The Go Solo Project (Or “How I Ended up at a Male Strip Show. By Myself. Because That’s Not Weird.”)

November 10, 2013
A few weeks ago, I discovered that my blog had been mentioned in this article about solo female travel.

Instead of being all giddy about the fact that, apparently, I’m totally famous in Australia, I felt like a sham.

You see, the author described me as someone who “took on the world.” And, you guys, I’m pretty sure that has never happened. Unless by “world” she meant “all the weird potato chip flavors of Asia.” In which case that only partly happened because I have my limits and cheesy-lobster-flavored potato chips are definitely beyond those limits. And, yes, cheesy-lobster-flavored chips exist BECAUSE CHINA.

Plus, well, maybe you noticed, but I haven’t really been doing all that much world travel lately.

I was worried that all these people would be clicking on the link to my blog, expecting to find blog posts about me taking on the world, and, instead, find blog posts about me taking on frozen custard and my new hardwood floors.

My current attempts to take over the world look like this.

My current attempt to take over the world looks like this.

Not that these are not blog-worthy tasks.

But still.

The article got me thinking about how I’m kind of a sham in other ways, too.

Like the fact that, sure, I may travel a lot on my own and I may blather on and on about the perks of solo travel. (Like, you never have to change your pants! Ever! And, go ahead, eat two breakfasts! No one will ever know! Wheee!)

But there are still a lot of other things – non-travely things – that I feel uncomfortable doing on my own.

There have been more than a few times since I’ve moved to Michigan that I’ve wanted to go somewhere or do something. But I’d have to go on my own since I don’t know many people here and OMIGOD EVERYONE’S GOING TO STARE AT ME AND PROBABLY SUSPECT I HAVE BODY LICE AND THAT’S WHY NO ONE WANTS TO HANG OUT WITH ME AND I SHOULD PROBABLY JUST STAY ON MY COUCH AND CRY AND INSPECT MYSELF FOR BODY LICE.

I hate when people tell me they want to travel but they can’t because they don’t have anyone to go with. So why was I using this same excuse not to do things I wanted to do?

Hence, the “Go Solo Project” was born.

Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s not the cleverest of names. But I’m not particularly good at the whole naming thing. (Did I ever tell you about the time I had a cat named Kitty? Let’s just all thank our lucky stars I have no plans to have any children.)

Besides, that’s exactly what this project is: me going solo to things that I don’t feel all that comfortable going solo to.

It started last weekend when I went to Art Hop by myself. Art Hop is Kalamazoo’s version of First Friday, where all the art galleries are open to the public on the first Friday of the month and you can drink free wine and stare at art and generally act like a total hipster.

Since it’s an evening event and I knew it would mostly be occupied by couples and families and groups of friends, I felt awkward going on my own.

But I pulled on a black turtleneck and the skinniest pair of jeans I could find in an attempt to at least look like I fit in even if I knew I wouldn’t feel that way.

And it worked.

I felt a little awkward at first about being there by myself. But no one stared or commented about my possible body lice. And, soon enough, I was poking around and taking pictures and drinking wine from a plastic cup and enjoying myself.

Love the art. Need more wine.

Love the art. Need more wine.

And when I left the event and was walking home, someone leaned out of their minivan and called me a hipster.

If that’s not a sign of success, I don’t know what is.

So I decided to up the ante a bit.

And that’s how the Go Solo Project quickly went from “This Thing That I’m Going to Do to Push Myself Out of My Comfort Zone in a Good Way, and Give Me Something to Write About and, Hopefully, Help Me Push Other People Out of their Comfort Zones, Too.”

To “This Thing That I’m Going to Do That Is Going to Make Me Feel Really Awkward and Weird and Possibly Get Me Arrested, But, Hey, It Should Make for a Really Good Story Later!”

Kind of like that time I decided to take a year off from my job and travel around Asia and volunteer. And then I ended up wading through a Malaysian rice paddy being told off-handedly by the rice farmer that I should keep an eye out for pythons.

But, instead, of finding myself knee-deep in mud, I found myself in knee-length-boots and a leopard-print top on my way to a male strip show.

Male strip show attire is on!

Male strip show attire is on!

Because I was pretty sure this was exactly what one wears to a male strip show. Not that I’ve ever been to a male strip show before.

