Big-crowd cruis­ing

GA Voice - - Arts Reviews - By RYAN LEE

As a mod­er­ate drinker, I find such prom­ise in a noon­time buzz. I as­sume the magic of be­ing tipsy just af­ter break­fast di­min­ishes with fre­quency.

My friends and I had glo­ri­ous plans to start drink­ing around noon at the pool in my apart­ment com­plex, then walk with our cock­tails to Pied­mont Park for the Dog­wood Fes­ti­val. Our meet-up was de­layed sev­eral hours since one of us was boo’d-up Satur­day morn­ing, but we were able to achieve that day­time tin­gle be­fore cel­e­brat­ing the kick­off of the Sum­mer Fes­ti­val Cruis­ing Sea­son.

Here’s a ba­sic guide for semi-re­spon­si­ble min­gling:

Wear sun­glasses

There’s a risk of look­ing undig­ni­fied when scan­ning crowds for eye candy, and sun­glasses al­low your gaze to some­times linger. How­ever, shades don’t pro­tect you from ap­pear­ing shady, so stay re­spect­ful with how long or in­tensely you ad­mire any­one.

Three is the magic num­ber

I’ve en­joyed fes­ti­vals solo or with a friend, but the ideal en­tourage for big-crowd cruis­ing is a three­some. Mo­sey­ing through a fes­ti­val with just one other per­son cre­ates am­bi­gu­ity about your re­la­tion­ship sta­tus, and it can be daunt­ing (even lo­gis­ti­cally) for some­one to ap­proach you in a crowd of four or more.

Use real-world man­ners

You’ll be sur­prised by how many guys you see who you know only by their screen names and thumb­nails. You’ll see for­mer hook-ups with their fam­ily, friends, co-work­ers or a lover. Stay mind­ful of whether th­ese sight­ings call for a hug, wave, nod or noth­ing.

Names aren’t nec­es­sary

When greet­ing some­one you know in the most limited con­text, a sim­ple, “Hey there,” or “What’s up,” usu­ally suf­fices. Spare Carl the awk­ward­ness of ex­plain­ing to his friends why you called him DJ.

When some­one in your group stops to greet a gen­tle­man of in­ter­est, it’s re­spect­ful for the rest of the group to walk three or four ad­di­tional steps to al­low for rem­i­nisc­ing or mak­ing ar­range­ments. En­joy some scenery or a ven­dor booth un­til it’s clear whether your friend con­sid­ers group in­tro­duc­tions nec­es­sary.

Stroll cour­te­ously

Whether you run into a fa­vorite regular or an old friend you now only see on so­cial me­dia, limit re­unions to two or three min­utes. It’s al­most ex­pected that ev­ery­one in the group will come across folks and chat, but don’t in­ter­rupt the fes­ti­val flow with a living tour of your lit­tle black book.

Share cau­tiously

Pre­pare a cache of neu­tral set­tings in case your friends ask how you know a familiar passerby. It’s not so much ly­ing to say “from the of­fice,” or “at the gym,” as re­spect­ing some­one’s pri­vate af­fairs when you’re sur­rounded by 5,000 peo­ple. Like­wise, re­sist spilling de­tails of you all’s pre­vi­ous en­coun­ters, although it’s fair—and just—to widen your eyes to sig­nal your bestie that the en­counter was mem­o­rable.

Own your se­crets

The tips thus far have been for sin­gle gay men of a cer­tain dis­po­si­tion, but the fi­nal one is for those who may be less lib­er­ated: If you are clos­eted, or part­nered while still hook­ing up on the side, it is no one’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to shel­ter your de­cep­tion.

If you’re a man of many se­crets, fried pickles and fun­nel cakes might be too messy for you.

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