It's February and love is in the air...Wait, is that love? Oh riiiight, no. It's just the disgruntled sighs of our fellow Denverites lamenting a lack thereof.
We thought our friends, colleagues, familyheck, that chatty barista at Starbuckswere being a little melodramatic with their tales of romantic mishaps and ceaseless dating rants; after all, when we looked at the lovescape two years ago, Denver had been the number one city for singles for three years running, according to Forbes magazine.
Today you'll find us crawling in at number 11. In just two years, Denver's dating allure has plummeted. Where did we go wrong? The most common response: "It's just hard to meet people." Hmm, sorry, not buying it. Online dating technology, virtually free from the stigma it carried in its early stages, can get you thousands of available local singles at the click of a mouse (for better or worsesee page 55). Not into cyber introductions? The metro area has so many social networking and interest groups that we can't begin to name them all (though we share our favorites, also on page 55). Suffice it to say, there's no shortage of opportunity if you're the least bit proactive.
It's more about giving yourself the best possible odds to take it from "we met" to "in a relationship." That means avoiding the pitfalls along the way. With intel from our expertspsychologists, dating coaches, and authors (not to mention our own woebegone cohorts at the end of their single ropes)we present in the following pages the most common roadblocks en route to love in the Mile-High City. Read them closely, and navigate wisely from here on.
Oh, and if you need a little inspiration, feast your eyes on 24 of Denver's top singles as you browse the next few pages. For more than three months, we searched for the city's most eligible, amazing catches, and this hand-selected list is the finest Denver has to offer.
1. Sean Swarner, 34
Mountaineer; Cofounder, CancerClimber Association; Motivational Speaker; Author
Best date spot: Someplace in the mountains that no one knows about. I'm a sucker for: Adventure. Rainy-day activity: Puddle splashing. Secret talent: I can ride a unicycle and juggle at the same time. Nickname: Nature Boy. iPod embarrassment: The soundtrack to Grease. Biggest accomplishment: Surviving two life-threatening bouts of cancer and—with only partial use of my lungs—being the first cancer survivor to summit Mt. Everest.
2. Norm Early, 63
Attorney (Denver's former district attorney); Entrepreneur
Find me here on the weekends: At one of my son's games. Fantasy vacation: Ten days, and there absolutely must be a golf course. A beach nearby doesn't hurt. You'd never guess: I've never used an ATM. Biggest fear: That I'll never break 80 again in golf. When I'm not working: I auctioneer for charities, but I don't charge a fee; it's my attempt to invest back in the community. Biggest influence: My children. They have a refreshing ability to keep you real and to keep things in perspective for you.
3. Daniel Gonzales, 28
Architect; Gay activist; Aspiring ski bum
I'm so over: Guys who get drunk on a date. Rainy-day activity: Cooking Thai food. Some of the Asian food markets on Federal are amazing. Part of my charm: When I'm brushing my teeth, I tend to wander around the house. Celeb crush: Justin Timberlake. My mom really does not see the appeal, but that's her problem. Last book I read: When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris.
4. David Singer, 27
Math teacher, Manual High School; Regional Director, Children's Technology Workshop
Best date spot: Nine75 for dinner, D Bar for dessert, Dazzle for live jazz. I'm a sucker for: Hair up and backless dresses. And babies. I'm so over: Name-droppers, LoDo. Rainy-day activity: Writing at St. Mark's Coffeehouse (I have a blog about education); renting a movie and ordering Pete's Chinese. iPod embarrassment: Ricky Martin. On the bucket list: Open an ECE-8th grade school.
5. Laurence Curry, 33
Professional actor/dancer; Teaching artist, DCPA
Great night out: Dinner and a show. Or Elitch's—we have to be adults all day long; it's nice to go someplace and play. I'm so over: Stereotypes. Find me here on a Friday: Salsa class at the Streetside Studios. Nickname: El Boogie. Part of my charm: No matter what venue I'm in, I have to be able to see an exit. Looking for: Someone with a playful spirit who's comfortable in her body and passionate about a physical activity. On the bucket list: Do a film with Denzel Washington.
6. Aaron Forman, 34
Restaurateur/Sommelier; Owner, Table 6 Best local date spot: Thin Man, Il Posto, Fruition, Twelve, Frasca. I'm a sucker for: Bravo's reality TV. Deal-breaker: Uptightness. Rainy-day activity: On the couch watching sports. Secret hobby: Buying too much wine and collecting crazy sport coats. Biggest accomplishment: Dog-sledding the last 400 miles of the Iditarod Trail in Alaska. On the bucket list: Own a boutique hotel in South America.
