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Single and ready to mingle

Surviving as a single in the city is simple if you have the skills, writes Charley Lanyon

 

OH, TO BE SINGLE IN HONG KONG. Thanks to its unbalanced gender demographics, often insular expat community and long working hours, finding the right partner here can be a tricky business.

Hongkongers are hungrier for love than ever, reveals a recent survey by social networking app Paktor, which polled 500 Hong Kong men and women on their dating habits. An impressive 63 per cent of them reported dating more than once a week - around 30 per cent say they date two people at the same time.

So, from the latest apps that are digitising the local dating scene, to the hottest spots to find likeminded singles and advice from the experts on how not to blow it on your first date, here's everything you need.

 

Surefire first dates

Life's journeys begin with a single step. For love affairs that's a first date. Mind your step.

ABC Kitchen
A perfect first-date spot. ABC Kitchen's (right) wet market setting makes it uniquely Hong Kong, and the food and service are old-world romantic. Start with suckling pig and share a soufflé. Sparks will fly.
Shop CF7, Food Market, 1 Queen Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 9278 8227

Morton's of Chicago
If you want to impress, go for the classic combination of steak, low lighting and a great view. Also, hope that your date is "the one" - romance like this doesn't come cheap.
4/F Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel, 20 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2732 2343

The tram
It's a wonder more people don't do this. Some would suggest Hong Kong's most romantic date involves drinking champagne, watching the city pass by from an open-topped tram.

001
And after the date? Head to Graham Street in Central for a drink at Hong Kong's worst-kept secret, the speakeasy 001. If a nightcap here doesn't seal the deal, it was never meant to be. The location is a secret. Telephone 2810 6969 or Google it.

 

Building a love buzz

Ah, love in the time of the iPhone. Resistance is futile. Jump on the cyber bandwagon and look for love with your phone.

Tinder
The simple interface and emphasis on fun makes browsing for a potential mate downright addictive. Tinder is the Candy Crush Saga of dating apps: it can be difficult to put it down once you start.

OkCupid
Although it's one of the most popular dating sites and mobile apps elsewhere, OkCupid in Hong Kong seems to mainly appeal to a bunch of lonely hearts.

Grindr
This gay hook-up app caused a mini-sexual revolution when it was launched. It's mostly for singles seeking a more, shall we say, fleeting romance.

Blendr
Don't worry straight daters, there's a hook-up app for you too. Although Blendr, the straight answer to Grindr, may rattle some hetero sensibilities. Not for the faint of heart.

Paktor
Just launched in Hong Kong, this Singapore-based dating app is Asia's answer to Tinder, and aims to take the stress and embarrassment out of dating.

 

Finding Mr or Mrs Right

Looking for true love or to get more serious? There's no shame in seeking out a little help from the professionals.

Speed dating
Speed dating is fun, trendy and convenient. Plus, it works. To find an event near you, visit Hong Kong Speed Dating at hkspeeddating.com. You have just a minute or two with each person. Make it count.

Matchmaking
Computers are fine but sometimes true love requires the human touch. Matchmakers have been bringing people together for centuries. Hong Kong Matchmakers - visit them at hongkongmatchmakers.asia - caters to a mature, professional crowd.

Lovestruck
Lovestruck calls itself the city's best dating site and lovestruck.com/hongkong boasts more than 60,000 sign-ups. The service allows you to find someone who shares your interests, in your area. They also have an app.

Meetup
Less pressure than a dating service, a Meetup group event is a great way to meet like-minded people and explore the city. At hong-kong.meetup.com there are Meetups of all sorts and the opportunity to find someone special.

 

Down and dirty

There's no shame in wanting a bit of fun, even if you're not looking for love. Hong Kong is one of the world's sexiest cities. It would be a crime not to make the most of it.

