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"The sooner you realize that every person in a bar is there for the same reason --- the reason you're there --- the sooner you'll feel comfortable about meeting someone."

Cruising at the Bar: How to Break the Ice
by Jack Rinella

One of the recurring questions at Novice Night is "How do you find a person to go home with?" The answer of course is that one uses the same people skills in a Leather bar that one uses anywhere else: communicate, negotiate, decide, and commit. The language of Leather adds a mystique to the activity of cruising that often increases one's apprehension and distress. Black leather can appear as both an attractive cover and a defensive shield. We can spend all night wondering if they are interested in me or not.

"Breaking the ice" is often the most difficult and most important part of cruising. Until we overcome our initial hesitation and begin a conversation, there will be no negotiation, no agreement, and no getting together. But the ice that needs to be broken is within ourselves. It's not the other guy that's keeping us away. It's our perception of the other person.

For whatever reason, we're afraid they're not interested in us. We fear the rejection, being made to look foolish. We assume that any answer will be a negative one. We forget that they have the same feelings, motivations, and desires that we have. Give up your assumptions and find the truth. It could be, after all, that they're just waiting, wanting, wishing that you'd say something to them.

Of course, at this point in the Novice Night conversation, someone will say that they can't break the ice because they're too shy. I understand. No one believes me when I say that I'm just a shy person pretending to be an extrovert! You don't have to be shy! Friendliness never hurt anyone. Go ahead and smile, send him a drink, walk over to him and say "Hi".

There are millions of one liners to start the ball rolling: "What are you up to tonight? What's going on? How are you doing?" Stick out your hand and introduce yourself. Compliment his attire. Ask him a question: "Who's got the key to your lock? Does that whip get much use? Come here much?" What you say isn't as nearly important as the fact that you say something.

Conversation is the prerequisite to getting together. Sooner or later you're going have to talk to the guy you want to meet. Make it sooner. There is no rule that says you have to wait until the bar closes to say "Hello." So, having used the power of powder milk biscuits (they give shy people the gumption to do what's gotta be done), spice up your conversation with obvious references to what you want to do. Beating around the bush will never get you the beating you're really looking for.

The answers I use may not be the ones you'd use, but they serve as examples. "How am I? Horny." "What am I doing? Looking for trouble." "Come here often? Haven't cum here yet!" Let your answers be descriptive and inviting. Or if you're not interested in continuing the conversation, be polite but not encouraging.

This is no time to let your preconceptions determine what's going to happen. Is he a top? bottom? married? busy? looking for love? experienced? experimental? temperamental? drunk? drugged? Does he play safe? Is she tired? irritable? preoccupied? not interested? not interesting? The sooner you realize that every person in a bar is there for the same reason --- the reason you're there --- the sooner you'll feel comfortable about meeting someone.

How do I know we're all standing there for the same reason? Simple. We all have the same human drive, need, and desire for a social life. We want to be part of the action, to have friends, experience a good time. That may not mean that they're there to get laid, but it does mean you can start up a conversation. And starting up a conversation doesn't commit you (or them) to anything more than a few friendly words.

But if you do get past a few friendly words, then negotiate clearly. And do it while there's still time to make an informed decision. By that I mean, understand the "terms and expectations" of going home with someone, before you go home with them. Better to turn them off in a bar than in a bedroom! Learn what your perspective partner wants to do and how well he or she can do it. Establish limits before you crash head on into them. "Assume" will only make an ass out of you and me.

I recently met a friend and fuck-buddy at a local bar. It's was really nice to see him again. We chatted, kissed, and I assumed... As the bar was closing I went to get my coat. He walked toward the door. I assumed he would be waiting for me outside. Instead, when I got there he was walking down the street hand in hand with someone else! Score one for miscommunications!

So I hailed a cab and reminded myself that there's nothing wrong with going home alone. And there isn't.

Respect for others and respect for oneself are necessities. As horny as we may get, the other ought never become a "piece of meat". Likewise we ought never allow ourselves to lose our own dignity. We have the right to say "No". Remember the other person has the same right. And saying "No" isn't a put down. It is simply an acknowledgement of taste and time. If you live your life in fear of rejection, afraid to hear "No", you'll never be in a position to hear "Yes". Bars aren't the only places to meet the love of your life. Classified ads, clubs, bulletin boards, friends, and parties all offer a chance to say "Hi".

Click here for Alternatives to the Bar Scene

Copyright 1997 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact

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