Jana Hocking on why men should bring back the art of the ‘pick up’

Podcaster Jana Hocking says that it’s time to put our dating apps on pause and use a different way to meet our next mate.

So something happened to me last Friday night that literally brought back my dating spark! I’ll be honest, I have been feeling a little blaaaah about the whole dating scene recently, having just gone through my millionth “kinda-sorta” break-up. You know what I mean, we weren’t officially a couple, but we were more than just a casual hook up.

Anyway, as is my style, it all ended in fireworks, and I did what any normal person going through a midnight existential crisis would do … I booked a trip to London and decided to really throw caution (and bad blokes) to the wind! Sidenote: What recession?! That’s a problem for “future Jana” to worry about.

So when my newly divorced friend rocked up to my house on Friday night and demanded I put on a dress and come out with her, it’s safe to say I did it very reluctantly.

We went to a local bar/restaurant down the street and ordered a bottle or rosé, all the delicious carbs we could eat, and decided to right the wrongs of the world in one almighty rant. It was glorious. I was in no mood to even give guys a lingering glance, and that, dear friends is when it happened.

I felt a warm hand on my back and a bearded gent leant down to my ear and asked what I would like to drink. There was something about this waiter that just gave me the “va va vooms”. I can’t explain it.

I ordered a dirty gin martini pronto, and he brought it out with a warm smile and said, “This one’s on the house.”

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather. It has been that long since a real bloke, in real life, just had the confidence to buy me a drink.

What followed next was a really delicious ice-cream “on the house”, and then another glass of wine “on the house”. All the while, he was consistently checking on our table, making small chat, and giving me those good ol’ lingering looks I haven’t experienced since my twenties.

It made me realize, we really have lost the art of picking up in real life. We’ve become so consumed with the swipe left, swipe right way of dating, that we’ve forgotten about the excitement and sexual tension that comes with meeting someone sporadically, and, to put it in the most Aussie of terms … “have a crack!”

Sure it takes a bit of bravado, a fair amount of courage, and perhaps some Dutch courage, but I tell you what, nothing else can top that feeling. And can I just say, for those of you thinking “Oh no, no it’s definitely not worth the risk of rejection” – You. Are. Wrong!

No person in their right mind would ever be offended by someone trying to pick them up. It’s kinda win/win. You see, if we don’t like you, we’re still chuffed that you found us attractive enough to give it a go, so we’ll be nice to you. And if we do like you, well doesn’t that just make a great story for your wedding day!

So I would like to start a petition to bring back the art of the pick-up! Yes, we’ve spent enough time in our comfort caves during lockdown. It’s time to buckle up, put the dating apps on pause for a brief hiatus and step out into the real world.

Here are three solid tips that work for me:

1. Fake it till you make it!

Confidence will get you everywhere. Walk into the room as if you own it. Sure you can be freaking out on the inside, but have you ever tried that experiment where you fake laugh, and for some reason it instantly puts you in a good mood? Well try that with confidence.

Give yourself a little pep talk before you walk into the pub. Something along the lines of … I’m not going to be looking at my phone the whole night, I’m going to keep my head up, and ooze confidence.

There are so many times I’ve been attracted to someone who is not stereotypically attractive, but they’ve owned their charisma and it’s made me go weak at the knees. Seriously, fake it till you make it.

2. Eye contact

You need a cue before you make your move, otherwise yes, it can come across a little creepy when someone chats you up out of the blue. So scan the room and try and clock eyes with someone you fancy.

According to the google-sphere, a normal person tends to hold contact for around 3 seconds, but if they hold it for 4-5 seconds then that’s a good sign they’re into you, and it’s worth going over for a chat. Just remember to blink … otherwise, like I said … creepy!

3. Keep the conversation light and fun

Remember that you know nothing about this person who has caught your eye, so keep the initial conversation very chill. Anything too intense could come across thirsty and desperate. Perhaps comment on the drink they’ve ordered, or ask if their meal was worth ordering? The tiniest thing can spark a good convo.

So go forth and be brave this weekend. And if you’re wondering about the bloke who picked me up…well…plot twist…he’s married! Yes, girlfriend really needs to get better at detecting those big metal bands on a bloke’s finger. cheeky bugger! So won’t be getting married anytime soon, but happy to know I still got it.

Jana Hocking is a podcaster and collector of kind-of-boyfriends. | @jana_hocking

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