By Suzi Grant, writer and founder of Alternative Ageing
As a single, at the moment, I have grown used to going to the occasional movie on my own & travelling solo. I also live on my own, with my fur baby, and grew up as an “only” child till my brother suddenly appeared when I was nine! This has made me fiercely independent and very happy with my own company, apart from eating dinner out on my own which I have ranted about here.
But music gigs on your own? For those of you lucky enough to have a life partner, you may well think this is a step too far but I love live music so much I just don’t want to miss out because I can’t find anyone to go with. I hope this inspires fellow singletons, of any age, to go out and seize the day and do something you’ve always wanted to do, on your own. It’s liberating.
It all started with Noel Gallagher! When I was in Australia for months last year, tickets to see him came on sale for a concert in Bournemouth. But because of the time difference I just couldn’t wait for emails to go back and forth to see who wanted to come with me and risk missing out. I’m such a fan I just decided to go on my own, for the first time ever, very scary!
By the time the gig came round, I was as worried as any normal person would be. Who would talk to me? Would I stick out like a sore thumb? Would I have an invisible arrow pointing down at me saying “Billy no mates?” Well, I’m here to tell you that human beings are lovely especially when part of the same tribe. You just need to look friendly, act happy & be prepared to talk to strangers!
This group of fireman asked me for a light and we ended up bonding over our love of Noel. (Their partners didn’t look quite so happy!)
Having been a reporter most of my working life certainly helps as I’m used to talking to complete strangers. I’ve carried this over into my blogging life as a photographer, so if you’re into taking snaps it’s easy. I stopped to take a shot of this young Noel Gallagher look alike and ended up talking to him and his Dad before the show in the bar.
I stayed in a B & B and met fellow music lovers to chat to. Not one of them asked why I was on my own. And I got to spend a couple of days in Bournemouth by the sea. A great weekend away and I didn’t feel lonely once, apart from when I saw pairs of deckchairs everywhere. Never single ones! Why is that?
It’s obviously nicer, (but not always!) to share an experience with friends or family but that weekend made me feel invincible and capable of doing anything on my own, should I need to. So…..next stop Coldplay in Sydney!
Again, because of the time difference and how quickly the tickets sell out, I didn’t hesitate this time. I was going to Australia anyway and Coldplay happened to be playing Sydney when I was due to arrive, and it’s warmer there. It was a no brainer!
And, again, I met friendly folk in the queues for food, for the loos, a couple from Korea were sitting next to me & we chatted throughout the amazing show and I even shared a taxi with a group of girls back to the hotel. (Top tips on how to break the ice coming up.) So glad I went.
Again, none of my friends were interested in my most recent solo outing: BST Hyde Park. A day long outdoor gig, yikes! I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to see what was for me the best line-up ever: Tears for Fears, Elbow & The KIllers. I wasn’t going to miss this one but admit I was really nervous as I walked the long walk to the mini Festival. I needn’t have worried……
It helps when you’re an oldie! I met other oldies who were there for Tears for Fears. And younger folk were just fascinated that I was there at my great age! It helps if you dress up. I met other girlies into clothes and we admired each others outfits. And it helps to sit down a lot, you meet other people who are feeling their age and need a rest! I met so many chatty, friendly people and no one asked why I was on my own.
During the wait for The Killers to headline I met two music lovers on their own. One was a young German lad whose girlfriend was right up the front. He, like me, hated feeling crushed so we started chatting sitting in a quiet corner right at the back. During the gig, while we were all on our feet dancing and singing, was a lovely Thai lady, in her 40s, who was also on her own.
The three of us had a ball! In fact the guy said I had made his evening and insisted I meet his girlfriend after the show for a drink and a chat. That’s what happens when you talk to complete strangers.
It was the most amazing hot weekend in London. I went to another gig the next night, with a friend this time, to see Goldfrapp at Somerset House, I met friends for brunch, and had time to enjoy walking around the city taking a few photos. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
I can honestly say, if asked, yes I would definitely do it again. I saw the bands I wanted to see, heard the music I wanted to sing along and dance to, met lovely people, and even got chatted up on the long walk back to the hotel! Best of all, when I go off on these solo events in the UK, I get to stay somewhere else for a night or two which makes it a really great weekend break.
I know music gigs aren’t for everyone but I wanted to share this with you, especially women over 50, to encourage you to go to art shows, the theatre, sports events, whatever you fancy on your own. Here are some top tips on how to have fun as a solo, however old or young you are.
Ten tips on how to break the ice
1. Offer to take a couples’ photo for them, chances are they would love someone else to talk to!
2. Jump at it if someone offers to take a photo of you. Smart phones have changed our lives and sometimes a selfie just won’t do.
3. Ask for help: where’s the nearest loo, bar, best veggie food stall? People love to give advice and help.
4. If someone is on their own, start a conversation. The young German lad looked really unhappy so I asked him why he looked so sad. He wasn’t, he was just feeling a bit vulnerable on his own & was so grateful I started to talk to him.
5. The girls in Sydney I shared a taxi with had a gigantic balloon they had been given at the Coldplay gig, an easy ice breaker!
6. Admire someone’s outfit or take their photo. Most people are deeply flattered and more than happy to chat away.
7. SMILE and act happy! Walking around with a face like a slapped arse isn’t going to encourage people to want to get to know you.
8. Have a drink or two. It helps nerves and I alway meet people at the bar. But don’t get drunk, obviously.
9. Dress comfortably, it’s tiring doing all that dancing and walking. Pinching shoes will give you a pinched face!
10. Dress up in the most confidence boosting outfit you can find. If you feel confident, you’ll look confident and people will be drawn to you. If in doubt, wear something that will start a conversation. Don’t be invisible hoping no one will notice you, ’cause they won’t!
At the end of the day, people don’t generally assume you’re on your own. You may be meeting people, been let down at the last minute or just in a line for food that your “friends” don’t want. So chat away, like you would if you were with friends. I talk to complete strangers when I’m with friends as well, and so do my friends.
So act like you’re part of the same tribe – because you are! And if all else fails, join a Meet Up Group, they are a fantastic way to attend events with a group of people who are also on their own.
And if you want any more info on how to survive a Festival, when you’re camping (haven’t done that on my own yet!), here’s a post about what to pack and what to wear.
Please let me know how you feel about doing things solo. Do you? Would you like to? I will be writing more on this in the future so would love to know your views.
See you soon and have fun in the sun, alone or otherwise!
This article first appeared on Alternative Ageing and Suzi has very kindly allowed us to republish it here.
Suzi Grant was a chain smoking, hard drinking reporter/presenter in TV & Radio for most of her working life. But when her mum died of a heart attack at the age of 63, she decided to take stock of her health and trained as a nutritionist. She then wrote three books, including Alternative Ageing, continues to broadcast as a health & fashion expert, and moved from London to Brighton, where she has enjoyed life to the max ever since! She started her Alternative Ageing Blog in 2014 to share all the things she loves and knows about: health & nutrition, style & travel. Top tips on looking good and feeling great, whatever your age!