Heck, I’ve only ever been to one bachelorette party in my life, and it was the kind of thing where there was a cheese platter.

My kind of bachelorette party.

My kind of bachelorette party.

So, yeah, male strip shows are not exactly my bag.

But when I spotted the poster for Thunder from Down Under outside of the theater in downtown Kalamazoo, I knew it was exactly the type of thing I would feel really, really uncomfortable going to on my own because I knew it was exactly the kind of event that no woman in her right mind would go to on her own.
Group rates? What about "Solo lady doing this for her blog rates"? Are there any of those?

Group rates available? What about “Solo lady doing this for her blog rates”? Are there any of those?

And I was right.

When I settled into my seat – a mere three rows from the stage — I found myself surrounded by groups. Bachelorette party groups. Birthday party groups. Divorce party groups. (Yes, apparently, that’s a thing.) Groups of coworkers. Groups of friends. One big group of family members, complete with a seventy-five-year-old grandmother. I even spotted two couples there on what appeared to be a double-date.

But, from what I could tell, I was definitely the only woman there on her own.

I sipped my drink and tried to convince myself that going to a male strip show by myself was really no different than going to a movie or play by myself. As soon as the lights went down, I’d be able to forget I was all by myself and just be able to sit back and quietly enjoy the show.

Except I was wrong.

There is no sitting-back-and-quietly-enjoying when it comes to a male strip show – at least not this male strip show. As soon as the band of strapping, six-packed Australian strippers showed up on stage, all the women around me were jumping up and down and screaming, dancing in the aisles and screaming, and lunging towards the performers and screaming.

Let’s just say, there was a lot of screaming.

There was also a lot of hauling of women on to the stage – even the seventy-five-year-old grandma was pulled up on to stage where one of the strippers performed a sexy dance in front of her and, then, on top of her.

I was the only person in the theater attempting to sit back and quietly enjoy herself. If “cringing and desperately hoping against hope that I wouldn’t be dragged on to stage by a sweaty stripper” can be considered “sitting back and quietly enjoying myself.”

Which I’m pretty sure it cannot.

Not that the show was completely without enjoyment. I mean, I have to admit there is something undeniably entertaining about an over-muscled man attempting to sexy dance while wearing nothing but a g-string, a knee brace and a pair of sneakers.

But, after two hours of strobe lights and leather chaps and sweaty six-packs,  I left the theater relieved it was finally over  and I could cross “go to a male strip show” off my list of things I ever needed to do again.

Not that it was ever really even on my list to begin with.

Have you ever done something by yourself that made you feel really awkward and not in a good push-yourself-out-of-your-comfort-zone way but in a holy-crap-what-am-I-even-doing-here way?
Also, do you have any suggestions of things I should do by myself as part of my Go Solo Project? (And, please, oh please, can those things not involve sweaty strippers in leather chaps?)

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On November 10, 2013 at 3:16 pm Priya said:

    Really, just like Magic Mike. Only live. Really live. I’ve always wanted to go to a “strip show” but never have. I think your current attempt to take over the world looks perfectly valid.

    Go Solo Project Ideas:
    -Take yourself out for a date.
    -Take a dance class or something
    -Go to a comedy show
    -go to a networking event (not so much for the networking unless you want to) but to write about it
    -Baseball game? or any sports game (bonus points if you don’t understand what’s going on)
    -Go to a casino ( DO IT!)

    That’s all I got.
    Priya recently posted..A Letter To My Deceased Mom

  2. On November 10, 2013 at 4:07 pm Michelle @ Mishfish13 said:

    Going to a party alone is definitely on the list of “awkward things that I shouldn’t have tried to go solo.” But then I tried again (because I like torturing myself) and I’d have to amend that to “going to a party alone where I know no one.”

    This was too funny 😉
    Michelle @ Mishfish13 recently posted..[POTD]: showing off my angles

    • On November 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm Sally said:

      Definitely! I hate parties by myself… heck, I hate parties where I only know 1 other person because what if that one other person gets busy talking to people that aren’t me and I actually have to talk to people I don’t know. AHHHHHHH!