1. Lauren Y. Casteel, 55
VP/Philanthropic Executive, Denver Foundation
Weekend whereabouts: At a friend's ranch off of Kenosha Pass. Once-in-a-lifetime moment: Being at Invesco watching Obama during his DNC speech, knowing I was part of something so important. Part of my charm: I miss the art of letter writing. I'm a little techno-challenged. Deal-breaker: Intolerance of other cultures or life circumstances, elitism in any form, or someone who needs me to love everything they love. Favorite books: Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies. Biggest influence: My mom and dad—he was a national civil rights leader. My children have also been my greatest teachers.
2. Gina Comminello, 49
Professional makeup guru; Co-owner of the Look Beauty Boutique
I'm a sucker for: A strong nose and great smile. Deal-breaker: Socks and sandals, bad hygiene, emotionally devoid people. Rainy-day activity: Denver Art Museum, taking a bubble bath, drawing, or painting. You'd never guess: I like to camp and fly-fish. Nickname: G-Girl. Celeb crush: Richard Gere and Matt Lauer. Anyone that looks kind of like a koala bear. Biggest accomplishment: I've raised two beautiful boys; I also took a huge chance in leaving Chanel and Dior to open my own cosmetics company.
3. Marti Awad, 41
VP, Merrill Lynch
Weekend whereabouts: With my nieces and nephews, hiking in Morrison, hanging with friends on a bike ride or at dinner. You'd never guess: I hate chocolate but could eat a whole bag of salt-and-vinegar potato chips in one sitting. Part of my charm: I love a good debate, especially one I can win. Nickname: Smarti. Deal-breaker: Negativity. Biggest accomplishment: Getting my master's in law and taxation. On the bucket list: At least a month of philanthro-tourism overseas.
4. Frances Owens, 55
Executive VP for Community Affairs, Galloway Group
Great night out: Romantic dinner—Campo de Fiori has a great atmosphere—live music, dancing. I'm so over: Men who only want to date women who are 20 or 30 years younger than them. Rainy-day activity: A romantic comedy with lots of popcorn and diet Dr. Pepper. Secret hobby: Decorating, quilting, painting, sewing, photography. Nickname: My kids all call me Mamacita. I'm looking for: I want to be somebody's passion. You'd never guess: I'm kind of a homebody. On the bucket list: Cross-country road trip; own a seasonal shop.
5. Elbra Wedgeworth, 53
Chief Government and Community Affairs Officer, Denver Health; President and Chair of the Board, Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee
Great night out: Sharing a wonderful Chardonnay and talking about anything and everything. Best date spot:. M&D's Cafe in my east Denver Whittier neighborhood. I'm a sucker for: An old-fashioned kind of guy who brings you flowers, pays for dinner, and opens the car door. Weekend whereabouts: Home—it's my sanctuary. Secret hobby: I collect African-American memorabilia, especially politically themed. On the bucket list: Elect the first African-American president of the United States—accomplished!
6. Hilary Martin, 38
Great night out: Biking to downtown Boulder, happy hour on a roof deck, hitting the Boulder Outdoor Cinema, eating gelato. Once-in-a-lifetime moment: Rafting class V rapids in the Ugandan Nile. Fantasy vacation: Nepal like a local: white-water rafting, elephant-back safari, paragliding, trekking the Annapurna. You'd never guess: I was interviewed for the second season of Survivor. Part of my charm: I come with dog hair. My Lab has thyroid problems. I always want to Flowbee him. Confession: I went to an NKOTB concert last weekend. iPod embarrassment: "MMMBop" by Hanson. On the bucket list: Attend the Olympics.
1. Jane Slater, 28
ABC 7News Reporter
Great night out: Sporting events—Nuggets, Avs, Rockies—then dinner. I'm a sucker for: Southern gentlemen. I'm so over: Overblown egos, people who honk their horns, those who expect handouts. Weekend whereabouts: Biking to Riverfront Park, sprawling on a hill reading a book. Part of my charm: I never take "no" for an answer. You'd never guess: I was married at 25. Though the marriage ended, I haven't lost faith in the fairy tale. On the bucket list: Being a military and White House correspondent.
2. Esther Kang, 34
Owner, MIGHTYkarma Advertising & Design Shop
I'm a sucker for: Brooding, unnecessarily moody, and deep artist-types. Fantasy vacation: Road trip to Woodstock 1969 (it's fantasy—we can go back in time, right?). Secret talent: I have quite a bit of dexterity with my toes—I can pick things up. You'd never guess: I was captain of my high school lacrosse team. Nickname: Lil' Monsta. Childhood crush: The Fonz. Guilty pleasure: Cornucopia (the mini corn dogs) at My Brother's Bar. On the bucket list: Deejay my 100th birthday party.
3. Jill Hodges, 32
Graphic designer, TV host for New Media's Shoetube.TV
I'm a sucker for: Quick wit. Someone who cracks me up in the first five minutes. I'm so over: Loud gum-chewers. Weekend whereabouts: Walking or running at a park, or at Meininger getting inspired. Rainy-day activity: A good nap and a snuggle; cooking butternut squash soup. Fantasy vacation: The Mediterranean coast, trying the wines, smelling the herbs, tasting the local delicacies. You'd never guess: I've learned how to dirt bike. It's such a rush. Childhood crush: Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles.