Volar
Many a Hong Kong prowler's go-to spot. Volar's late hours and reputation for debauchery make it a prime pick-up destination. With two dance floors, it's double the fun.
Basement, 38-44 D'Aguilar Street, Central, tel: 2810 1510

Club 97
On the less-glamorous end of the singles spectrum is Club 97. Here, you're guaranteed a good time, often into the wee hours. The dance floor is a perfect combination of pulsing and low-key that encourages strangers to come together.
9 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, tel: 2186 1819

Castros
Hong Kong Island doesn't have the monopoly on the dating venues. Next time you find yourself in an amorous mood in Tsim Sha Tsui, head to Castro's. This convivial watering hole seems to host an inordinate amount of singles.
16 Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2957 8041

Fatty Crab
Gorgeous, fun-loving people crowd the bar at Fatty Crab every day of the week. With a few of their famous Picklebacks in you, you're almost guaranteed sexual success.
11 Old Bailey Street, Central, tel: 2521 2033

Propaganda
Propaganda is a divisive club in the gay community: you either love it or you hate it. Still, Propaganda is a pick-up spot nonpareil. Those that look hard enough are sure to find.
1 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2868 1316

 

Ask an expert

Bad breath tops a long list of turn-offs in Paktor's survey, followed by swearing, and among others, dirty fingernails, bad skin, yellow teeth, and heavy make-up.

Belinda Flanders, marketing manager at Lovestruck, offers some expert advice on how to navigate the often intimidating dating world.

Become a better version of yourself
Get fit, take a course, spring clean your life, make an effort. You have time to focus on yourself, so use it to reassess your personal narrative, your mission, values, goals and dreams. No one is coming along with the sole purpose of completing you. You're responsible for that.

Embrace being single. It won't last forever
Make the most of being independent. Live a full life. Do whatever you want to do. No one's stopping you. I meet people frustrated by their single status and, honestly, what's more attractive is to put a positive spin on it. You're free.

Get out there
Get online. It's a numbers game. Avoid lengthy volleys of e-mail - a few messages ought to be enough to arrange a date. Then, test the chemistry over drinks at happy hour. Hour is the operative word. Snappy dates are efficient, cost-effective and the best way for busy people to see if they click. And sometimes, drinks turn into dinner.

Be social
Attend events and join interest groups. Stand in the centre of the space, solo or in a pair, rather than surrounded by a group of friends. Smile. It's the best-known method for making friends and, remember, every person you meet represents a fresh social network.

Be polite
If it works, it works. It won't work with just anyone. Accept that and diplomatically suggest that it's not working out for you when you need to let someone down. Show respect and, in the spirit of supporting a healthy dating culture, treat others as you wish to be treated.

 

Single and satisfied

There are plenty of people that are single by choice and happy to stay that way. Hong Kong is a great city for singles: it's safe and full of activities, restaurants and bars that are ideal to check out solo.

Japanese
Japanese restaurants, with their emphasis on bar-style seating and small portions, are perfect choices for a date with your book. The most extreme example is Ichiran in Causeway Bay (right; G/F Lockhart House, Block A, 440 Jaffe Road, tel: 2152 4040), where diners must eat alone in the privacy of tiny cubicles.

Pubs
Pubs are oases for the solo tippler. They have all the charm - and alcohol - of a bar without the constant annoyance and desperation of the singles scene. Plus most have television and food. The Phoenix (G/F, 29 Shelley Street, Mid-Levels, tel: 2546 2110) is one of our favourites.

Tapas
The tapas craze gripping the city has been a surprise boon for singles. With tapas, unaccompanied diners wanting to try new things can order a variety of dishes without breaking the bank or overeating. Boqueria (7/F LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2321 8681) serves up some of the best tapas around.

The cinema
We will never understand why people consider the movies such a great date destination. You can't see each other, you can't speak to each other, and the most romantic thing on the menu is a hot dog. A Sunday afternoon solo trip to the cinema is one of life's great pleasures.

charley.lanyon@scmp.com

 

 

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