  3. On November 10, 2013 at 4:37 pm Terri said:

    I think you should go see “Spanked” this weekend 🙂
    But I am afarid you won’t be alone.. except in the seat, as I will be there sitting by myself in my single seat.
    I think this is a great idea, and you should keep doing it. You are braver than I am… well sort of… I usually bring my dog with me on adventures 🙂

  4. On November 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm Gillian said: go ALL out!! That is the biggest leap out of a comfort zone I think I’ve ever seen! You GO girl!
    Gillian recently posted..Monthly Feature: History Books

    • On November 14, 2013 at 8:33 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, I’m pretty surprised I did it myself! It wasn’t even the kind of thing that I would really want to do in a group either, so that just made it even more awkward.

  5. On November 11, 2013 at 12:38 pm Madhu Bhardwaj said:

    I think you have already done thw most difficult one already. So the going will get easier now.
    Go solo project ideas
    1. Go for a two wheeler/motor cycle trip on your own
    2. Visit an Indian temple (ask me for tips before you do it)
    3. Teach an impromptu cookery class to someone who knows one thing less than you do.
    Alternatively, you could take such a class from a collegue, acquaintance.
    Madhu Bhardwaj recently posted..Kitchens Of India: much awaited combo

    • On November 14, 2013 at 8:32 pm Sally said:

      I’m terrified of driving a motorcycle… but I have really wanted to do a long distance bike ride by myself. That’s kind of the same thing, right?

      • On April 25, 2014 at 11:46 pm Linda said:

        A good way to learn about motorcycles is to take a motorcycle safety class. They provide helmets, instructions, little bikes and, if you’re lucky, humor.

        I came here by way of Steph’s awesome blogger round-up. I’ve been two-wheeling since cough cough ago.

  6. On November 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm kate convissor said:

    Since I know you’re a Project Runway fan (I’m not stalking you. Honest.), did you catch the episode featuring Thunder from Down Under? The one in which no one could create a costume because their bodies “weren’t normal.” Couple seasons ago The reaction from the judges is worth the Google search.
    kate convissor recently posted..On the road again…to Mexico

  7. On November 11, 2013 at 6:57 pm Isabelle said:

    Wow, Congratulations! I’ve been to tons of things by myself but nothing as daring. To be honest, I don’t really care what people think of me, if I want to go, I go. But sometimes, it’s just way too lonely and boring. Seeing everyone having fun where you are just sitting there gets to you after a while. So here is my list: going to my bank ‘gratefullness’ evening (everyone was over 70 but I got a nice bottle of wine out of it!), a cabaret-style show where I was sitting at a round table with total strangers who didn’t speak to me all night!, a special evening for members of the museum where again I was the only one by myself and everyone was over 65, but there was one time it worked out well, it was a special cheese gastronomic dinner and I was sitting at a round table with 7 older people who were all friends, they were super nice and I ended up taking care of the voting (we had to vote for the best appetizer, best main etc…) and it was a lovely evening. I’m always hoping to have a repeat of that night but it doesn’t happen…

  8. On November 12, 2013 at 1:49 am Selly said:

    Go you Sally!!!

    Now, does going to a Chinese bank to handle of official things because my fish is too busy to help me count? I always feel they have no idea what I want even though I can clearly express myself so I just moan to my fish and beg for him to come with me but these past few days he doesn’t have the time to do it so I need to do all these annoying things by myself…solo. Meh!

    Your ideas are definitely more fun than that, I need to learn from you!!!

    • On November 14, 2013 at 8:30 pm Sally said:

      I think going to the bank solo definitely counts. Although next time work on something that counts AND is fun, okay? Semi-naked Australians optional, of course.

  9. On November 12, 2013 at 8:11 am Sid said:

    I am going to a Dave Matthews Band concert by myself. Totally freaked out.
    Sid recently posted..Crazy/beautiful – Kenilworth Racecourse

    • On November 14, 2013 at 8:29 pm Sally said:

      Ooo, good luck! Big concerts are definitely another thing I feel uncomfortable doing on my own — not that I’ve tried. I guess I’d better add that to my list!

  10. On November 12, 2013 at 8:28 am Beth said:

    Hahaha I love the idea of the Go Solo Project, but not sure I’d add going to a strip club as one of the items!

    Also, I love that you named your cat “Kitty”. My last cat’s name was “Boy”. 🙂
    Beth recently posted..Street Scenes from Hong Kong

  11. On November 12, 2013 at 3:46 pm Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    I take it you would name any future children either a) Kid, b) Kidette, or c) Kalamazoo? I think we both know I’m right. Unless you went down the route of naming them after cheeses.

