• An "Innsider's" View of Napa Valley

Theme Night

When it comes to couples activities, one of the more interesting is “Theme Night.” Theme Night is a lot like date night, but with a twist. (For the sake of this blog, the twist will be rather generic. Some couples I am sure could get really twisted if they wanted to — but, we have chosen not to go there, much to either your disappointment, or relief.)

Theme night is basic role playing. It doesn’t have to be sexy; it can be just interesting, or fun. Think of this as a couples’ parlor game – just not in the parlor.

Downtown Napa is a great location for dates with a theatrical twist. Locations should be good for conversation, so think Carpe Diem at the bar or 1313 by the fireplace. Sashay into The Thomas at Fagiani’s Bar for a retro speakeasy location (now closed). If you want to go old-school local try Henry’s on Main Street — great for gritty film noir, or maybe blue-collar cops and robbers.


Leave your man waiting for you at either

  • Vermeil Wines Tasting Room. While waiting for your arrival, your man can get his football hookup here, as founder Dick Vermeil took the Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl XV.
  • Bounty Hunter Wine Bar. A great place for the adventurous wine hunter, and maybe for those hunting a connection


  • Angele Restaurant.  A good place to get French. Share a cocktail. Perhaps try the Fallen Apple? A concoction of Slow and low Rye and apple cider.
  • Hog Island at Oxbow. Traditional oysters on the half shel. ‘Nuf said.
  • Oenotri. Salumi. The ultimate finger food (for public).


There are none.

Dress up or not, as your personal script decrees.

Drop in and out of character, or stay strict to a style or script

Be awkward


Feed each other

Share drinks

Plan a different theme for every other month or so

“He played along and invited me to sit down . . .”

One of my more memorable Theme Nights was when I was on vacation with a boyfriend in Key West. I wanted to shop a little without him tagging along, so I sent him to wait for me at an outdoor beach bar. I wandered through the little shops and eventually picked up some bath items and body lotion.

When I arrived at the bar, I approached my boyfriend as though I didn’t know him. “Excuse me, sir is this seat taken?” He played along and invited me to sit down, “Are you on vacation?” “Where are you from?” After a moment of polite chatter, he asked after my purchases. I very flirtatiously described them and what they possibly could be used for, all along pretending that we didn’t know each other. As we had our cocktails, the conversation continued. I was coy, he was interested. Much of what we said was made-up for the moment. I think my name was Blanche and his was Dusty. He was a cowboy from Wyoming. I was a belle from the south.

Eventually, I excused myself for a bathroom break. When I left, unbeknownst to me the gay couple just across the bar from us worriedly interrupted my boyfriend. They were concerned that the nice, naïve Wyoming Cowboy was perhaps in over his head with the massage oil toting sun-kissed brunette.

Melodie Hilton

View posts by Melodie Hilton
Director of Marketing and PR for the Napa River Inn, and long-time Napa resident. Hilton started her career as a journalist, working many years covering food, travel, and news.
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