‘Tis the season of long johns as lingerie, when hunkering inside with your honey and watching five straight episodes of Making a Murderer is the definition of a hot date. Of course there’s nothing wrong with blanket forts, and no one can deny the pleasures of hot chocolate in front of the fireplace. But if your romance is going to keep sizzling through the longest, coldest months, it’s important to break out of hibernation every once in awhile and have a little fun despite the deep freeze.
Worry not! Despite the hostile temperatures and soul-sapping darkness, there’s no shortage of things that will get you out of the house and maybe even warm the cockles of your cold, cold heart.
The Sunday Ski:
Breakfast at the Dancing Moose
Ski out on Yellowknife Bay
Après-ski at the Woodyard
This is the ideal date for that deceivingly sunny Sunday when the thermostat clocks a balmy -25. Head on down to the Dancing Moose for an eggs benny, then throw on your skis for a glide around Yellowknife Bay – over to Dettah if you’re feeling vigorous, or out around Joliffe Island if you want a more gentle afternoon. At the end of the adventure, you can pretty much ski right to the door of the Woodyard brewpub, which has a convenient ski rack right outside. The rustic atmosphere and best beer selection in town makes for the ideal place to toast each other’s adventurousness and smugly sing the praises of Northern Living.
1) Don’t dress to impress. Dress to survive. Go for warmth (layers, layers, layers) and don’t forget a neck warmer you can pull up over your nose. Having to cut your skiing short to prevent your schnozz falling off isn’t ideal… (unless you can parlay your incipient frostbite into a warm shower together before heading back out to the brewpub, smooth operator. In which case: why are you even reading this guide? You don’t need a guide!)
2) If he or she or they stayed over the night before, you can always skip the Dancing Moose and start your day together with an omelet at home. If it’s early in the relationship and you’re looking to impress, make sure you check out some semi-fancy recipes online beforehand. Don’t get fancy though, or you’ll risk setting the bar way too high. You’re playing the long game here. Unless you aren’t.
3) If you ski competently but your partner doesn’t, you may want to swap out the active part of this date for a more leisurely snowshoe or a skate. Remember: conversation is the key, and zipping far ahead is a surefire way to reveal your athleticism while also making it clear you are a bit of a jerk.
The Classy Night Out:
A show at NACC
Thornton’s for wine and cheese
If you and your pal are feeling the need to “get cultured” (or you’re trying to impress a high-level GNWT bureaucrat) this is an ideal way to spend a fancy-times weekday evening. NACC has some great shows coming up over the next couple of months, and Thornton’s, arguably the classiest joint in town, is just a short walk away. This will be far from the cheapest date you’ve been on in Yellowknife, but it’s a good way to spice up a long-term relationship, or make a strong romantic impression on a new partner. Just remember, this is also potentially setting the bar pretty high. Sure you can keep this up? Spring is a long way away.
1) Dress up. A night at the theatre followed by a flight of wine is the perfect chance to bring out that buried sports jacket or cocktail dress, something that doesn’t happen too often in town. Sure you’ll have to put your parka on over top of your ensemble, and you may waddle just a bit on your way to the taxi in your ski pants, but you’ll look and feel great once you’re inside – a perfect way to remind a long-time partner that they’re not doomed to sweatpants, scrunchies or game jerseys forever, and a chance to show a new partner how well you “clean up.”
2) Avoid the ‘I’ve-seen-better-in-Toronto’ thing. Yes, theatre, dance, you-name-it, options in the big city are of a different calibre. But for an institution in a remote city our size, NACC does a more-than-commendable job of bringing in acts and providing space for local talent. Celebrating local culture is attractive; bitching about YK not being Toronto or Vancouver or Montreal just makes you a grouch who likes to state the obvious.
3) A note on wine: there’s a fine line to walk between being informed and being a pretentious bore. Make sure you know the difference between a Merlot and a Pinot Noir, sure, fine. But no one wants to hear a monologue about bouquet and mouthfeel and your trip to the Cotes du Rhone in ‘12. Ugh. Shut up.
“Why, you’re right! This is an insouciant little Voignier!”
The Play Date:
Pool or Darts at After 8
For those who like a little competition, head to Kingpin Bowling for five-pin fun. Don’t worry if you can’t play: even bad bowling is fun bowling, and folks rarely, very rarely, fly straight in the air towards the pins à la Fred Flintstone. Afterwards, pop over to After 8 for a game of pool or darts. This is a great early relationship date – there’s lots of time to talk and get to know each other, but also plenty to do if you run into patches of awkward silence. It’s also a good way to show you’re a fun person to spend time with. Because you are. So. Much. Fun.
1) Remember there’s a black light in the bowling alley, so you might want to avoid dark clothing. Nothing spoils game like your tee shirt’s dandruff coating on full display.
2) Take a cab from bowling to After 8. Chances are you’ll have a couple of drinks while playing pool, and you don’t want to have to leave your car in the After 8 parking lot.
3) If you’re playing pool, avoid the classic “I’ll teach you to play pool” reach-around. Surely there are less cliché ways to get up close and personal. If you’re dead set on making the move, at least do so with some self-awareness and use the opportunity to share a laugh at what a creep you are pretending to be.
The Animal Lover Date:
A hike on Tin Can Hill or Ranney Hill
Warm up by the fire
This one is for animal lovers, or those trying to woo animal lovers. Head out to the SPCA and sign out a dog to walk for the day. Everybody, including the pooch, wins. If you want to stay in town, Tin Can Hill has gorgeous trails and beautiful views over the lake. The trails are well-trodden, so you don’t have to worry about your boots filling with snow. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, head out to Ranney Hill on the Vee Lake access road. Only 15 minutes out of town, this gem is a several-kilometer hike with the best view back over Yellowknife you’ll find anywhere. Take the pup back to the SPCA, and head home to warm up by the fire with a glass of wine or a rum and eggnog. Or tea. Tea is fine too.
1) Make sure you call ahead to the SPCA to ensure there are dogs to walk. It can get busy, especially on the weekends.
2) If you’re worried about the backseat of your car being covered in dog hair, bring an old blanket, or a rarely used cocktail dress. And don’t complain when the dog drools all over your shoulder; it’s a situation better met with a good laugh then a grumpy bark in Lassie’s direction. Remember: you are a good person.
3) If you’re heading out to Ranney Hill, keep your eyes peeled for a small path on left side of the road just before the Vee Lake parking lot. It can be hard to find your first time, but there are usually cars parked along the side of the road there on weekends. And if you get to the parking lot, just turn around and head about 200 metres back up the road. Maybe go scout this on your own first so you don’t spend half an hour going back and forth while your date slowly and politely freezes.