Dating Locally
One local's guide to dating yourself (and skipping the lift line)

Dating Locally
Jennaye Derge - 02/21/2019

Valentine’s Day was a week ago, and many of us have questionably strong opinions about the holiday. So much so that Christmas may be passing the baton for the holiday that is most passionately and dichotomously loved or hated. And that’s fine, because the fact of the matter is, love stinks. But only if you’re a local single.

I say this as someone who has, on occasion, been in love but is currently solely smitten with my dog. Yes, I have Tindered in this small city to the tune of that guy who used to bartend at my favorite bar, and also swiped left on the gentleman I just ran into in the cereal aisle at the grocery store; yes, you also look familiar, yes, you also dated my friend in college and/or fixed my computer last week. I’m glad we figured that out.

Over time, I’ve discovered that what’s more fun than sitting in front of a stranger spending 10 minutes trying to figure out why we both look kind of familiar is just going out and doing things alone. Which isn’t super congruent to the recent lists popping up of the “best local Valentine’s gifts for your boo” and the “best local restaurants to woo her,” so I’m happily planning my own local date that I’ll go on by myself any day of the week.

The best local date to go on by yourself:

The day starts with coffee, as any day should. Preferably at 81301, where you’ll probably come face to face with another one of your Tinder swipes. Next, you’ll want to grab a breakfast burrito from Backcountry Gourmet, but wear your stretchy pants—the burritos are so huge they are obviously meant to share with someone else, but since it’s just you, you can guiltlessly eat it all by yourself.

A trip to Purgatory is on the agenda, and being a single person means you get to go through the express “singles” lane on Lift 1. Yep, there is a designated lane just for us lonely folk. I suggest going immediately to the back side and riding any four-pack, which we all know is just a tightly squeezed three-pack, and then sitting right in the middle of a couple. This is both good for meeting new friends and safe, because safety is third, especially when you’re the third wheel.

When you get off the lift and tell your new friends “goodbye,” you’re in for a day of skiing whatever the heck you want, however many times you want. If that means putting your headphones in and lapping Boogie all day, so be it. If you want to ride the rickety two-pack on the front side by yourself and race children through Animas City just for giggles? Doesn’t matter one bit. Just be careful, be respectful, and don’t forget to wave to the park rats.

Soaking at Amaya is next. As a single person, this one gets tricky because you’re literally getting yourself into hot water with a bunch of love birds. Don’t look up, you might accidentally stare deep into the soul of a half-naked stranger who is probably somebody’s boyfriend. If you wander into the dark sauna, that rule gets even more serious. Just keep your eyes closed while at Amaya—always.

Dinner and drinks at, say, Eolus or Ken and Sue’s is my favorite part of my single gal nights because this I generally do with friends—and since most, if not all, of my friends are either married or in committed relationships, I get to tag along while they argue over who forgot to get milk at the grocery store or what Netflix series was accidentally watched without the other person present.

This leads me to the end of the night. As a single person, you get to go home and watch whatever you want to on Netflix or Hulu or Nickelodeon or whatever. It doesn’t matter if it’s the third time you’ve watched “New Girl” and you can quote the whole third season—the only person who cares is your dog and maybe your ex because you’re still using his Netflix password.

Valentine’s Day is, thankfully, long gone by now, and the next holiday is St. Patrick’s Day. So why not call this “How to Take Yourself on a Local Date on St. Patrick’s Day”—it doesn’t matter when, just wear green and keep it local.

Denise Leslie speaking at Sorrel Sky Gallery during The Creative Connect Hour recently / photo by Scott DW Smith

Durango Creative District



DL: Upon my arrival to Durango, I started working at Music in the Mountains as the Communications Director. Then I started my own business publishing playbills for arts groups and soon after purchased the Arts Perspective magazine. After we closed the magazine, I picked up the ukulele for therapeutic reasons and boom, I started the Rocky Mountain UkeFest now in its 5th year. In August of last year, I joined Sorrel Sky Gallery as an arts consultant and I handle community relations. I’m in the best job ever and I get to be surrounded by amazing artist work everyday. It’s quite the “coo” in my book. I coordinate community events taking place in the gallery as well as our own events - including the 17th Anniversary of Sorrel Sky Gallery featuring one of our artist, Peggy Immel on April 5th. I also just became the coordinator for the Durango Art Galleries Collective (formerly the Durango Gallery Association) who present the Spring and Fall Gallery Walks in Durango. So I have a lot going on and I’m lovin’ it.


DL: I have always seen Durango as a place full of culture and art. We moved here from Austin, Texas where we were heavily involved in the arts around town. When we moved to Durango we were thinking we would have a little less “craziness” in our work, but what we found was a thriving arts scene in Durango! We got involved because my husband, Charles and I are extremely passionate to be surrounded by arts in our work and in our personal lives. We noticed there wasn’t an arts council or a creative leadership on the organized level.


DL: Anyone who is a creative or even a supporter of the “creative” industry can be involved. Most folks think of the arts as visual, performing, music, theatre, ballet, opera, etc. Or in a corporate environment, it’s usually the marketing department. However, this initiative has been developed by the Colorado Creative Industries (the former Colorado Council on the Arts and Arts in Public Places program) and so a lot of emphasis is on the creative culture in our community. That can include everything from visual and musical art to beer brewers or a cultural experience like a trip through the mountains on a historical train. So you can see how everyone can have a place in this creative process.


DL: The Creative District will create that missing piece and bring recognition of Durango not only being a great place for outdoors and nature, but also for the arts and other creative areas of our community. It is exciting and I love seeing all of us coming together, working on ideas and changes to make a strong thriving creative “town”.