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Going out in another city? A few things to consider

Posted by Karyn Polewaczyk  June 14, 2013 02:45 PM

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564529_10151414830884478_223016154_n.jpg You're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy

As I type this, I'm preparing a mental checklist of things I'll need for my weekend in Newburyport. A swimsuit. Sunglasses. My toothbrush. A small gift for the host, a friend from high school. And, underlined and marked "Important!": to leave behind any expectations that I'll be able to find savory, greasy Chinese food at 3 AM post-Saturday night out in a seaside town known for its architecture and history, not its nightclubs and tequila shots.

Because here's the thing. I'm familiar with Newburyport—I grew up just 15 minutes away—and when I visit, I don't expect to find the same scene I would in Boston. I expect Lilly Pulitzer sundresses and last call at midnight, which is often what you'll get in a preppy coastal community. Likewise, when I visited Pittsburgh for the first time last week, I didn't secretly harbor hopes that my favorite DJ from the Middlesex Lounge would make an impromptu appearance at Kelly's, the local hotspot-dive that was packed with a mix of hipsters, creative types and a few popped collars on an otherwise ordinary Thursday night. Yet that didn't prevent me from gawking at how inexpensive the bar menu was ($4 cocktails! Never in Boston!), or from whispering "Go Bruins!" when a guy in a Penguins T-shirt passed me on his way to the bathroom, even though 1. I haven't watched a hockey game in years, and 2. I'd never do that back home.

Weekend trips away, in my opinion, are Mother Nature's way of letting us reset our batteries and reclaim our "R's," in short, doable stints, without requiring checked baggage or much commitment other than to show up and enjoy the local scene. But that it does mean we have to leave the comparisons behind, lest we aim to annoy our hosts with anecdotes about the obnoxious tourists who want to know if they're on the Freedom Trail, or how our rent compares (ahem). Here's my short list of things to keep in mind when you go out in another city.

The sports rivalry stops here

Boston fans are the loudest and proudest of the bunch, and in turn have earned a reputation as being acerbic and difficult. Unless you're going for a game—at a stadium or bar, it doesn't matter—refrain from cheering on your beloved B's, Sox and Celtics for the sake of showing your true colors. I hate to say that no one cares, but you won't be hard pressed to find someone to tell you to shut up if you decide to run your mouth at random (unless you're in the South; they're too polite to say much of anything but "God bless him"). Or, just wear a branded T-shirt. They'll figure it out.

Boston is expensive. So is New York. And so aren't a bunch of other places

Did you know that you can rent a two-bedroom apartment in Pittsburgh for $800—downtown? I didn't until last week, and when I found out, I stood there, gap-mouthed, before firing off the ways my rent in various parts of Boston has increased over the seven years I've lived here. Sticker shock can happen to the best of us (see, also, those $4 cocktails, above—which, by the way, were delicious), but if you've done your homework, you'll quickly realize that some parts of the country cost more than others. It makes for boring conversation, though, and after awhile, your group will be inclined to leave you and the cocktail menu alone in a dark corner, where you can allow your eyes to bug out of your head at the idea of drinking a $15 Manhattan in Manhattan in privacy.

Come as you are

I wouldn't describe myself as a fashionista, but I enjoy dressing up, and thus elected to pack a skirt, tank top and fun accessories for my big night out in Steel City (plans included attending my friend's documentary film premiere and a stop at Kelly's). Most people I saw were dressed in jeans and a T-shirt—and while I felt a bit awkward at first (would people dub me as "the chick who tried too hard"?), I quickly got over it. Personal style is as personal style does. I'd have chosen the same thing for an equivalent night out in Boston, and the invitation didn't include a dress code. Wear what you're comfortable in—just be aware of what the occasion calls for. If you wouldn't wear sneakers at a nightclub here, how do you think they'd fare at a nightclub anywhere else?

Please, thank you, excuse me

Manners matter no matter what city you're in, and as a handy refresher, here's my post about nightlife etiquette, complete with expert tips. (You're welcome!)

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Karyn Polewaczyk lives and writes in Boston, and believes that heading out into that good night, like any adventure, begins with the first step. Let's Go Out is a conversation about dating and nightlife in our notoriously chilly city, with first-hand tips from the trenches. Karyn's writing, which focuses largely on women's lifestyle topics, has appeared in the Weekly Dig, Jezebel, xoJane, Northshore Magazine and, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @KarynPolewaczyk.

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