Art gallery openings are great places to meet people. Dress: casual. Admission: free. Many offer free refreshments as well. You don't have to be an art expert to attend, but it's a good idea to rehearse looking "sensitive" and saying such things as "I find it very derivative" or "I find it totally refreshing," just in case someone asks what you think. You can find openings listed in The Times Calendar Weekend each Thursday. Receptions scheduled this weekend include: 8-10 tonight at Orlando Gallery, 14553 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 789-6012; 2-5 p.m. Saturday at Viva Gallery, 8516 Reseda Blvd., Northridge, (818) 576-0775; 5-7 p.m. Saturday at Brand Library Gallery, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale, (818) 548-2051; and 2-5 p.m. Sunday at Village Square Art Gallery, 2418 Honolulu Ave., Suite C, Montrose, (818) 541-9952.
* Coffeehouses are good for first dates--good for conversation, and the most expensive item on the menu is probably a fancy blended frozen mocha for $4. You don't have to be an expert on the virtues of Sumatra versus Viennese roast, but it's a good idea to know how to pronounce Sumatra. Starbucks is all over the place. Some prominent independents are Coffee Junction, 19221 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, (818) 342-3405, and Common Grounds, 9250 Reseda Blvd., Northridge, (818) 882-3666.
* Free outdoor concerts are a great destination for those with thin wallets. You don't have to be an expert on music to sit on a blanket and listen, but it's a good idea to find some shade and a great idea to pack a picnic basket. Agoura Hills, Burbank, Glendale and Santa Clarita all offer free or low-cost summer concerts. The Valley Cultural Center's 1999 Concert Series at Warner Park, 5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills, opens at 4 p.m. Sunday with a concert featuring local student musicians. (818) 704-1587.
For some men, dating is as much an economic endeavor as a social one. If he can't flash the cash, what's a guy to do? But being broke shouldn't cramp your social life. Just because your cash has stopped flowing doesn't mean that your hormones have, too. What you need is a cheap date.*