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From the Archives: San Diego Date Ideas from 1986

Performance art, mock safaris, and other date ideas from 1986


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It was only 33 years ago, but “Dream Dates” is a reminder of how modern life has changed everything about dating—the way we meet, plan (or not plan) a date, what we do on the date, and how long it lasts. The purpose of the date seems to have changed as well. At least in our February 1986 issue, we emphasized romance (watching the sunset in matching outfits, anyone?). But while we were planning this month’s feature (page 64), the word “romance” hardly came up. We were more concerned with providing ideas and places that would facilitate conversation, help readers get to know a person, share a meaningful or novel experience—or, bottom line, have fun.

In 1986, the dates were lavish and long. For one, we suggested that an adventurous couple embark on a safari of sorts: First stop, Rancho Saab in Kearny Mesa to rent a “bright red convertible Jeep ($59.88 a day). From there, you head to the Banana Republic, a safari clothing store” and “outfit yourselves in genuine African bush clothes” before driving north to the Wild Animal Park “(adult admission is $6.95).” Next on the itinerary: Take a mock safari on a tram, then drive south to Judson’s on Sports Arena Boulevard to feast on wild boar, wild duck, venison, buffalo, bear, and alligator. But it doesn’t end there. “After dinner, you’re in the mood for a movie. And what better film to watch while your stomachs are digesting all this exotic fare than Rambo? After all, he is one of your role models.”

Perhaps the most creative date involves suiting up in “Bohemian garb—turtlenecks, tweed jackets, penny loafers”; going to an art gallery; to Aesop’s Tables on Villa La Jolla Drive; to a bookstore in Normal Heights for a poetry reading; to a mystery location for “Sushi Prom,” a happening by Sushi Performance and Visual Art; and then ending the evening with espresso and quiche at Quel Fromage in Hillcrest.

All the dates are ridiculously spendy, except one: “Instead of trying to hide your impoverished state, why not make light of it?” We recommended that readers “rent a dented early Seventies Pinto, Pacer or Gremlin for $8 a day,” then go to Kobey’s Swap Meet, take in a half-price afternoon movie, board a southbound trolley at Santa Fe Depot, walk across the border, and take a cab to Ciro’s on Avenida Revolución in Tijuana, “where the peso’s ongoing devaluation lets you enjoy a splendid seafood dinner at a fraction of what it would cost in San Diego: delicious shrimp scampi, grilled fish and baked trout dinners will cost you no more than $3 or $4 each.”

Although we may be a little more strapped for time now—who has the hours to see a movie after braving the mall and driving to the Safari Park?—this year’s feature does have something in common with our 1986 story: exploring our city. Go forth, and go steady!

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