Going out to meet people at night remains one of the most popular ways to find dates. As covered in ‘Dating: How To Date Abroad And The 5 Ways To Empower Yourself In The Dating Market’, ‘Night encounters’ is one of the five categories of meeting people for dating.

Meeting people at night is more complex than ever. There are shifting norms and unwritten rules that the modern dater should be aware of. This article will help you grease the wheels in making your own night encounters successful.

The social dynamics of meeting people at night

Night time signals the end of the working day and the start of leisure for many.

The thing is, most people are hanging out with their friends on nights out. As the famous nineties song goes “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends”. ‘Getting’ with the friends isn’t such a great idea but winning over their favour is.

This might sound obvious to most but you’d be surprised how many people ignore others without a care once they’ve set their sights on someone. Friends are often the gatekeepers. Whatever gender you are and whatever gender you’re interested in, if you don’t prove that you can get on with the friends of someone you’re interested in, there’s little reason to think that they’d welcome you into their life.

Getting on with the friends of someone you’ve just met is as simple as paying enough attention to them and speaking to everyone as a group in the beginning, not only to the person you’re interested in.

You can even create a dynamic where the friend acts as an ‘informant’ about your interest. For example you can find out playful and interesting things about someone through their friends by asking things such as “What is [insert interest’s name] like after a few drinks?” or “Tell me something interesting about ____ that I wouldn’t guess from looking at them”. The strength in doing this is that it’s a fun way of engaging all and you make yourself feel like you’re on everyone’s side.

There’s no denying that it’s easier to be social if you have a friend with you on the night out. This keeps your mood up and makes it easier to engage larger groups of people. Make sure the person you’re with is someone who’s at ease talking to new people and groups. Your friends reflect who you are—they can promote you in a good light or devalue you in a negative one.

Solo tip: If you are by yourself, it’s actually better to talk with a group of three or more people than to a pair. Reason being that a pair only have each other to talk to so if you’re looking to mingle one-on-one with someone you’re interested in, their friend can feel left out and will join in preventing a personal interaction or take your suitor away altogether.

When talking to a group of three or more, this problem no longer exists. You can (eventually) talk to the person you’re interested in one-on-one and their other friends can still talk to each other.

If you have to talk to a pair on your own, here are a couple of pointers:

-> Make sure you engage the friend enough as well as the person you’re interested in. The last thing you want is to make the friend feel left out. They could drag your interest away or discourage them from connecting with you later on.

-> Don’t take up too much time (unless the friend is enjoying your presence with both of them or leaves you together with your interest). The friend wants to socialise as much as anybody else there not be a side accessory.

Accept that you may need to have a short interaction and get the contact details of the person you’re interested in. That way, you can arrange to connect with each other at a different time without encroaching on a pair’s night out.

Meet People At Night Friends

Bars vs Clubs

For the purpose of simplicity, in this article ‘bars’ also includes other types of night time venues distinct from clubs such as pubs or lounges. Although there are differences between these venues, the advice here applies to all of them.

The two most common types of places to meet people at night are bars and clubs. Each one has its own distinctions and knowing how to operate in either is essential for meeting dates in these venues.

The commonality that both venues have is they provide environments where meeting and interacting with new people isn’t just socially accepted but expected.

As I wrote in my overview on dating: “This expectation of interacting and mingling with others creates a social lubrication that many other types of situations don’t have. The drinking that takes place in these environments also greases the social wheels for many. Such factors make what many consider the most difficult aspect of meeting new people easier—starting a conversation.”

Let’s examine and compare both.

Meeting people at night in bars

Simply put, bars are places which provide the space for people to buy and consume drinks.

Of course most people don’t go to bars only to savour the taste of alcohol. They go there to hangout with others whether existing friends or new people. This gives you the chance to meet people at night.

One common misperception about starting interactions in bars is that you should buy the person you’re interested in a drink. This is a bad idea whether you’re a man or a woman.

If you’re a man, buying a woman a drink as an excuse to talk to her sends the wrong signal. It conveys a man who lacks the sense of self-worth to talk to a new person because he feels like it without needing to hide behind the excuse of a drink. Having to ‘buy a way in’ always makes a man come across as a provider. Someone who’ll supply endless gifts in the hope of making up for his lack of confidence and character.

Of course being able to provide isn’t a weakness. In fact, it’s one of the most desired traits in men according to surveyed women. But if you act as a provider right away, you’ll appear beta, seeking permission to talk to a woman instead of going for what you want (which women find attractive).

If you’re a woman, you’re unlikely to need to get a man a drink anyway. But if you did, you’d also send the wrong signals. A man would know you’re interested in him but might believe you’re too needy.

