Finding a mate on the job is common, but not so much for creative types who work alone. Fear not, Parliament—a “coalition of creative professionals”—seeks to bring the creative class together. Pecha Kucha Night, the organization’s signature event, has become so popular, it sells out within minutes. If you can score a coveted ticket, go. The gatherings include local speakers who share their tales of their process. Grab a beer and strike up a conversation. www.charlestonparliament.com
Charleston Sports & Social Club
If you’re active, get out of the gym and get your fitness on by joining one of many weekly league offerings, including softball, volleyball, basketball, and dodgeball. The kickball league alone had 38 teams last fall. There’s a decent girl-to-guy ratio of 20-somethings, and a round at the nearest pub often follows the games.
Love skydiving? A cappella singing? Whatever your desire, you can find locals who share the same passion on Meetup.com. Organized by city and interest, Meetup.com is the “world’s largest network of local groups,” and anyone can sign up (for free). The best part? Users are required to create a profile, so you can do a little window shopping before you join.
If “must love dogs” is on your ideal mate checklist, grab your pooch and a leash. According to Lowcountry Dog, more than 30 dog parks set the scene for possible romantic-comedy-esque scenarios for you and Fido. The James Island County Park Dog Park (871 Riverland Dr.; ccprc.com) offers monthly “Yappy Hours” in the summer with live music and beverages. www.lowcountrydog.com/page/charleston-area-dog-parks
At this local adoption center, animal-lovers unite for everything from walking and socializing with pets to helping out at events. Weekend mornings offer plenty of interaction since volunteers are needed to help clean and head up doggie play dates. According to Jessica Branton, Pet Helpers’ Volunteer and Off-site Adoption coordinator, the center has a couple hundred active volunteers, most of whom are young professionals between the ages of 22 and 35.
Lowcountry Food Bank (LFB)
This organization depends on 25,000 hours of volunteer support to feed more than 200,000 people in the state’s 10 coastal counties. Every first and third Saturday, volunteers can help sort, sanitize, and pack food boxes from 9 a.m. to noon. The benefit: “you’re meeting people who care about giving back, too,” says Hollis Tuma, LFB communications and special events manager, who says around 50 to 75 volunteers of varying ages usually help out.
East Cooper Meals on Wheels
Delivering more than 136,000 meals annually to Mount Pleasant, Daniel Island, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, and other nearby areas, East Cooper Meals on Wheels has been a staple in the community since 1985. More than 300 volunteers donate approximately 30,000 hours annually, whether they’re packing the meals or delivering them. This program is a great way for newcomers or singles 40-plus to meet new people. The average age of the volunteers is around 50, says Sarah Vega, the organization’s public relations and communications manager, and they typically spend an hour each week packing meals alongside each other.
Spoleto Festival USA
The 17-day extravaganza (May 24-June 9) offers plenty of opportunities to make a connection with fellow arts lovers. For singles under 40, Spoleto Scene was specifically created to bring young Charlestonians with a passion for dance, theater, and music together through networking events, cocktail hours, and more. Spoleto Society, the festival’s main patron program, has similar benefits but appeals to patrons over 40.
Charleston Wine + Food
Find your foodie match from February 28 through March 3, as the city honors its favorite pastimes: eating and drinking. For the under-30 crowd, evening events like the Opening Night Party and After Hours attract a wide range of guests, while the Pinot Envy Uncorked, Big Bottles, and Vineyard Voyage events get the 40-plus set out and mingling.
Charleston Fashion Week
“It’s like shooting fish in a barrel,” said one savvy male med student regarding his nightly attendance at the runway shows in Marion Square. Smart boy: last year approximately 7,500 fashion fans—the majority of them stylish, young females—filled the tents of this Charleston magazine-produced event. Single guys: mark your calendars now: March 19-23.
Charleston Pride Festival
A four-day event celebrating all things LGBT, the festival attracted upwards of 8,000 spectators in 2012 and is gearing up for its fourth annual event in July. A film festival, art walk, parade, and rally—along with a sure-to-be-sexy beach party—round out the festivities. Locals can also get involved by volunteering.
Charleston Jewish Federation (CJF)
CJF’s Young Adult Division (YAD) brings together Jewish locals between the ages of 21 and 35 for monthly social, community service, and cultural events. Since the group isn’t specifically geared towards singles, “we’re able to bond over shared interests and beliefs in a relaxed atmosphere,” says director Sarah Roshfeld, who met her significant other through the program. This month, YAD will start holding Shabbat dinner just for singles, and past singles-geared events include a “Tu B’Av Booze Cruise” along Charleston Harbor and an annual “Matzo Ball” held on Christmas Eve. www.charlestonyad.org
For Christian singles ages 30 and up, the popular Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant offers a “Seacoast Singles” ministry. Sharon Hicks, who has led the group since 2007, says they meet regularly at the Sunday 6:15 p.m. service and then head out for food and fellowship at a local restaurant. Social events outside of church attract a number of followers as well—the group hosted a party this past New Year’s Eve with about 60 in attendance, and dinners and brunches are also common.
St. Michael’s The Gate
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church calls its “The Gate” group a “front-porch” ministry for local 20- and 30-somethings. While The Gate gears itself primarily towards singles, married couples without children, young professionals, and college students, all are welcome and invited to bring friends within and outside of the church. Meetings are held monthly and include either service-oriented events, such as serving dinner at Crisis Ministries, or social gatherings, such as wine tastings.
New to town? Newly single? The dating world can be a scary place and many prefer to ease into it through the comfort of their laptop
Start with what’s important to you.
If faith is a top priority, consider checking out a dating website geared specifically towards your religious beliefs. Sites like JDate.com and the recently launched Yenta.com are popular with Jewish singles, while ChristianMingle.com has more than seven million members, and Catholicmatch.com has more than one million members.
Think outside the laptop.
Instead of weeding through profile photos and headlines, users on HowAboutWe.com judge potential mates by their potential dates. Here’s how it works: Users post a fun first date idea, and if another user is intrigued, they shoot them a message to set it up. The average user is between 29 and 35, and since the 2010 launch, more than 300,000 “dates” have been proposed. Other big-box dating sites are also trying to get members away from the computer screen and in front of each other, too. Match.com recently launched Stir, in-person events focused around activities like bowling and cooking classes. The site sends invitations to members “based on demographics,” according to the site’s blog, and guests can bring nonmembers along, too.
Try before you buy.
If you’re never tried online dating before, instead of committing to a pricey monthly subscription at Match.com or eHarmony.com right away, try a free site to make sure online dating is your speed. OkCupid.com is a popular choice (it proclaims itself as “the fasting-growing online dating site” with seven million active members) and uses a question-and-answer system to match users with potential mates.