The New Way to Celebrate Valentine's Day (Trends)

If satin-covered boxes of chocolate, cards with dancing teddy bears and candlelit dinners aren't your style, rejoice: There are now less sentimental ways to observe Valentine's Day, for couples and singles alike. In New York, there's the Black Hearts Party (Blackheartsparty.com)-an annual event where around 500 skeptics gather at a warehouse, clad in black, to drink black drinks, eat black wedding cake, play raunchy games, and write their most memorable love-gone-wrong stories on a big blackboard. "For some people it's a hook-up party, for others it's a way to vent," says Marc Leonard, who threw his first soiree 16 years ago in his college apartment. While couples are welcome (and strongly encouraged to spend the evening mingling rather than staying attached at the hip), singles make up the bulk of the guests. "We've actually had a lot of couples meet at Black Hearts party, and one marriage that we know of," adds Leonard.

Singles who find the Black Hearts a little too dark for their tastes can also dub February 14th International Quirkyalone Day-a holiday conceived of in 2003 that celebrates one's unattached status. "I wanted to celebrate the possibilities people have to be single-the freedom to take your time, be yourself, and enter into romantic relationships out of desire rather than obligation," explains Sasha Cagen, author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantic. Head to Quirkyalone.net to find a gathering in your area, or request their free party pack to throw your own bash (includes nametags, buttons, and flyers to get the word out). Who knows? Maybe you'll meet someone who will be sending you chocolates by next year.

Lisa Cericola is a writer based in New York City. She hates red roses but secretly likes foil-wrapped chocolates.

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