4. Megan Hudacky, 29
Interior Architect; Owner, CKY Design
Great night out: Gallery opening, then Lola. I'm a sucker for their guacamole. Weekend whereabouts: Tattered Cover, stealing recipes from Bobby Flay's books. Celeb crush: Matt Damon, with his Boston accent in Good Will Hunting. Biggest fear: Looking back and saying "I wish I would have...." And breaking my ankle snowboarding again. Biggest accomplishment: Starting my own company, and chairing the Design After Dark event at the DAM. On the bucket list: Building my own house.
5. Nancy Nally, 28
Member Services Manager, High Country Club
Great date: Sushi and a bottle of wine at Hapa in Cherry Creek, or brunch at Steuben's. I'm so over: Clingy-ness. I can't be smothered. Weekend whereabouts: Running along the Platte, kickball at Wash Park, or out with the girls in LoDo—try Maloney's. Secret talent: The worm dance-move! Once-in-a-lifetime moment: Sipping champagne with Big Papi and the Red Sox at the VIP party after they won the World Series here in Denver. On the bucket list: Meeting Bruce Springsteen. Let's face it, he's the Boss.
6. Jenny Starkey, 26
Events manager/PR, Engineers Without Borders-USA
Best date spot: Buenos Aires Grill—some nights they have flamenco dancers and guitarists. Or Comedy Works, to lighten the mood. I'm a sucker for: Ski bums. Fantasy vacation: Exploring Patagonia or kayaking the fjords of Norway. Book I'm reading: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Celeb crush: Jordan Knight. iPod embarrassment: "Gimme More" by Britney Spears. On the bucket list: Going to Buenos Aires and learning the tango.
1. Stephen Keel, 25
Colorado Rapids defender
I'm so over: Those boots with the fur. Rainy-day activity: Working out or playing with my two rock-star bulldogs. Secret talent: I'm great at managing my fantasy football team. You'd never guess: I don't eat vegetables. And I make my bed every day. Part of my charm: Rocking my three-quarter-length pants. People think they're capris, but they're not as long. Deep down, people love them. Guilty pleasure: Ice cream with sprinkles, Oreo Blizzards, milk shakes, and apple pie.
2. Mike Sukle, 46
Creative Director/Owner, Sukle Advertising + Design
I'm a sucker for: Someone who laughs at my jokes. Weekend whereabouts: Home Depot, or home taking care of my boys (6 and 10). Secret hobby: I work in the garden. Just wish I had a green thumb. Fantasy vacation: Southeast Asia, trekking or canoeing down a river. Part of my charm: Sappy movies make me cry. Book I'm reading: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Lifetime wish: Getting to play quarterback for one down in the NFL. Biggest fear: Doing this interview.
3. Wojtek Wolski, 23
Colorado Avalanche forward
I'm a sucker for: Girls in sweatpants. Fantasy vacation: Safari in Africa. Secret talent: I'm handy around the house. Nickname: Wolfie. Guilty pleasure: Gummi Bears. You'd never guess: I like to dance. On the bucket list: Having a family.
4. Eric Trujillo, 43
Creative Director/Owner, Studio Trujillo; traveling art show curator
Great night out: Table 6, Don's Mixed Drinks, midnight movie at the Esquire. I'm a sucker for: Romance. Deal-breaker: Pessimism. Weekend whereabouts: Cheesman Park, running with my dog. Rainy-day activity: Indoors watching classic movies—anything Hitchcock. Fantasy vacation: Diving and snorkeling the cenotes of Yucatán, hiking the ruins. Secret hobby: I collect antique, nostalgic furniture. Last book I read: The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman.
5. Ted Crawford, 56
Web/graphic designer; part-time Moab mountain bike patrolman/tour guide
Great night out: A picnic at Red Rocks with the top down at moonlight. Deal-breaker: A workaholic. Secret talent: I've won an award for my margaritas. And I hold the state record in Utah for the 100-yard dash. Part of my charm: I always put both seats down. Celeb crush: Hayley Mills. Last book I read: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Confession: I do chores during football. I iron clothes and do the laundry. Biggest fear: Karaoke.
6. Waylon Lewis, 34
Editor-in-Chief, Elephantjournal.com; online video talk-show host; Columnist, the Huffington Post
Great night out: A Cheers bar where everybody knows your name. You'd never guess: I fully intend on running for Boulder City Council in a year. Deal-breaker: Someone who's genuinely not interested in living an environmentally responsible life. Heroes: Chögyam Trungpa, widely credited with bringing the Tibetan Buddhism culture to the United States. And Dave Winfield of the Yankees.