Dwayne Mitchell, owner of Local 616
In the movie Groundhog Day, the character played by beloved local Bill Murray must keep reliving one day until he gets it right and wins the love of a woman.
We laugh at the character, but ever wonder how we ourselves look when we’re trying to hook up?
Mitchell shrugs off the honor, saying that he’s no different than many in the food and beverage business, who can size up a customer in less than a minute. He says he just treats patrons the way he would want to be treated.
But he has had a front-row view of how Charlestonians hook up.
He’s seen it all. The couple who had sex in the bathroom (not at his current bar, he hastens to add). The couple who went a little too far at the bar.
“Their hands were somewhere I couldn’t see,” he recalls. “I told them, 'I know you guys are in a special place right now, but you need to calm down.' ”
But mostly, he sees people who don’t want to leave the bar by themselves.
Mitchell says the women tend to be looking for Mr. Right. The men? Mitchell estimates that about 30 percent of them are looking for Ms. Right. The rest are looking for Ms. Right Now.
Women who want company will come in and scan the room, Mitchell says.
“You can see a woman eyeballing someone,” he says. “If I know the person (they’re looking at), I might give them a little something, like 'That guy is taken, don’t bother.' ”
He adds, “Lots of women want everything. They want the white horse and chivalry. But some have a guy’s mentality: I know what I want and I’m taking control of the situation. Sometimes they’ll pay a guy’s tab. Some guys can’t handle that.”
Mitchell says he sees less of the traditional pickup, when a man would buy a woman a drink, take her phone number, and call her after a few days. These days, men who want to hook up tend to approach a woman directly.
“To try to get her out of the building is the objective,” he says. “Or at least to get her number.”
And the technique?
If a woman is with friends, Mitchell says the man will try to single her out.
“It’s like a safari, like I’m the lion, you’re the gazelle,” he reports. “Guys will walk up to a girl and say, ‘Hey, what’s up,' almost like, ‘You can have all of this.' ”
Do the women respond?
“Some of them do,” he says. “Everybody likes attention.”
He says he sees less chivalry in general and surmises that this may be because Charleston’s ratio of men to women heavily favors the men. The College of Charleston, for instance, has more than 60 percent females to just under 40 percent males, making hookups a buyer’s choice for men.
“I watch, and the attitude of a lot of guys is they know what the ratio is and they can act any way towards women. They don’t have to try very hard,” Mitchell says.
For those who aren’t scoring, Mitchell says he sees a big increase in “friends with benefits,” where neither party is trying to be part of a couple.
Still, Mitchell says, romance isn’t completely dead.
“Two couples got engaged right here in this bar,” he says and adds that having five older sisters trained him in how to treat a woman.
“I know how (women) roll,” he says. “My sisters, they’re all, ‘We all want to be with somebody, but we don’t need to be with somebody.' ”
They haven’t asked him, but Mitchell says he longs to counsel the women in the bar. “Women are more deserving of better people. They need to realize they don’t need to be with anybody. It’s a gift you’re giving to be with somebody. Why do you feel like you need to be with somebody?' ”