Thursday, September 15, 2011

The woman you didn't say hi to in your yoga class last weekend

I recently chatted over email with a 25-year-old woman who moved to Allentown from NY back in June when her boyfriend got a new job in the area. She's a freelance illustrator and works from home.

Her first email stated:
I haven't had a lot of interaction with other people since moving, and I didn't know anyone in the area to begin with. Any suggestions for things to do, clubs to join, classes to take, etc. that would help me meet people? I joined a gym and a yoga class, but they're not quite doing the trick. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
(Does this sound like you? Or maybe sound like someone you saw in yoga class and didn't say hi to? I'm guilty of this too sometimes.) After I quit beating myself up, I asked her:
You mentioned the gym and yoga as two interests, but what else do you like to do? Would you take an art class at the community college, PSU or ArtsQuest? Or teach one? Would you join a sports team with a bunch of strangers? Do you like wine and beer? Irreverent comedy?
What age range of people and gender are you looking to meet? Couples to hang out with your boyfriend? or girlfriends? Mentors? What area do you live in?
She replied:
I'm 25. I live in west Allentown a few blocks north of Muhlenberg, though my boyfriend and I have found ourselves in Bethlehem a lot, especially when we want to go out to eat. We're both sort of foodies. It would be great to meet people we can both hang out with, though of course I wouldn't say no to girlfriends either.

I actually looked into some art classes to take and teach, so you kind of read my mind! I would LOVE to take an art class. My main issue with that is I'm not exactly rolling in money, so I'd want to make sure it would be worth my while as a class as well as an opportunity to meet people. I do have extensive art training so I don't really want to take a beginner watercolor class, for example. I would definitely be open to teaching too, if I could fit it in my schedule. There is a JCC a couple of blocks from my apartment and I went there asking about teaching opportunities, because back in high school I took a figure drawing class at my local JCC. This one didn't have an art program set up. I don't have a master's degree, so I guess it would have to be a more casual sort of class if I were to teach.

I played softball for many years, and I could definitely join an adult softball league. I could probably persuade my boyfriend to do that too, if they take people of all talent levels. I've been coaching softball and teaching pitching for the past 7 years too. I completely left that back in NY. I don't think I can make the time commitment to coach a team, but I would love to continue giving lessons if I had a place to do it.

My boyfriend and I also swing dance, and would LOVE to get back into that again. We met a lot of people that way in college. I have looked into this, and any weekly or monthly dances I've found have been in Philly. Any idea if there are any around here? We do east coast swing and lindy hop.

Thanks SO MUCH for your help!
Wow! I thought. A swing dancing, softball coaching artist working from home in the West End? How many of those amazing, multi-talented, interesting women do you know? And to think, you didn't even say hello after you did 400 sun salutations on a mat three feet from her. Armed with that information, I did a little thinking and sent back this response:
You live in such a beautiful neighborhood, and the JCC is a tremendous resource there! I am actually surprised there's no art program. Here are my thoughts:
Yoga: I'm not sure where you're taking yoga now, but the Yoga Loft of Bethlehem is pretty social. They have a lobby with couches where people hang out, especially on weekends and especially before and after special workshops.

Art classes: The Muhlenberg College arts department may be a good place for you to look into. They have so many programs in the arts. Have you looked into teaching at ArtsQuest/Banana Factory? There are also artist studios there. You could work there alongside other artists.

Dancing: The only regular dance program I know of is in Easton, at the Third Street Alliance. http://eastonmainstreet.org/ "Dancing on the Thirds - Every Third Friday, 7:00-10:00pm September 16th - Lesson: Night Club Two-Step Enjoy a one-hour lesson in Night Club Two Step with instructor Christine Kam, followed by an evening of open dancing with DJ, Carol Coffinger. Come practice all your favorite ballroom dances! Casual dress, all ages, singles and couples. (Half price admission with college ID). No reservation neccessary, just c'mon down for an evening of good fun and great excerice. It all happens at Third Street Alliance, 41 N. Third Street, downtown Easton.Questions? Call: 610.330.9942. Enjoy dinner or drinks downtown before or after the dance!"

