Here's What Happened When I Went On 30 Concert Dates Straight

Here's What Happened When I Went On 30 Concert Dates Straight

Julianne Ishler

‘Putting myself out there’ in the name of music (and making my grandma happy).

I used to watch romantic comedies and think dating was a kind of status symbol. It showed that a woman was independent, confident, carefree. I couldn’t wait for the day I’d dance to “Thriller” at a glamorous work event with my childhood bestie-turned-hottie like Jennifer Garner in “13 Going On 30.”

At the very least, I thought, I’d bump into a hot stranger on the street. And then, obviously, we’d fall deeply, madly in love.

In reality–as most of us eventually learn–dating can be weird and confusing. At times it can even trash your faith in humanity completely. Locking eyes in a crowded bar with someone across the room is replaced by superficial swipes at 2 a.m. How do you find someone you’re attracted to and also have a real connection with? How do you know if someone you thought was cool turns out to be a rapper trying to sell you his unreleased mixtape?

Sure, it’s easy to blame Tinder for ruining romance when you really need to just get off your butt and get out there. I’ve almost memorized the speech I give about how dating sucks and men are trash when in reality, I’ll cancel plans to stay in with Chipotle and Netflix at the slightest opportunity.

For the past few years, I’ve been the chronic third (or fifth! or seventh!) wheel of my friend group. And I just can’t face another Thanksgiving having to lie to my Grandma about how I’m “putting myself out there.”

So I decided to actively date for a month, and see what would happen.

Teaming up with Red Bull to cover their November concert series in Chicago, we created a project called “30 Dates In Chicago.” Here’s how it goes: each night of the month, I bring a different date to a Red Bull Sound Select show in hopes that maybe, just maybe, I’ll find someone I don’t hate standing next to at a concert.

As someone who’s passionate about live music and discovering new artists, it’s an opportunity to connect with like-minded people who share similar interests. I’d now have no excuse not to go up to the cute guitar player I see every month at jam night. It’s also an opportunity to say yes to people I would have swiped left on because they’re not Harry Styles or fit for my unrealistic high standards.

With an open mind, open heart and open Insta-diary here’s a look back at the dates this month.