The Non-Bar Guide to Being Single in Corvallis: Papa’s Pizza and a Fear of Tango

Photo by Martin and Renee Norred at Rabscuttle.com.

Last fall my friend asked me to join her young family and friends for their Friday night gathering at Papa’a Pizza Parlor. Weighing my options, I scrapped my usual Friday night routine of after work yoga followed by beer drinking with my married neighbors. Around seven I headed over to Papa’s, well known among Corvallis parents for its unique housing of pizza, beer, and a plastic ball pit with a child-herder on staff.

Despite a fantastic reputation as a place where your toddler can disrobe without attracting attention while you grab a slice, it isn’t a place a single adult wanders into often. So there I was, perched at a table built long and low for third grade birthday parties, as I gripped my plastic mug of beer and observed the chaos and family dynamics. Suddenly very aware of my singledom, I took a swig of beer and thought to myself: it’s time to up my game.

Did a part of my want to run far away and never return to Papa’s Pizza? Sure. Did a part of me want to speed up my biological imperative, make a family and return to Papa’s Pizza with my own disrobing toddler? Yup.

Faced with this familiar inner conflict now symbolized by an Italian father figure, I figured it was high time to get out of my personal rut and stop complaining about being an underrepresented demographic in Corvallis—post-college but not settled down and bringing up kids through the school system.  I resolved to stop socializing only within a four-block radius in downtown, the epicenter of all things Corvallis, and decided to explore some ways to meet people that would get me out in the community and out of my rut.

I considered starting with something adventurous and romantic, the Tango. Sexy, sultry, and heels are mandatory—how can you sign up for tango lessons and not expect to meet people? However, after a session of over-thinking the matter, I realized that sexy is as sexy does, which led me to friendlier pastures with the Corvallis Swing Dance Society. I asked lead coordinator Jeffrey Anderson how swing dancing pans out as a casual way to meet people.

“It definitely fits the bill,” Anderson said. “I’ve been dancing for four or five years now, and all my friends and contacts and relationships have been through dance.”

Anderson described swing as one of the most non-threatening social experiences, specifically comparing it to a more serious endeavor like Tango. You can sign up for a swing dancing course that follows the OSU schedule, or get enough of the fundamentals for a fun evening by attending an hour-long lesson offered before weekly social dances. Friday night dances take place at the OSU Women’s Building and monthly swing and blues dances take place Saturday night at the Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Corvallis. Covers are usually $5-7, occasionally more if there’s live music. Check out http://corvallisswing.com for more info.

Next I spoke with a group formed specifically for the post-college crowd, the Corvallis Young Pros. Just to be clear, Young Pros board member Melissa Jones wants people to know this group of professional networkers is not singles-only.

“We started the group because there are a bunch of activities for college students, but we didn’t really have anything for after college,” she said.

Much like the swing dance society, socializing with the young pros is a relatively stress free way to get out and meet people (if you aren’t adverse to name tags). The free, open to everyone events are typically held the 4th Tuesday of each month at a local spotlighted businesses. Expect drink specials, happy hour snacks and lots of introductions. Check out http://corvallisyoungpros.com for more information about this month’s networking event at Sub Zero.

Finally, in my effort to propel myself out of my rut, I considered the social aspect of organized sports. My fears of exposing lifelong hand-eye coordination struggles were mollified by the folks at the Corvallis Sports Park, who facilitate friendly, non-competitive coed soccer leagues that play every weekend.

“It’s pretty laid back,” said CSP assistant manager Erin Henthorne.  “A lot of people will bring one friend, but because you are put on a team full of essentially strangers, it’s an easy way to meet people and a great way to get involved in the community.”

Recreational leagues attract weekend warriors, with games kicking off Friday evenings after 5, Saturdays from early afternoon to nearly 11 p.m., and Sundays from early morning to nearly 10 p.m. The park has an in-house pub with 18 beers on tap and a decently sized menu offering the usual bar grub, and players can even grab a local microbrew before their game. The park also does a good job of keeping people entertained with monthly beer tastings, raffles, and of course a healthy smattering of TVs for Timbers games and whatever else is playing on ESPN3.

If you’re interested in joining a recreational coed team it’s a $25 annual membership fee plus $70 per player, which lasts for eight games. The spring season starts in April, and you can visit corvallissportspark.com for more information.

Another option is to become a volunteer. Visit volunteermatch.org or handsonw.org to explore a menu of cool opportunities around town, or consider writing for the Corvallis Advocate—I hear they have some nice single ladies working there…

by Kerry Brown

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