Tips on Breaking the Ice (and Partying in London)

bigchill

Four days ago, my friend Lonnie (who I’m currently backpacking across Europe with) and I went to a bar in London, called Bar Kick, to watch the FA Cup Final.

The game started at 5:00 pm, so we got to the bar at around 4:00 pm.

We found this specific bar on Yelp. It’s supposedly known for being one of the best bars in London for watching soccer and for meeting other young people.

When we got there, the place was packed. We had to squeeze our way to the bar to order a drink. We ordered some Mojitos, and then squeezed our way to the only open space in the back corner of the bar.

“Alright, now what?”

We made our way to the other side of the bar, hoping some one would start talking to us, but everyone was already engaged in their own conversations. So we awkwardly floated around from one corner to another corner.

Eventually we saw an open foosball table, so we decided to play a game. That was fun and distracted us from talking to new people for about 10 minutes.

But then we were back to square one. Just the two of us, standing by ourselves, amidst hundreds of people crammed into a tiny bar.

Finally, we decided to go outside.

Lonnie started telling me how hard it is to just jump into a conversation when people are talking in big groups. I agreed. It’s difficult to break the ice.

But then, about a half second later, I noticed that there was a group of three British guys about our age sitting against the wall in front of us. Another one of their friends came out, handed a drink to one of the guys who was sitting against the wall and spilled some of the drink in the process. The guy jokingly cursed at his friend for being so clumsy. Then, he took a sip of the drink, and said “Damn, that’s good.”

I was curious what kind of drink it was and at that moment I saw an opportunity to break the ice, so I jumped in…

“What kind of drink is that?”

Fast forward four hours—Lonnie and I are at another bar, called Big Chill (which ended being our favorite bar for the rest of our stay in London), with these same guys, and 20 more of their friends. We were rolling deep.

For the rest of the night, they took us from bar to bar, buying us drinks all along the way, and eventually we ended up at a sweet little bar club called 93 Feet East.

Like my friend Lonnie said to me at one point during the night, I haven’t had that many people buy me drinks since my birthday.

It was an awesome night, to say the least. And it all started with a simple question about a drink. To be honest, I still don’t even know what the drink was, but it was good. And more importantly, it broke the ice.

Just Say Something

Breaking the ice isn’t as hard as we make it out to be.

We often spend too much time worrying about what to say, and then we end up not saying anything at all.

At the end of the day, it usually doesn’t really matter what you say, all that matters is that you say something.

I’m not the most social person in the world, but over the years I’ve learned a couple tricks that have made it a lot easier for me to meet new people.

Here are a couple tips for getting past that initial awkward moment and breaking the ice as gently as possible:

  • When people are in a group, pay attention to the way their feet are pointing. If they’re pointing inward, that’s generally a sign that they’re having an intimate conversation and you shouldn’t interrupt them. If their feet are pointing outward, that generally means that they’re open to meeting new people, so go ahead and join the conversation.
  • Ask a question. This is always the easiest way for me to jump into a conversation. Casually pay attention to what they’re talking about (if their feet are pointing outward), and then jump in as soon as you have a question. Here are some other lines you can use to start a conversation (warning for those reading from work: the header of this post is a picture of a smoking hot girl. No nudity, but just a heads up in case you’re in a professional setting!).
  • Assume that you’re doing them a favor by talking to them. Assume that they want to talk to you. And if they don’t, don’t take it personally. They’re probably just in a bad mood, or they just suck. Don’t worry about it. Someone else will want to talk to you.
  • Don’t spend too much time thinking about what to say. You’ll over think it. As soon as you hear an opportunity to jump in, or ask a question, just do it. Once you’ve started the conversation, it’s easy to keep the flow. The hardest part is always starting.

That’s all I can think of right now.

I’m currently in Barcelona, and I have some sangrias waiting for me, so it’s time for me to go. Stay tuned for more updates.

About Stefano

Stefano Ganddini

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  • Ken

    This is a great story. I struggle with this from time to time and find it hard to branch out from my already tight group of friends. It always feels as though there is so much at stake when trying to figure out what to say, but your right. The truth is, nobody cares what you say during a first impression (in an informal setting that is). When networking in college, it felt as though my career was riding on a single ice-breaker. Totally ridiculous, right?

    Great post, Stefano! I look forward to hearing more about the trip.

    -Ken

    P.S. By the way, thanks a lot for linking to an article with a big picture of a smoking hot girl. I am reading this post in my cubical at work and it nearly gave me a heart-attack haha.

  • Steve

    It was really funny reading this because I’ve told myself “It doesn’t matter what you say, it matters that you say something” before, which is almost verbatim what you said here. That’s awesome. Glad to see you’re having a good time, Stefano!