How to find cool things in a new place

A friend asked me for advice on how to find stuff that’s going on in a place. I feel a bit self-conscious positioning myself as some kind of expert here, but I do think I’ve done a good job of this in Oxford. None of this is galaxy-brain stuff, just advice that I hope might be helpful for people.

The main trick is to talk to people. This is true, and bears repeating: talk to people. It helps a lot to cultivate a relentless curiousity, and to be comfortable being out of place (or at least, to let the discomfort wash over you). It’s people who make these things happen, publicity etc is secondary.

Notice what you’re interested in, what you enjoy, and do it even if it’s kinda lame. Mention the mildly-embarrassing stuff you’re doing, early in conversation. This will help people know what to recommend to you.

There’s a saying, that if you wanna source drugs in a new place, ask your sketchiest friend who their sketchiest friend is, meet them, and repeat. This is true in general: if you wanna find a scene, talk to the people you know who are most in that direction, and ask them about their friends.

If you’re at a place and it’s good, ask the people there how they found out about it. Often, it’s word-of-mouth, but sometimes there’s a hub. In Oxford, the answer might be something like “a flier at the Magic Cafe” or “Instagram” or “Daily Info”. Check these places, see what’s there.

I don’t use dating apps any more, but some of my most important let’s-say-platonic friendships have come from that. Being bi is helpful, but whatever your situation I recommend matching/​meeting people explicitly for friendship.

Perhaps the strongest move you can make is to host something. What do you most wish existed in your area, that doesn’t seem to? If you can make this happen, maybe starting with a very small group, then good people will start to come to you. Hosting Oxford Rationalish has brought me in contact with so many people who I’d otherwise never have found.

Oh! And it’s more important to take lots of shots than to have a perfect hit rate. I really like ending up in random places that don’t make sense and that I probably wouldn’t revisit, which exposes me to more upside.

Hoping to be helpful <3

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