    Anyway, I’ve yet to go to a male strip show so I’m a little bit jealous as that would be EXACTLY my kind of event. I loves me some over-muscled Aussies.

    Suggestions for future things to do on your own…hmmm….
    1) go to a state you’ve never been to
    2) go cheese rolling. It’s a thing.
    3) pick a fight with a cast member of any of the ‘Real Housewives’, or ‘Big Rich Texas’.
    4) cut your own hair.
    5) do that thing that Bruce Willis does in one of the Die Hard movies when he stands in the middle of the street making ethnic slurs in front of a rather unhappy gang.
    6) use a space hopper as your sole mode of transportation for a day.
    7) hold a ‘Shang From Mulan Lookalike Contest’ in your apartment.

    That should keep you going for a while.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..An Unexpected Love: Falling Hard For Belgrade

    • On November 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm Sally said:

      Every day is a “Shang From Mulan Lookalike Contest” in MY apartment. Except, unfortunately, the contestants have yet to show up… And now I need to go Google search “cheese rolling.”

  12. On November 13, 2013 at 3:28 am Ali said:

    Hilarious! I have been dragged to a few strip clubs for bachelorette parties, including the Chippendales in Vegas (one of them was my best friend’s trainer at the gym…if that doesn’t get a girl to work out I’m not sure what will) and I always feel awkward even with a group! So I’m super impressed you went (& survived) by yourself.

    I’ve traveled by myself many times but I still haven’t been to the movies by myself which seems like it shouldn’t be a big deal. I mean, it’s dark in there, no one would even see me sitting by myself. Someday…
    Ali recently posted..How Much We Spent Traveling in Rome

    • On November 14, 2013 at 8:27 pm Sally said:

      Omigosh, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE going to movies by myself. It’s the best thing to do alone EVER — you don’t have to share your popcorn or your armrest and you don’t have to worry about anyone talking to you during the movie (unless you like that kind of thing… in which case we can’t be friends). I’m even thinking about cheating a little with this week’s Go Solo Project and going to a movie by myself. But I figure after last week’s strip show, I can take it a bit easy this week… right?

  13. On November 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm mallory said:

    My favorite solo dates are:
    1) Go see a movie you want by yourself in a classy theater — also works for theater and opera.
    2) Go to a concert by yourself. Get there early so you can stand in the front. Props if its a smaller/newer group because then you can go and awkwardly try to talk to them afterwards…and maybe go home with one of them (ha! kidding…)
    3) (My favorite) Take yourself out to dinner. Bonus if it’s a classy, multi-course dinner.

    Sounds like you’re having so many adventures! I don’t know that I’d be brave enough to go to a stripper show with my girlfriends, let alone by myself.

    • On November 19, 2013 at 7:01 pm Sally said:

      I love going to movies & theater by myself — but it doesn’t really push me out of my comfort zone, which is kind of the whole point of this project. Now, the dinner thing I have done multiple times (mostly while traveling) but it still makes me uncomfortable, so I really need to work on that. And I’m not sure if I’ve ever been to a concert by myself — at least not a stand-up rock concert, I’ve been to the sit-down kinds. I’m adding those to the list!

  14. On November 18, 2013 at 4:37 pm Camille said:

    You are so brave. I CANNOT imagine a Thunder from Down Under Show solo. Yikes! And so funny.

    Once I attended this nerdy science lecture by myself, and somehow none of the people in the seats around me ended up showing up, so it was just me in the middle of this bank of empty seats. I felt like I had a beacon on my head.

    I try to have your same positive attitude and not let my singlehood stop me from doing things. As a result, I have done a lot of stuff alone-here’s a few (I totally agree with you that going to movies alone is the best). Pick any if they seem like a good challenge!

    •Travel, including a beer fest, which was uber awkward. And it’s hard not to look like a creeper when you’re sitting in some hotel hot tub with other people.
    • Hiking, there’s no problem here until you run into a moose. At least with a friend you have a 50/50 chance of not being the one gored.
    • Restaurant dining (Small plates or fondue is not a good idea here. Or a “speakeasy” so dark that you can’t quietly read–you just sit and stare at the guido-types at the bar in front of you and pray they don’t come over.)
    • Plays or concerts
    • The thing that has been the most difficult for me is hitting up a bar alone–either at a “networking” event (terror!) or to watch a sporting event (that halftime break can seem interminable). I even went to a dance club alone once. Also painful.

