This was originally posted as a question on Quora, but I figured I’d include my answer here too…
If you really want to design a bar for singles to meet each other, then there’s a few things you’re going to have to think about – this isn’t going to happen by chance. And a surprising number of places just kind of throw their bars together, using the skeleton of the place where they found space to rent (usually a bar/restaurant that was open in that location before).
So here’s my list of things I’d do…
You don't want a heavily populated meat market; gets in the way of the actually meeting people.
You don't really want regulars (although that’s great for business) - you want new folks all the time
A carefully designed flow
This is to get people to mix. You need to arrange things so that people have to cross each other without getting into each other’s way.
This isn't a sports bar, and too many people just get sucked into the TV.
You need a "booth" area where people can break off for more intimate conversation. You can only enter the booth area as couples/groups of couples.
Low incandescent lighting, lots of candles. Nothing spoils the mood quicker than bright lighting.
In a similar vein to low lighting, wood paneling, dark earth tones for your décor. No bright white plaster walls.
Make It Easy To Leave (at the end of the night)
You’ll want an easily used, well advertised taxi service, so you can get the hell out of there. And you don’t want your patrons driving home drunk.
Build A Network
If you really want to do this, you’re going to want to set up relationships with other bars/nightclubs - if you hit it off with someone, you're going to want to go with them somewhere else before the night is done. An event list somewhere would be useful.
Doesn't have to be aphrodisiac food - but it should be good.
Careful Music Choices
Music loud enough to hide conversation, but not loud enough to prevent it. And trip-hop/R&B would probably be in the right direction there - stuff like Air, Hooverphonic.
Open Door Policy
Don't refuse entry to non-singles; some people need a wingman/woman if just for moral courage – but DO make sure you keep the ratio of men to women about equal for a heterosexual place.
Need a way of breaking approach anxiety
Here’s the gamification part
You need some kind of game/system to get people up and onto their feet is required. One way to do this might be to accept the fact that you never get to buy a drink just for yourself if someone else is there who needs a drink, and you have to talk to that person to deliver it to them - in person.
Or even better: you can't buy a drink by yourself unless all of the people of the opposite sex (assuming a heterosexual bar) are busy drinking. You need to ask someone to come with you to the bar to get a drink, or you won't be served. Perhaps the bartender won't serve you unless you can give out one piece of trivia about the other person, and their name.
Sounds like someone’s idea of hell, and another’s paradise… Kind of like dating really.
Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.
The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).