While the mechanics of Irish dating tend to pivot around drinks and more drinks, the opportunity to experience someone’s company in both sobriety and sunlight has its perks. What to do in alcohol’s absence, however, is the ultimate quandary.
This week, we’re at The Science Gallery on Pearse Street. The gallery’s new exhibition, HOME\SICK: POST-DOMESTIC BLISS, runs till July (better still, it’s open until 8pm during the week), and combines art and science to challenge the concept of the home.
Side note: before we launch into this, let us preface by saying that if your date spooks at an exhibition focused on ‘the home’ (maybe makes awkward, commitment-phobic jokes) then you should ditch that person because they sound tremendously lame. End of note.
Maybe you were a science whizz in school, or perhaps you struggled with diagrams of the heart. Either way, The Science Gallery can ring a bit nerdy for first-time visitors. It shouldn’t though; in fact it’s a great opportunity to start conversation, albeit usually facilitated by The Gallery’s t-shirt-wearing staff members. These guys can answer any question and are consistently friendly, knowledgeable and personable, so there’s no reason to feel nervous opening with ‘What’s this one about?’
Scene and be seen
Fortunately the Science Gallery isn’t exposed like the exhibitionist gym next door, but it’s still a glass-walled sanctuary on Pearse Street so don’t expect to go completely unnoticed. Once you’re enmeshed in the exhibitions however, particularly upstairs, you’re less likely to be spotted by the world beyond.
Making a break on Pearse Street should be simple: you’re surrounded by transport sure, but then people, milling and wandering about, also surround you. Certainly nothing says a sloppy exit like mashing into people before running a corner and slamming into a parked car, so before you go, have your Leap Card and DublinBike card at the ready. You never know when you’ll need to make a break for it.
Slightly cheesy, but if the rain abates take a stroll to nearby Grand Canal Docks. Many of the restaurants lean towards glossy, which is incommensurate with first date nibbles, but Lolly and Cooks – Dublin’s cupcake pantheon – stays open till 10pm and will fuel you through rounds of chatter. Also their coffee is all kinds of wonderful.
I once asked one of the attendants if they see many Tinder dates coming through. And it’s not unusual she said, but occasionally there’s one who flaunts their expertise in the worst possible way.
One man, she said, had a proper argument with a member of staff over a placenta, which he insisted was a brain (awkward). Another read poems to their partner. The message I took from this was that rather than swotting up, you’re better off going with an open mind and willing to ask the attendants plenty of questions.
No kidding, they always have an answer.
It’s worth mentioning that one of the pieces (a custom-built lighthouse on the ground floor) includes a ladder, so if you intend to go up, be mindful that short skirts and bare legs could result in accidentally flashing your knickers. Beyond that however, you’re safe to wear what you want.
Free, totally free (unless you visit the café after, which isn’t free but fully advised).
You clamber into the downstairs lighthouse, nerd out over the old New Yorkers scattered on the table (“I read my 10 free articles in one day, too!”) and tickle hands for the first time before giggling your way back down the ladder.
If you want to make a record of your first date, you could also send a postcard, whether to yourself or a pal, which the gallery will send on your behalf (the materials are on hand).
You lose your footing leaving the lighthouse and clatter onto the floor. Or worse again, your date fails to mention they’re a creationist and puts you through an hour’s worth of Christian diatribe (which of course everyone listens in on).