Then there’s the fact that a lot of men don’t like the idea of a woman buying them stuff because they feel it undermines the idea that they should be resourceful. In this day and age, this notion isn’t based on logic but then attraction rarely is. A simple wave, smile or hello to talk to a guy would be better.

This isn’t to say you should never buy someone a drink. Feel free to do so once you’ve established a connection and you feel they reciprocate your interest. Just avoid showering them with freebies before you’ve even said hi.

When speaking with someone new, another common mistake is to ask them question after question in the hope of maintaining the conversation. This occurrence is from not knowing what to say and because asking questions is a good way to show interest in someone else.

Yet such questioning can have the reverse effect of making someone feel like they’re being interrogated. Instead, after asking a question, make a comment about the person’s response. This will create a better flow to the conversation. Then later, if the vibe between the two of you is good, you can ask more questions now that you don’t feel like strangers in each other’s presence.

Meet People At Night Bars

Meeting people at night in clubs

Clubs are venues with music and dance floors which usually (although not always) have a cover charge for entry.

Clubs are probably the highest energy environment there is when it comes to meeting people for dating. The combination of loud music, intense dancing, copious drinking and relative anonymity (due to the number of people) makes everyone as disinhibited as can be.

This means that in a club, your energy generally has to be high if you want to meet people in such a place. If your energy is too low, you risk (i) coming across as misaligned with your environment, and (ii) being overwhelmed by the energy of others. These two points might not matter if you’re just there to hang out with friends and enjoy the music. But if you’re there to meet people at night, they can jar your interactions with the people you’re interested in.

This doesn’t mean you need to have the energy of someone on amphetamines high fiving left, right and centre and breakdancing. But it does mean having a decent energy level. Be prepared to dance somewhat, speak loud enough so that you can be heard over music and engage with groups. Remember, people are in clubs to let loose from the rigmaroles of the daytime. A low, ‘work-esque’ energy is antithetical to this.

The dance element of clubbing can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your dancing aptitude. The physicality of dancing has always created a special type of intimacy between people (this is why so many people go to salsa or bachata classes). If you enjoy dancing this can be a great way to strike up a connection with someone. However, the packed in nature of a busy club and floors sticky from alcohol aren’t always conducive to this type of intimacy. Choose your club wisely by looking at reviews and photos beforehand.

Regardless of your dancing ability and banter with groups, at some point if you’re still interested in someone, you’ll want to speak with them one-on-one. Most clubs have areas on the outskirts such as seated bars that allow you respite from the dancing and a chance to have a conversation. Ask the person to join you for a chat. Leading them away from the dance floor to another area is an example of social paradigms—interacting with someone in a different context to solidify a connection.

Once you have the chance to speak to someone one-on-one, maintain a good conversational flow as discussed in the section on bars. Refrain from ‘interviewing’ them and riff off the responses they give you. This is even more important in clubs than bars as the high-energy of a club doesn’t lend itself well to rounds of questioning.

Meet People At Night Clubs

If at this point you’re thinking this is so not you, don’t fret. Clubbing was never made to be for everyone. This is why there are alternative venues such as bars and multiple ways of meeting people outside of night encounters.

But as with other aspects of lifestyle design, don’t write it off until you’ve tried it. Every so often, everyone needs to broaden their horizons to see if something is a game changer for them. You only learn that by doing something new. If you’ve clubbed a few times and ascertained that it’s not suitable for you, stick with bars or other night time venues.

Once you find the type of venue that you do best in, squeeze it for all it’s worth.


Going out to meet people at night continues to be a popular way of finding people to date in real life. The reservedness of the day gives way to the inhibition of the night. This creates a social lubrication that makes it easier to interact with brand new people.

Despite the more open nature of night time, mingling with others doesn’t come naturally for many. Interacting during the night can be daunting but there are ways of improving how you do it.

For starters, be aware of the social dynamics at night. People are almost always with others when hanging out then and they act as de facto ‘gatekeepers’ to someone you’re interested in. Show that you can get on with the person’s friends as much as them if you want any chance of seeing them again.

There are essentially two main types of venues to meet others at night: bars and clubs.

Bars are venues which have a lower-energy than clubs but are easier to have conversations in. Be sociable and maintain conversational flow by avoiding ‘interview mode’. Avoid buying someone a drink to start a conversation as you’ll send the wrong signals.

Clubs are high-energy environments with dancing and loud music. This requires your energy to be at least somewhat high to be able to maintain a vibe with your interest inside such a place. Be prepared to dance and leverage the concept of social paradigms by moving someone to different places in the club to get to know them better.

Curious about more or want to know how to meet people to date outside of night time? Subscribe to Abroad Lifestyles for future content on dating and access the archives of the golden nuggets we have about dating already.