Softball: Not being a softball player myself, I don't know too much about coaching. I do know that The Velocity Sports Performance Center offers coaching for all kinds of sports. I am sure there are lots of leagues out there, but the only one I know of where you can join a team with other random folks is the Roc Social Club. It tends to have a lot of people in their 20s and 30s, vs. the geezer leagues.
Readers, what do you think? What did I miss?

11 comments:

  1. I'm in the same boat as her... except I did take art classes at ArtsQuest, a writing class at Northampton CC, and still didn't really make any friends. I talked to people, and felt some connections, but they didn't really go anywhere. The funny thing is that I mentioned this to a coworker (just started working about a month ago) and she said that this is typical of the area. People who were born and raised here aren't very open to making new friends. They have all the friends they need!

    My advice to the NY transplant is to get a job, even if she doesn't need to, and to make friends that way. For some reason, people give you more of a chance when you work together. She could also join the Yelp community, if she's a foodie. That's a great way to meet people... at Yelp events! Although they're usually in Philly... a few Yelpers here have been trying to put something together for non-Elite Yelpers... hopefully it happens soon, as I think it would be fun and a great way to meet people.

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  2. Oh! Be my friend fun, dancing, foodie, artsy, NY transplant! :)

    Also- my boyfriend and I have taken salsa dancing at the Banana Factory on Friday nights. They offer drop ins for $12 a person I think. Very fun! :)

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  3. I'm in the same boat with Dana - I'll be her friend! This girl sounds fun and has a bunch of interests! :)

    Maybe jumping on the bandwagon with the JCC, she can also check out the local YMCA. I know they do usually have arts programs, especially for the after-school programs and they usually throw in a free or heavily discounted membership as a thank you (instead of a paycheck if she intends to volunteer). This is what I did up in Stroudsburg and then eventually worked there - but that will combine her skills with teaching AND save money on a membership which includes the gym and exercise classes, etc.

    There is also a group on Meetup.com called "No League Needed" - I'm a member but have never gotten to actually go to any events, but they have weekly sports events such as bowling, walleyball, golf, etc - though it does appear to be people in their 40's.

    Also check out the local craft stores such as Hobby Lobby, Michael's, etc - they offer crafting/social classes. I take knitting for $5/class at my local Hobby Lobby and you can't help but talk to a lot of people there.

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  4. That's me! Thanks so much for posting! I should have clarified, I'm so lousy at yoga I never end up in classes with people my own age :)

    @Dana We can be friends! And thanks for the tip about dancing at BF. We'll check it out

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  5. @emtjessi Oops, you snuck in before my comment. Thanks for the suggestions!

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  6. The comment thread here sounds like a girl's night in the making! Shoot me an email, maybe we can meet up! :) dana.blinder@gmail.com

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  7. kristina9/20/2011

    what about junior league

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  8. Kristina, great suggestion. For information about the Junior League of the Lehigh Valley and to fill out a membership interest form, visit www.jllvpa.org.

    Vittlemethis - any cooking classes scheduled in the LV soon?

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  9. If you like swing dancing, definitely check out Fearless Fire Company:

    http://www.fearlessfire.com/

    Allentown Area Swing Dance Society has dances in the Fearless Fire Co Ball Room every Tuesday. Lessons for Beginners, Basics and Beyond, and the more Advanced, followed by open dancing. Singles and couples are welcome, NO PARTNER IS REQUIRED/ They teach East Coast Swing as well as West Coast Swing, The Hustle, Salsa, Night Club, and more. Lesson and dance afterward is only $9.00

    For more info visit www.allentownswingdance.org or
    call 610-390-755

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  10. AWESOME, thanks Catharine! I've been to the Allentown swing dance website but I missed that they have their own dances.

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