Surviving at Mixed-Gender Social Events [Teen Article]

Stephanie is a high school freshman from New Jersey. She loves the summertime anSurviving Mixed-Gender Social Eventsd enjoys going to the gym and free writing.

A few weeks ago, my high school hosted a huge dance at our main campus. Sensing that we wouldn’t have anything monumental planned for that Friday night, a few of my girlfriends and I bought tickets to go. I was very surprised by what I saw when we arrived. Girls stood on the dance floor in huddled groups – some dancing, others not so much – while most boys stood on the sidelines with their friends or sat down in the cafeteria across the hall. I didn’t understand: the DJ was superb, the lighting was perfect, and the atmosphere couldn’t have been more club-like and inviting. The surroundings, however, just didn’t match the mood of the students. People actually looked bored!

This type of behavior is nothing out of the ordinary – many students can truthfully say that they are uncomfortable at social school events, especially when members of the opposite sex are near.

Would you like to be able to approach any guy or girl that catches your eye? It’s possible! Growing up in a Russian heritage where any holiday is an excuse to throw a party or go to a European night club, I’ve learned many things about socializing with both guys and girls. Staying in a tight-knit circle of your friends the entire night might get you an unexpected dance partner, but it’s highly unlikely. If you want to mingle with members of the opposite sex, you’re going to have to make an effort! Not too much of an effort, though – in fact, it’s very simple to approach others once you practice it. Let these 6 tips guide you the next time you attend a school dance or party; you just might attract some new friends, or even a potential date!

1. Prepare
It’s important to prepare yourself for any social event. This may mean buying tickets, getting a ride, making sure you have some extra cash on you, and setting aside a nice outfit. It’s also not a bad idea to practice dancing beforehand. Go to your room, close your doors, and play some music that you think will be playing at the event. Work out some moves! Pretend that you’re on the dance floor and are in the middle of the action, being admired by all. It’s a great exercise that’ll help build confidence before you actually attend the event.

You don’t have to prepare topics for conversation as this is much too nerve-racking and unnecessary. You are attending a social event, not a senate meeting. However, preparing ice-breakers is a great idea. Practice saying “hello!” or “hey!” and smiling in the mirror, or anything you can think of that’ll help you initially approach others.

2. Scope Out the Scene
The first few minutes of your arrival can be quite stressful. Calm down. Have a drink of water and say hi to a few friends. Do more listening than speaking. Observe the people around you and bathe in the atmosphere that surrounds you; you really want to get in touch with what’s going on at this party before you jump in yourself. It’s like stepping into a steaming hot bath without dipping your toes in first – not too comfortable, right?

Look at the dance floor in particular, if there is one. Quickly scan the floor and, if you’re interested, scope out some members of the opposite sex. (Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.) Is there someone intriguing out there that you’d like to talk to? Dance with? Keep that person in mind as you observe the rest of the room. Remember that everyone here is different and unique, and has come to have a good time! You’re bound to see and meet some interesting looking people, so look around until you’re comfortable enough to start socializing.

3. Establish a Comfort Zone…Then Leave It
It’s important to have a few friends that you can always stay with and count on during the event to be with you. If you have an emergency and need help, or are just bored or nervous, it’s nice to be able to lean on a few familiar shoulders. Plus, you’re guaranteed a good time when you’re around your friends! That’s why it’s OK to establish a “comfort zone” with some buddies, staying close to them for a good deal of the night.

Establish that comfort zone, but be prepared to leave it. If you’re always with your friends, new people may be intimidated to approach you. The great thing about a comfort zone is that you can leave it at any time to briefly mingle with others, and then rely on it to always be there when you come back. Being able to leave the comfort zone and in turn embrace change is a great skill to have, so consider discussing this system with your friends. Get their feedback on meeting new people at the event.

4. Circulate
You’re having a nice time with your friends, but you feel it’s time to break away from the comfort zone. So, how do you do it? The first time may be difficult. Politely excuse yourself. Get a drink of water if you’re nervous. Think back to when you observed the room for people you thought were interesting and intriguing. Eye contact and a smile is the best way to make your target feel comfortable with you. Once you’ve gotten their attention, you can approach them however you’d like! If you’re away from the music, start a casual conversation. If you’re on the dance floor, yell out a “hey!” and start dancing freely with this person and their friends. Enjoy this person’s company for a song or two, wave and depart, and then move on to someone else. If you like the person, meet up with them again during the event. You can move on to new people or return back to your comfort zone whenever you’d like.

Most people don’t know how to start a conversation or casually approach people like this. When I’m at a social event, I try not to think too much about what I’ll say or do when I see new people. I convince myself that I’m a confident, loving, attractive girl and take it from there. Quite often you’ll find that this exercise works great; if you see yourself as a confident person, you’ll realize that you ARE one, and other people will feel it. Don’t worry about how this method works or whether you’ll do it right – it works, and you WILL do it right – all you have to do is believe in it. It’s like you’re an actor playing a role; if you’re playing the part of a crazy, fun dancer who is the center of attention at this party, you should be dancing in the middle of the floor and approaching anyone (male or female) that strikes your fancy. After a short while your confidence will become contagious. People will start approaching you.
Circulating a room and having such confidence takes practice. Don’t be afraid to be the first to start dancing or mingling with people. Often times I start dancing by myself when I don’t have a partner – it is at first awkward since everyone else is dancing with their friends, but eventually someone always asks to join me! (Even when I’m by myself on the floor, I love the feeling of being free and dancing by myself; it just melts your stress away. Try it sometime!) Don’t be let down by failure, either. If someone doesn’t seem responsive to you, they may be nervous or intimidated. Try again or move on to someone else.

It’s a great idea to start attending any parties or school events that you hear about just to get some practice socializing with others. By the time you know it, you’ll be a professional, and you’ll have made many new friends.

5. Take a Break
All that being said, circulating is hard work! After you’ve spoken to a few cute strangers or danced with some new friends, reward yourself by returning to your comfort zone. You can get water at this point as well, or even go to the bathroom to freshen up. Stop by the punch bowl and say hello to a few more people, or say hello to no one at all if you’re tired. Taking a break every now and then to relax will calm your nerves and help you regain some needed energy. You don’t want to overwork yourself at this event! This is supposed to be fun.

6. Say Your Goodbyes
You’ve danced ‘til your legs ached. You were a hit at the punch bowl for small talk. Now the party’s over, and it’s time to…run out and leave? Not so fast. If you really want to leave a positive, lasting impression on your new friends, briefly approach them and let them know that it was great meeting them. Offer a hug if it’s appropriate, then bade them farewell. You’d be surprised at how important saying goodbye is! You score points for being nice enough to remember the person, and you leave the party on a good note with everyone. Don’t forget to say goodbye to your friends as well!

If it’s the opposite sex you’re saying goodbye to, and you had a great time with them, let that be known, too. You won’t sound silly or embarrassing – only sweet. Exchange numbers or emails if both of you are comfortable doing so, or simply leave them with a smile. At the least you’ll leave the event with confidence and fond memories.

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One Response to “Surviving at Mixed-Gender Social Events [Teen Article]”

  1. online games for kids
    May 27, 2009 at 2:53 am #

    For me taking a break and saying goodbyes are definitely the best part after such a long hours circulating. this article makes me really miss those high school party. =D

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