By Jan Mercker
Valentine’s Day in the burbs—what can we say? Your favorite restaurants are booked with smug couples and your newsfeed is awash with mushy sentiments. But this year, anti-Valentine’s events are trending in Loudoun. So, if you’re single, bitter, brokenhearted, hopeful or just can’t be bothered with romance, you can head out for a fun Friday night on Feb. 14 and not feel weird.
Randy Krukles, a manager at Belly Love Brewing Company in Purcellville, is the creative genius behind the brewery’s first ever Fook Love anti-Valentine’s party. Krukles was inspired by Belly Love’s popular My Bitter X IPA (the brainchild of owner/head brewer Tolga Baki) and a desire to get out the message that it’s OK to be single in Loudoun.
“We wanted to do something all inclusive not just geared toward couples,” Krukles said. “Let’s face it: there are a bunch of people who are single and they should be able to have fun on Valentine’s Day.”
The brewery is planning to celebrate with games like Darts at Hearts, a DJ and drink specials, including a My Bloody X beer cocktail.
“It was kind of an opportunity to poke a hole at the whole concept [of Valentine’s Day],” Krukles said.
For Krukles, who’s currently single, the point was to make room for the unattached in a very family and couples-oriented community. And while couples are absolutely invited to the party, she wants singles to know that this is for them.
“I think there are more younger people moving back into the area not just to settle down and have families,” she said. “Hopefully, this will remind them that they have a place in Loudoun County. … If all of these people get involved, we can shape it into an all-inclusive community.”
Anti-Valentine’s is also on the calendar at 14 Loudoun in downtown Leesburg. The seasonal pop-up themed restaurant and bar did an over the top Valentine’s celebration two years ago, but this year decided to take a very different approach. So, there you won’t see any hearts or pink balloons anywhere in sight.
“This year we thought it would be fun to take it in the other direction. … Not that couples aren’t welcome, but we’re pushing to forget all the mushy stuff,” said Sam Athanas, a project manager for the local restaurant group that runs 14 Loudoun, its sister establishments SideBar and Round Hill’s More Better Restaurant & Beer Hall.
The party features local favorite DJ ERK whose style Athanas describes as a little heavier than what they’d normally offer.
“It’ll definitely be a different, not so romantic vibe as we’ve had in years past,” Athanas said.
Athanas says that 14 Loudoun’s inclusive style complements More Better’s family vibe and SideBar’s romantic ambiance. And while couples are always welcome, 14 Loudoun is often a hot spot for singles and groups and part of the growing singles scene in downtown Leesburg—where it’s not always about date nights.
“There’s definitely a market for both,” Athanas said. “14 Loudoun’s a perfect spot for the kind of vibe of people just going out to have a good time and meet other people potentially.”
For singles who are looking for love or friendship and don’t necessarily want to find it in a bar, Escape Room LoCo is offering its inaugural Single Mingle event on Valentine’s Day (on the early side just in case you meet someone special and want to go for coffee or a cocktail after). The business has offered events for couples in the past, but this year, organizers wanted to try something different.
“This year, the owner and I came up with the idea of let’s also do something for the singles,” said general manager Mitch Lockhart.
Lockhart is offering two sessions at 3:30 and 5 p.m. allowing singles to hang out in an escape room with other singles and work together to solve puzzles.
Lockhart is in a relationship but says he’s noticed an evolving singles scene as a Leesburg resident.
“There’s a lot of things nowadays that are geared more toward socializing as a single person,” he said.
Belly Love Brewing Company’s Fook Love party is Friday, Feb. 14 from 7 to 10 p.m. at 725 E. Main St. in Purcellville. For more information, go to bellylovebrewing.com.
14 Loudoun’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Party is Friday, Feb. 14 from 9 p.m. to midnight at 14 Loudoun St. SE, Leesburg. For more information, go to facebook.com/14loudoun.
Escape Room LoCo’s Single Mingle Valentine’s event takes place Friday, Feb. 14 at 3:30 and 5 p.m. at 2A Cardinal Park Drive SE, Leesburg. Cost is $20 per person, and advanced reservations are recommended. For tickets and information, go to escaperoomloco.com.