Date Lab: the playlist of the evening did not match the atmosphere


After gaining some liquid courage from a white claw, 29-year-old Conner House went to Italian restaurant San Lorenzo on Ninth Street NW and sought out his date, 24-year-old Diego Sanchez. His first impression was that Diego looked cute. Conner also picked up an accent and was intrigued. He complimented Diego’s classic white Reeboks, and they went off to take pictures.

Diego, who works in tech sales, admits he’s not camera shy so he was happy to take pictures, even if it was awkward to pose with a stranger. At least in Diego’s description, this stranger was “well-dressed”, something he appreciates in a game.

The restaurant seated them in a secluded spot, and when it came time to order drinks, Conner suggested he choose a bottle for the two of them. Even though Diego is the kind of person who “likes to be in control,” he was happy to let Conner show off his knowledge of wine. His first selection of wines from a montepulciano was not available so they got another bottle of red which they both enjoyed.

The couple ordered grilled calamari to share, and from then on there was not a dull moment in the conversation. Conner found out that Diego grew up in Colombia and after immigrating to the United States for school, he became a citizen in January 2020. They joked about the inopportune timing of this. He moved from Atlanta to DC last year.

Conner, a project manager for a global health nonprofit, is also a new transplant. The Seattle native asked for a job transfer after realizing many of his friends were in a different phase of life as they settled down and had families. In his Date Lab app, he said he “hopes to have kids one day when he meets the right person.” Conner also didn’t have many gay friends back home, and he shared with Diego that he was happy to find a community in DC, especially after joining a popular gay kickball league.

“Is it competitive?” Diego asked. Conner explained that’s usually the case, unless everyone is exhausted from brunch. If drunken kickball is considered exercise, Conner fits Diego’s claim for “someone who likes to work out and take care of their body.” Conner told us he appreciates “guys taking care of themselves…staying active.” Diego considered joining a kickball league last fall, but waited due to his busy travel schedule.

After moving for work, Diego expected to work in an office, but the delta variant of the coronavirus threw a wrench in his plan to return to the office and gave him the unexpected flexibility to work from anywhere. He takes advantage of it and hits the road. So much of the evening’s conversation was devoted to travel discussions. Conner shared that he had unfortunate plans to go to Europe in 2020. Diego told him that most of his discretionary income is spent on travel and that he also longs for a trip to Europe, especially Paris.

Diego’s company is headquartered in Seattle, and he’s less than enthusiastic about returning to the city after being hosed down for an entire week on his last trip. Conner advised her to book her next stay in July or August, as those months tend to be dry.

They ordered dinner, rib ravioli for Conner and lobster risotto for Diego. Both are Italian food lovers and were very enthusiastic about Date Lab’s selection of restaurants. In fact, the risotto was so good that Diego took a picture and sent it to his mother. She said it looked delicious. According to him, it was!

Conner noticed that the restaurant appeared to be stuck on a Bon Jovi station or playlist. When one Bon Jovi hit after another, he couldn’t keep a straight face. It felt like an awkward musical selection for such a romantic venue. Once he explained the theme to Diego, they laughed together. Discussions of music selections quickly led to a conversation about upcoming gigs. Conner told Diego he had tickets to see Rufus Du Sol, an Australian electronic music group. Diego’s taste leans towards pop, and he shared that he hopes to see Lady Gaga live this summer.

Conner finished his meal with tiramisu for dessert. Diego immediately regretted choosing the panna cotta after taking a bite of both. They settled the bill and dated, exchanging Instagram handles along the way. Diego later told me that he prefers communicating with dates through Instagram rather than texting because he likes to see who they know in common, watch their stories, and get a deeper insight into their lifestyle. “He was super cool, and I would be willing to go on a second date,” he said.

Both were walking home, so they said goodbye after a few minutes and parted ways. Although Conner reported that he had “more friend vibes” from their farewell, he said Diego “looked like someone I wish I got to know better”.

They have been DM-ing on Instagram and may see each other again.

Damona Hoffman is a certified dating coach and host of the “Dates & Mates” podcast.

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