There is a very specific struggle of the human spirit, a kind of universal phenomenon that happens every year on the 14th of February. Widely known as ‘Valentine's Day’, this celebration of love sees an unusual rise in reports of Tight-Fisted Syndrome (TFS), also known as Type 1 Cheapskatism. While not life threatening, TFS is a serious condition that must be vigilantly treated with bargains and scrupulous penny counting, but with the exorbitant cost of red roses combined with the unspoken expectation of a lavish date or other display of affection, the commercial extravagances of Valentine's Day can be extremely challenging to TFS sufferers.
In show of support, I have compiled a list of top five cheap or free dates happening around Auckland this Valentine's Day to help these silent sufferers make it through the day’s celebrations with a happily romanced lover and a pleasantly relieved wallet.
Indulge your sweet muffin in a day of industrial hipster glory, traipsing along the train tracks of Silo Park for the very romantic Valentine's Day markets. Starting from 12:00pm and completely free to attend, you’ll be free to walk arm-in-arm with your other half and eye up some gorgeous tokens of affection at bargain prices while you sip on a caffeine-infused love potion.
The glory of free entertainment continues into the evening for my TFS friends, as Silo Cinema kicks in with its annual Valentines Day screening of The Princess Bride. Accompanied by outrageously delicious street food and the Silo Park container bar to pour your sweetie a craft beer or fancy wine, sit back and enjoy the classic tale of giants, an evil prince and a beautiful princess, knowing full well you paid the least amount possible for your day of romance. Give yourself a pat on the back, TFS-ers.
“I want to attend a glorious ball and dance until the stars fall from the sky,” she says. “That sounds impossibly expensive,” your poor, TFS-wearied purse strings gulp. Not exactly, as vintage store Absolutely Trashed prepares to take over The Lumsden this Valentines Day for a most romantic Prom Night. At just $10 a pop, you can dance the night away with your Valentine to the sweet live sounds of electronica-induced love and surrounded by a series of art installations, from photography, painting and sculpture to performance and street art by a bevy of local artists. Falling of the stars not guaranteed.
For extreme sufferers of TFS, a cheap date may still result in severe side effects. The jangling of coins in pockets where once there were notes may cause shortness of breath, dizzy spells and hallucinations of bankruptcy. The only known treatment is a pure and absolutely free date. In this instance, one might prescribe a romantic gesture of the exotic kind in the form of Latin sensation Kantuta. Playing for free at picturesque Cockle Bay as part of Auckland Council’s Music in Parks, Kantuta is an eight-piece band that is bound to sweep your lover up in a unique whirlwind of salsa, merengue and modern Latin. With dance performers in tow, kick back and soak up the love fiesta that is your romantic yet utterly free Valentines Day celebration.
The fanatical embrace of free entertainment needn’t stop yet. This Valentine's Day, Ellerslie Racecourse is hosting the completely and utterly free Avondale Cup and Guineas Race Day. Spend the day cosied up on a picnic blanket with heart-shaped sandwiches and unopened non-alcoholic love potion (brought from home, of course). Or impress your other half (if that impresses them) and indulge your competitive streak as you bet – not with actually money but simple glory, of course – on your pick of the horses thundering around the track. Whatever your race day style, the afternoon sun will never feel sweeter than when basking in the unadulterated bliss of free and awesome entertainment with fast horses and your significant other.