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The VICE Starter Pack for Dating After COVID

We’re anticipating a summer of being super safe sluts, with newfound potential for vaccinated hangs and *gasp* indoor chill seshes.
Photo: Getty Images / composite by vice staff

Like the soon-to-be Summer 2021 rager cicadas, we’re juuuust about ready to crawl out of the dirt to flirt. Only, we can’t totally remember how to date—nor can we quite imagine how to resume romantic activities in a vaccinated, post-pandemic world that we’re optimistic will come, but is still a ways off, sweet and horny friend. 

Pre-COVID-19, dating meant linking with a cutie at our local, cherished shithole for a 10 PM Miller High Life, checking out “a friend’s show,” or observing Taco Tuesday. It’s not that pandemic has totally stopped those prospects, but it’s definitely deflated a lot of them (see: no indoors, lots of snow) and made courtship really bananas. 


Some people have really savored the return of intentional “slow dating” that reigned pre-internet. But also, some people have made us want to Go Go Gadget out of our brains by chronicling TikTok-rooftop-drone-romances (60 percent cringe, 40 percent hats off to that YOLO energy). All we ask is that we don’t come away from this with some pandemic dating horror stories, and that folks keep an open mind about what kinds of relationships work best for them. IMO there is a dangerously flawed logic in default prioritizing long-term, monogamous relationships as the gold standard. Just like streaming subscriptions, not all romantic partners are meant to last forever. Which doesn’t mean they matter any less—it just means you’re looking for fulfillment outside of the ol' Nuclear Family trajectory. *Descends soapbox*

Anyway, now that people are getting juiced on that Johnson & Johnson et. al., we’re anticipating a summer of being super safe sluts, with newfound potential for vaccinated hangs and *gasp* indoor chill seshes. Thus, we’ve concocted some date ideas just for you. Some are updates and embellishments to the classics, while others are a little more left-field. All of them (IMO) are fairly realistic, because there is no way in hell we are taking Jackson/Chet/Parker from Tinder (and anyone else who might own a copy of Infinite Jest) apple-picking, or to one of those Nancy Meyers pasta-making workshops. At least, not immediately. (We do love a rom-com cooking montage.)  


Full disclosure: The following picks are very New York City-centric, as that is presently where our Hobbit hole is located. But the principles of each activity, like a quality nut butter, can be applied to every city. Goddess speed, my spring chickens. 

Keep up the picnic thing


Photo: Composite by VICE Staff

A classic for a reason. Chiefly: Not contracting COVID-19. But the art of le picnic is another tender, unexpected byproduct of the pandemic that we’d like to see continue for the sake of everyone’s health and good spirits. You can go with a classic wicker and red-checked blanket situation, but why not invest in an easy-carry, hands-free picnic backpack, an art object-level wine cooler, and blanket that says, “I’m partial to Matisse’s cut-out period?”

Destination Summer 2-Person Picnic Backpack in Black, $39.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond

The Marigny Organic Wine, $29.95 $28.95 at MYSA

Richard Carlson Vintage Travel Wine Cooler, $220 at Coming Soon 

Alisa Galitsyna Tumbleweed #2 Throw Blanket, $59.99 $47.99 at Society6

Eat a giant cannoli

Giant Cannoli

Photo: Composite by VICE Staff

Here's an idea: Buy some wumbo chianti, some luxury condoms from LELO (thee best luxury sex toy retailer), and a 10-jabroni-sized cannoli, and you've got a decadent, cream-filled date. For New Yorkers, Circo’s Bakery in Brooklyn does the deed, Manhattan’s Caffee Palermo  is the self-proclaimed Cannoli King, and so many other Italian-American bakeries across the country are just dying to pinch out these big boys. One of our favorites: Rito’s bakery in Brunswick, Ohio, who makes “an extra-large chocolate dipped cannoli shell stuffed with 36 small cannoli.” Or just get into the DIY cannoli kit thing, to show off your stuffing skills.  


Mike’s Famous Cannoli Kit from Mike’s Pastry, $50 at Goldbelly

Hex Latex Condoms (36 Pack), $34.90 $27.92 at LELO

Bellini Chianti, 3 Litre Bottle, $47.99 at Total Wine

Oversized XL Giant Wine Glass, $21.99 at Amazon

Shake up your museum circuit


Photo: Composite by VICE Staff

While we 10,000 percent recommend sweeping your date off their feet at the new T-Rex exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, it’s also nice to go to a spot that isn’t as over-run with people and tourists. Support indie museums (The City Reliquary), indoor-outdoor museums (The Noguchi Museum, The Met Cloisters), and institutions that can teach you something about local history (Museum of Chinese in America). Pull up with a Chill Person tote bag (to fill with more gift shop tote bags), a Moleskin journal for casual sketching and note-taking (hell yah, you’re that casually erudite) with an Elvira pen, and bring along an external phone charger like this one from CHAMP that lasts for three days, and can juice up your phone to 80 percent in just half-an-hour. Meaning: You can share it with your date, and gain big points. 

