A Guide to Going Out for Introverts
If going out as an introvert usually harshes your mellow, check out these relaxed activities that won’t sap your energy, introspection or creativity
If you’re an introvert, going out can be a pain. Restaurants and bars are extraordinarily loud these days, and you can find yourself shouting over the din just to place an order. Sometimes, you’re reading a book at a delicious beer bar and someone strikes up a conversation with you when, no matter how friendly they might be, you just want to drink your refreshing Mexican-style lager and dig into that story of that woman who hiked the PCT on a whim or that man who wandered off into the wilds of Alaska. What’s an introvert who loves going out to do?
Book lovers in San Francisco figured out that if they filled a space with fellow introverts, no one would disturb each other because everyone was quietly and happily engaged in friendly parallel play. That’s how the Silent Book Club, or “Introvert Happy Hour,” was born. Inspired by their quiet fellowship, we created this guide to help you find your fellow introverts, or at least a few peaceful spots where you can be alone with your thoughts.
Walk a Labyrinth and Bathe Yourself in Sound
Do a twenty-minute sound bath, walk the marble labyrinth, or simply observe the koi in their pond at the Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens in West Adams, Los Angeles. Visitors have to make an appointment every time they come, so it’s never full of last-minute crowds. Plus, it’s a bit out of the way for most Los Angeles tourists. Those factors plus the garden itself make it an introvert’s paradise, with plenty of spaces to stop and sketch, journal, or daydream. If you’re in San Francisco, visit Grace Cathedral to walk their labyrinth or do a sound bath.
If you’ve never floated in a sensory deprivation tank, know that this isn’t a trend that’s going away; it’s a lifestyle. Here’s the deal: you enter a small room with a shallow amount of saltwater, and you lie down and float. In many flotation tanks, you can choose to close or open the door, to turn the light off or keep it on. Some tanks have little floats for you to use to be more easily buoyant. Whether you choose to float every week or only on special occasions, the feeling of weightlessness is wonderfully relaxing, and there are research-proven health benefits. Check out Portland’s Everett House, L.A.’s Just Float, San Francisco’s Reboot Spa, Tucson’s Levity, Albuquerque’s True Rest, and Seattle’s Float.
Turn Down and Tune In
Being able to hear some good music might seem like something you can only do at home in this era of loud restaurants and bars. But “slow listening” Japanese-style hi-fi lounges and listening parties are a growing movement for those who want to turn the audience volume down and the music volume up. Bars like Gold Line in L.A.’s Highland Park can get loud on Saturday nights, but the audiophile crowd turns out every day to listen to owner Peanut Butter Wolf’s 8,000-record collection (there are no iPhones with Spotify plugged in here). At DTLA hi-fi record bar In Sheep’s Clothing, which hosts events where the attendees listen to an entire album without saying a word, a placard forbids Instagram activity: “To hear more, say less.” In the SF Bay Area, Oakland’s Bar Shiru offers a hi-fi vinyl listening experience in a space whose acoustics were mindfull designed to suit. If you really want to tune other folks out, put on your headphones and work it out at a silent disco party.
Dine in Peace
From low-decibel restaurants to iPad-based ordering, it’s becoming easier to dine in peace. Besides all the fast-food spots taking advantage of the iPad trend, there are a couple fast-casual restaurants harnessing it too. Pay a visit to Eatsa, an automat of sorts with locations in both Northern and Southern California, where you order on an iPad and remove your food from a glass compartment, or Tatsu, an L.A. restaurant where you order at an iPad before even being seated.
Watch a New Film at an Old Theater
There’s just one large theater at the 1923 vintage movie palace The Vista, but it’s got it all: cheap, delicious popcorn with real butter, double the legroom, and super respectful cinephile audiences. Admire the gold Egyptian busts and dramatic red curtains that unveil the screen at showtime; then, settle down for an immersive experience with excellent picture and sound. If you want a low likelihood of running into anyone you know, head to nearby sibling venue Los Feliz 3‘s smallest theater, which has just 55 seats. Better yet, rent the entire room and bring only the friends you know will stay quiet for the whole film.
Warm Up in a Solo Sauna
Sweatheory in Los Angeles offers private infrared saunas for one. Sweat solo for an hour to your heart’s content (for a very reasonable price!) and then shower with luxe organic products. If you’re feeling deep afterward, you can even get an angel card reading or a crystal and reiki healing. If you’re in Portland, head an hour east to Carson Hot Springs for a private soak and wool wrap. You soak in the hot springs and then get tightly swaddled in a gravity blanket, then you just lie there in silence looking at the woods—yup, that’s it. Heaven, right? You’ll be refreshed, body and mind, and ready to face the world again.
Spy Some Birds
We’ve all felt a little bit like this hungover owl, right? If you’ve ever wished that the person next to you would just clamp it, especially in the morning, you’ll be happy to know that most birdwatchers are so concerned with scaring away birds that they’re ultra-quiet during trips and tours. Tiptoe to your group at the Golden Gate Audubon Society, with whom you can do nature journaling, take a beginner birdwatching class, and learn about pelagic (deep water) birds like puffins, loons, swans, and grebes. Check your area Audubon Society for local classes.
Volunteer with Furry Friends
If you prefer the playful barks of sweet pitties to the mundane words of humans, volunteer with your local shelter or Humane Society. At the Pasadena Humane Society, you can work with “blossoming wallflowers,” shy and fearful dogs who need calm, consistent soothing to trust humans again. (Sometimes we don’t think we deserve their trust, but that’s another story for another day about humans.)
Take a Bullet Journal Class
Many cities offer bullet journaling, the pen-and-paper practice of scheduling, organizing, and brainstorming in a journal, often using bullets. Though this may sound mundane to you if you haven’t heard of the craze, the beautiful, organized, creative journals are an inspiration to look at. Bullet journaling classes allow you to get detailed on your own, but in the company of the others. Studio Life in Seattle and Makers Mess in Los Angeles both offer bullet journaling classes.
Crafting classes are a lot more exciting than the macramé of the ’70s (though of course, macramé itself has gotten a fabulous upgrade). What’s the ultimate crafty city in the West? Portland, of course. You can head to WildCraft to learn sashiko, a Japanese style of mending, or fashion a mason jar koozie to turn it into a mug at DIY Bar. Portland Fashion Institute and Bolt Fabrics both have sewing classes. Often, makers are so focused on their individual projects that they’re not exhausting you with small talk.