendar, follow your natural inclinations. If you're tickled by feather bowling, up on rock wall climbing, or in need of cooking skills ranging from gourmet to mere survival, chances are good that someone else is as well.

While the love life does exist here, southeast Michigan's decentralized character, with singles spread over dozens of communities, poses challenges to the dating scene. Stocco and Metzger agree.

"We tend to think that every young single with an education has left the region, and we know that's not true," Metzger explains. "I think there needs to be a case made, saying there are a lot here, but they tend to be spread throughout the region so it doesn't appear, necessarily, that we have the numbers."

He adds, "You can go to Royal Oak and see a mix of folks, you can go to downtown Detroit to various clubs and things … and you can go just about anywhere and find pockets, but there's no real gathering place. There's no place that you can identify, this is where you want to go, this is where you're going to run into a broad variety of singles. … The numbers are there, it's just that the way we're distributed makes it much more difficult to sell that story."

Tanya Muzumdar is a freelance writer and regular contributor to both Metromode and Concentrate. Her previous article was A Scary Business.
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