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The Knowledge

Six Meaningful Man-dates

Make some time for your pals and have fun with these activities. Warning: may cause bromance

In this, the digital age, our friendships are largely maintained via a like on an Instagram post, a retweet on Twitter or a comment on a Facebook update, all made somewhat half-heartedly as we thumb through social feeds on the commute home or during lunch breaks. We are spending less and less time meeting up offline, face-to-face, man-to-man.

But men need friends now more than ever. A recent article in the Pacific Standard claims that male relationships often centre around activities rather than conversations but that “when men have less meaningful friendships with other men, they are less likely to be developing critical skills and the intimate connections that can sustain them outside of romantic partnerships… leaving [them] at even greater risk of isolation.”

While this all might sound a tad melodramatic, it got us thinking... how could we be spending our rare one-on-one time? To help with the planning part (something few of us really enjoy), we’ve put together six hands-on pursuits you and a buddy can do in a day or less, below. So venture from the familiar enfold of your man cave, swap World of Warcraft for the world outside and gather your kinsmen for some old-fashioned male bonding.

Anthropologist and The New York Times’ contributor Dr Lionel Tiger coined the term “male bonding”, noting that historically, close male friendships formed during warfare or hunting. In these more civilised times, modern men often bond over more simulated activities that involve triumph over nature, such as rock climbing. Whether you are new to the sport, or a well-tested veteran, Rockreation Sport Climbing will teach newcomers the ways of the walls or swap training techniques and beta on where to go for your next outdoor trip.

Two-hour Fight Gravity One class, £30/ $45


WHAT TO WEAR

  • Orlebar Brown Perry Mélange-Knit Cotton T-Shirt

  • Patagonia Nine Trails Stretch-Shell Shorts

Remember that band you and your mates started many moons ago, imagining yourselves on stage one day, Fenders blazing, playing to hundreds of screaming fans? Ex-Stranglers guitarist Mr John Ellis may not be able to promise a headline spot on Glastonbury’s Main Stage next year but he can certainly teach a thing or two about the blues. The session takes place in Bloomsbury’s iconic boozer The Perseverence, so you can enjoy a pint while practising hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides and whams before putting it all together and playing classic blues pieces. Guitar not included, but then if you don’t actually own one, what the devil are you doing here?

From 2pm to 6pm, £60/ $90


WHAT TO WEAR

  • Saint Laurent Slim-Fit Checked Cotton and Lyocell-Blend Shirt

  • Balenciaga Slim-Fit Stretch-Gabardine Jeans

The Wright brothers, Biggles and Algy, Maverick and Goose. Many a steadfast friendship has burgeoned in the cockpit. Have your Boys’ Own adventure by booking an introductory flying lesson at Long Island’s Heritage Flight Academy, which includes flight planning, radio communication with the tower, navigation and taking hold of the controls yourself while in the air. If you or your wingman are inspired to officially earn your wings, the company also runs a bachelors of science professional pilot degree course.

Thirty minutes, £80/ $129


WHAT TO WEAR

  • RRL Kruse Shearling Jacket

  • Eyevan 7285 Aviator-Style Metal Sunglasses

Watches are by definition, complicated. As the founder of watch site Hodinkee, Mr Ben Clymer says in our recent Aficionados video, “You can own something on a very superficial level, but to really understand it you have to spend the time doing the research.” Whether it’s a keen interest in the workings of watch movements, or a desire to be able to maintain your own collection, watchmaker Mr Olivier Piguet’s training centre – run from a restored farmhouse in the picturesque Vallée de Joux, the birthplace of Swiss horology – demonstrates how to dismantle and reassemble a movement on you own, while displaying the detail of its mechanics.

From 9am to 5pm, £285/ $450


WHAT TO WEAR

  • Boglioli Rollneck Wool Sweater

  • Hugo Boss Grey Slim-Fit Virgin Wool-Flannel Trousers

Proper shaving, like your father used to do, has become a lost art – the tradition of passing on the secrets of a clean shave all but dying out. But this male ritual is making a comeback with several barbershops, such as London’s Pankhurst, now offering in-house tutorials­. Hair For Men Academy’s Bluebeards Revenge hot towel shave coaches the patterns of hair growth and how to angle and change the blade, encouraging participants to cut their teeth, as it were, on live models.

From 10am to 4pm, £225/ $355


WHAT TO WEAR

  • TOM FORD Slim-Fit Cashmere Sweater

  • rag & bone Fit 2 Slim-Fit Raw Selvedge Denim Jeans

Scuola del Cuoio was founded after WWII by the Franciscan friars of the monastery of Santa Croce, and the Gori and Casini families, Florentine leather artisans since the 1930s. Their mission was to give orphans of the war a means to learn a practical trade with which to earn a living. The school now runs workshops for the general public in which students attend a lecture in the art of leather making before constructing and hand-stitching a cowhide belt and embossing their monogram by the buckle. Just try not to make matching ones. That’s definitely bromance territory.

Six hours, £250/ $395 for two


WHAT TO WEAR

  • Bottega Veneta Plaid Cotton Shirt

  • Theory Zaine Slim-Fit Stretch Cotton-Corduroy Trousers