    I haven’t been able to work up the chuztpah to go to an actual sporting event, wine tasting, or camping alone, so those could be other options for you.

    Good luck!

    • On November 19, 2013 at 6:58 pm Sally said:

      I can’t believe you went to a dance club by yourself. Now THAT is brave. I don’t even go to dance clubs with friends. In fact, I think I can count on one finger how many times I’ve been to a dance club. I think if I managed to go to a dance club alone, I’d basically be Wonder Woman.
      P.S. I’m adding some of your list to my list. Good suggestions!

  15. On November 19, 2013 at 6:05 am Carmel said:

    Yikes. You are much braver than I am. Or crazier, which I didn’t think was possible. 🙂

    I’d stick to the art shows.
    Carmel recently posted..SNAPSHOTS OF EL NIDO

  16. On November 22, 2013 at 11:16 pm Heather said:

    Um, so I tried the cheesy-lobster flavored potato chips in China and they were kind of amazing. They tasted exactly like you’d expect cheesy lobster to taste (i.e. delicious).

    I’ve been going to restaurants and movies by myself for years, and have even gone to a few Broadway shows solo. Like you said, you’re not talking during the show anyway! That strip show sounds like a whole other ball of wax, though. How about something less cringe-worthy, like skydiving? Or taking a Segway tour? Maybe a carriage ride through Amish Country? Or you could totally start your own reality show called Cats and Crackheads, where you use the healing power of felines to rehabilitate drug addicts. You’re welcome.
    Heather recently posted..How to Quickly Comprehend Chinese While in China

    • On November 26, 2013 at 10:42 am Sally said:

      See to me “cheesy” and “lobster” just never really sounded good. Plus, I got burned on the whole shellfish potato chip thing when I was in Japan. After that I vowed never again.
      And Cats and Crackheads? GENIUS!

  17. On November 26, 2013 at 5:28 am Jess said:

    This post was absolutely hilarious! I plan on making a similar commitment to combat my shyness.

    Last weekend I was sitting in a park in Barcelona near to a pretty touristy spot. As I was relaxing and taking everything in, people kept coming up to me and asking if I could take their picture. I decided that this would be a perfect challenge for your Go Solo Project. I’m pretty sure that one of the people was American and she and I spoke Spanish to each other. Being forced to speak another language with people I didn’t know added an extra dynamic to the concept.

    So here it is:
    -Go sit near a touristy photo op and take pictures for people when approached.

    In order for this to work, you need to look approachable, so no ipod to help pass the time.
    Jess recently posted..Enchanted and Waterlogged in Norway

  18. On November 26, 2013 at 7:54 am Ceri said:

    This is brilliant. You may have to be stripped of your “unbrave” crown for doing this.
    Ceri recently posted..Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico City

  19. On November 26, 2013 at 9:41 am Carol Perehudoff said:

    You have a sense of humour after my own heart! So glad I found your blog through Michael Hodson’s Huff Post article. I once ended up at a male ‘host’ bar in Tokyo at 6 a.m. by myself – but it was an accident. I swear.
    Carol Perehudoff recently posted..What do we do in Venice?

  20. On December 13, 2013 at 1:25 am Rachel Leshaw said:

    Dance clubs and concerts are no problem solo (for me) because music is the focus. But at a bar alone, I feel like a goon. Small talk is torture!

    Family style dining in Nashville tested my limits. I was perfectly happy to eat my fried food and listen to the drama of the various groups at the table. But they tried to involve me in their conversations. Either out of pity or Southern hospitality. I couldn’t tell.

    I can do anything alone except karaoke!

    • On December 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm Sally said:

      Omigosh. I think I really need to go eat by myself in Nashville. I haven’t been to the South much — and I don’t think I’ve ever dined there solo as I’ve always traveled there with other people — so I’ve never experienced people trying to involve me in their conversations. In the north, people don’t even make eye contact with you let alone try to include you! That sounds really awkward… and like it would make an awesome blog post.
      As for karaoke, I think if you did the Asian style of karaoke (by yourself in a small room or “box”) that would be cool. In fact, I knew people in Japan who used to go to karaoke by themselves to practice. Although you wouldn’t have anyone to play the tambourine for you. Bummer.


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