Good Morning Tapes Miracle Healing Power Canvas Tote, $59.41 at Garmentory

Moleskine Classic Notebook, Soft Cover, XL, $20.40 at Amazon

CHAMP Portable Charger, $49.95 at Nimble

Elvira Bondage Floaty strip and tip pen by Kreepsville, $14.54 at Amazon

Outdoor or drive-in movie


Photo: Composite by VICE Staff

One of the positive byproducts of the pandemic has been the small but mighty resurgence of the drive-in theaters (see: Skyline Drive-In in Brooklyn). Keep that energy, whether it’s at a drive-in or a park screening of a C-grade monster movie. Swaddle your lover in a Pendleton blanket (lowkey classy), offer some caramel corn (breath-scent neutral=good for making out), find some stylish mugs and Thermoses for keeping your coffee or hot toddy warm, and present a floor cushion shaped like a cracker because, duh. 


Pendleton National Park Blanket Collection, $119 at Backcountry

Carter Everywhere Mug, $35 at Verishop

Popsalot Clandestine Caramel Corn, (Set Of 12) $33.48 at Cost Plus World Market

Graham Cracker Floor Cushion, $47.81 at Etsy

At-home tostada night for that third date energy


Photo: Composite by VICE Staff

We changed our minds. We do want our own Nora Ephron cooking montage—we just don’t want the weird, Bachelor-esque pressure of simultaneously making deflated focaccia, trying to bond with our date, and dodging the energy of other pseudo-couples who might be Disney Adults or something. Plus, just imagine all the taste-testing mask slippage… just doesn’t make sense. Instead, get those rapid tests and invite them over for an easy-assemble, vegetarian taco meal kit from Goldbelly. It’s tasty, and idiot-proof—and this one is from esteemed San Francisco chef Traci Des Jardins. 

Chef Traci Des Jardins' Impossible Salpicón Tostadas Kit, $89 at Goldbelly

Just go skating, or look cute trying


Photo: Composite by VICE Staff

Grab a six-pack or one of the many booze-free beverages from the non-alcoholic spirits renaissance, and suggest pulling up to a skateable place. Offer up a medley of skate park staples, like some Dad Grass (legal bud that promises the most mellow buzz ever), and bring some Band-Aids...just in case. 

C7skates Premium Quad Roller Skate, Peachy Cream, $139 at Urban Outfitters


Dad Grass Hemp CBD Preroll 5 Pack, $35 at Dad Grass

Patch Biodegradable Natural Adhesive Bandage Strips, $6.99 at Package Free

Curious Elixir No. 1, $35 for 4 bottles (8 cocktails) at Curious Elixirs

When and if you *are* ready for that lil day/weekend trip


Photo: Composite by VICE Staff

Ah, the Big Little Trip Upstate. For New Yorkers, it’s one of the obligatory benchmark moments of testing the “next step” energy of a dating situation, and while the specific destination may vary, the scenario is familiar to horny peeps across America. At this point, you both dig one another’s vibe enough to sit in a car or on a train together for three hours. Yes, this is certainly our most ambitious Hot Date, as it hinges on everybody being vaccinated and reeeeallly damn cautious. But once you’re both juiced up, why not plan a little getaway to a kitsch roadside hotel? Get a choice disposable camera with retro filters (but not in a 2013 Instagram filter way), some swank toiletries (they’ll be impressed), and, for the love of Michael Shannon, some earplugs, in case they snore. 

Lomography Simple Use Reloadable Camera, Color Negative 400 Film, $26.90 at Amazon

Aesop Departure Travel Kit, $52 at AESOP

Howard Leight by Honeywell Max Lite Low Pressure Disposable Foam Earplugs, $5.79 at Amazon

Go dumpster diving


Photo: Composite by VICE Staff

You can tell a lot about a person based on not only their local consumption habits, but whether or not they tie in those habits (or not) with community involvement. (And, of course, it’s never too late to start.) While we don’t recommend propping one of your first dates on an organized social justice event (don’t be cringe;  in that scenario, your energy should be on the task at hand, not your romantic plans), why not learn the ins-and-outs of dumpster diving on your own time? Dance with the midnight rats! Tango across cursed pizza boxes! Then, once you’ve found your good (and safe) grub, look up and see if there are any free/community food fridges in your area upon which you can bestow your booty. Also: Be sure to date the food with a Sharpie, list any ingredients that may cause allergies, and communicate with the fridge tenders in general if you have any questions about drop-off guidelines. This is also a great excuse to buy one of the best headlamps on the market for half-off (always good to have around), some sturdy overalls, and a Snake Plisken t-shirt. You will never turn a stronger look.  


Escape From New York Recon Collage Black Shirt, $19.55 at Etsy

Carhartt Men's Relaxed Fit Duck Bib Overall, $79.99 at Tractor Supply

Stalwart 7 LED Headlamp, $19.99 $9.62 at Wayfair

Nitrile-Coated Chemical Resistant Gloves, $12.25 at Home Depot

If the vibe sucks, sail away on this blow-up cassette 


Photo: Amazon

Make like Enya on this six foot deck, and GTFO 

LÔTELI Classic Cassette Tape Pool Float, $49.99 at Amazon

Good luck out there, and don’t forget the Purell. 

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