Couple in the hay

Photo: Thinkstock/Vincent Besnault

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Throw a barn dance, Sex and the City-style
Who doesn't love a romp in the hay? Square dances aren't for squares—it's like speed-dating to music. Everyone keeps switching partners, which makes the perfect stage to play the country coquette.

Even if you're nowhere near a pasture, you can turn almost any space into a barn burner. Get some hay, hang some stringer lights and paper lanterns and find a square dance caller (or a boisterous friend who's up for the job). Instruct him (or her) to spice up the usual with some flirty commands such as, "Blow a kiss, then allemande right." And "Wink to your partner, then promenade left." These make great icebreakers! You'll want some classic country swing— think Johnny Cash and Bob Wills, but mix it up with some Lily Allen tossed in for fun! Dress flirty-country (pretty, with a dash of unpretentious); the guys will (hopefully) wear tight jeans and a tan—ha!

Get some burlap tablecloths and colorful bandanas for napkins and prepare to stain them with barbecue sauce. Think casual with a little twist, like grilled corn with truffle oil, rosemary chicken Paillard (a fancy name for a chicken breast pounded flat with a hammer). Even grilled ham and turkey sandwiches topped with homemade jam (someone's homemade jam—doesn't have to come out of your kitchen). This is beer night, but go for midtown-meets-hoedown; include high-brow beer cocktails like the Shandy (equal parts beer and ginger beer), the Diplomat (6 ounces chocolate stout, 1 ounce dark rum, 1/2 ounce sherry) and the Michelada (beer, lime juice and hot sauce served in a salt-rimmed glass). And chew on a piece of straw!
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