Writer Tafisha Edwards’ second summer dating column is served. Whether you’re dating anew or trying to keep love alive, don’t miss her on-point advice for stoking romance, Baltimore-style. SWACK, the eds.

An update: the lovely woman from Adam’s Morgan and I did not transcend the I-95 divide. One of those “if only we lived closers.”  

One of the most exciting parts of our lightning fast “getting to know you” was sharing my fairly newfound experience of Baltimore. 

As a commuter student to the University of Baltimore from Laurel in 2018, all of my Baltimore friends (and even the most casual acquaintances) were eager to share their wealth of city gems with me. Happy hours with the strongest cocktails. Where to buy cheap gas. How to get to Camden Yards on foot, bike, and train. The best farmers’ markets. Drag brunches. Bookstores and artist spaces. And of course, Christmas Village. 

In February 2020, a month before my move to Bmore, I compiled all those recommendations into a list. I was 10 apartments deep in my search and frustrated. Nothing was right. And I was buckling under the self-induced pressure: I needed to find the perfect space for me so that, eventually, I could invite a boo over.

It was naïve to move to Baltimore expecting to meet and date substantively, independently of one deadly worldwide event. Every apartment I visited, I asked myself if this was the space where I could work, write, and most importantly, love. Would the window bring enough sunlight for slow gazing? Would the shower prove large enough for two? Could that plaster on the ceiling be patched before I brought another into the space? I visited about 20 apartments in a three-month span, each time evaluating the space as if already involved with someone special. I fell into the trap of believing that as soon as my new lease was signed, I would emerge onto my new street and find myself spoiled with choice. The heavy lifting of dating and dating some more would be over. 

It had barely begun.

April 2020: I barely left the house. May 2020: I was invited to a wedding and essentially had a meltdown from fears of either contracting or infecting the beautiful couple. June 2020: I fell into despair, and in September 2020, I adopted a cat from the Baltimore Humane Society. The “X” factor for my move not only dissolved, I was sure I had made a mistake moving to a city I barely knew, only to be confined to the house. Well, not confined. I spent days in Wyman and Patterson Parks. Walked the block of Charles Village where I had found the perfect apartment.

After I was vaccinated the third time, although the pandemic was not (IS not) over, I decided the risks of contracting the virus were worth the opportunity to revisit the original reason for my move: to experience Baltimore as an adult woman. And after I contacted COVID-19 in 2021, and felt the absolute weight of my mortality, I vowed I would get out more. Masked, hand sanitizer on deck.

I spent the subsequent two years learning where one could kiss on a blue-soaked dance floor (shoutout to The Royal Blue). Or where to park when you’re running late for a date in Fells Point, wearing the wrong shoes (you’re not, so take an Uber). After a spring and summer full of romance— strolls around the block, Inner Harbor dining, and of course, Barbie tickets—here are some ideas for your next (or maybe first) summer date:

For the Picnic Lovers/Romantics

The most crucial component of this date is heavy rain. But you can’t get drenched. 

I went on a wonderful date with a woman with beautiful cheekbones in Wyman Park on the Fourth of July. I’ve been on some “picnics” before— last-minute realizations that we could eat outside or walk through a park while eating—but not like this. First of all: we had a mini-grill. charcoal, wood and fire starter, and everything. Second: we had a dog. We were anxious about the rain, whether it would roll over the city and depart. Around 5 or so, we were between showers. To a certain kind of person (me), preparation is alluring. As the color of the smoke changed from blue to white, and we drank our cocktails, the trees whispered. The wind picked up and it started to pour. 

Dating is about perseverance. I knew the odds of us getting caught in the rain were high. When the sky started leaking, my date asked me if we should leave. Absolutely not. I had spent two hours getting ready for this moment knowing the outcome. I’d waterproofed my make-up, made sure my shirt would be even more flattering wet, the same with my hair. And she worked hard, too. So, we covered our food and stood in the tree line. 

We watched couples dart through the park, teasing in the rain. The harder it poured the stiffer my resolve: we weren’t leaving. So, the blanket was a casualty. I think we lost a drink. But when the clouds split open, she turned to me, her cheeks shiny with rain. What’s a little water in exchange for a smile like that?

For the curious: we had grilled salmon, vegetables, mangoes, and strawberries.

For the Prince Lovers 

Let’s say you and your favorite Prince Lover/Concert Connoisseur are planning your next date. And for whatever reason you can’t find a show—maybe the tickets to Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour are too pricey (they are, but then again…it’s Beyonce). Maybe you missed The Isley Brothers at AFRAM and Victoria Monet’s The Jaguar Tour is sold out.

Well, you’re in luck. Ten years after Prince released his critically acclaimed double album, Sign o’ the Times, his Jam of The Year Tour brought him to the Baltimore Arena on September 21st, 1997. Fourteen thousand Little Red Corvette drivers, Erotic City dwellers, Insatiable, Scandalous, Sexy M.F.’s filled the arena. The footage is grainy, but Prince is eternal. Turn off the lights, turn up the volume, and wrap yourselves up in each other and the music.

For The Glamorous 

Bloom’s, located in the Hotel Ulysses in Mt. Vernon, is art-deco chic and electric pink. A bar right out of a well-designed movie—be it crime drama or comedy. No reservations (at least the last I was there), so it’ll really come down to timing. This is a cocktail bar in the truest sense (as in cocktails only), so if you’re looking to extend a date that is going well, or start the night with champagne (they have that, too), this is an option.

I celebrated my 32nd birthday at Bloom. I wanted to drink lavishly, dress lavishly, and have all guests do the same—no fun when you’re dressed up alone. It’s a sensual space, complete with flirtatious matchbooks and cards (a discreet invitation to a room). I’m a person who loves to kiss in public spaces and also loves taking pictures—rest assured, the ambiance supports both.

Bon Voyage!

Tafisha A. Edwards a poet, cultural critic, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore. Her writings have been published in The VoltaVICETidalCosmopolitanSundress Publications’ Lyric Essentials and other publications. She is the author of two chapbooks, In the Belly of the Mirror and The Bloodlet. She is the recipient of a 2022 Independent Artist Regional Award from the Maryland State Arts Council, and a 2021 Rubys Artist Grant from the Robert Deutsch Foundation. Her poetry has appeared in The Georgia Review, Apogee JournalPoetry NorthwestWashington Square ReviewWinter Tangerine and other print and online publications.

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