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Desert Companion

Geek love: Date options for the culture-savvy



Once upon a time, before bar-hopping, before imbibing and ingesting various other substances to the point of hospitalization became au courant, culture was integral to romance, not just part of it. If culture is your own ecstasy, Vegas does not disappoint. Just in time for your annual homage to St. Valentine, her are some date-night options sure to stimulate your other organs.

ºCentury 16 Suncoast Theater. While breathing in secondhand smoke emitted by grandma in a sequined hat might not seem like a quiver from Cupid's arrow, I assure you there's more to be had at some of our locals casinos. For instance, Suncoast hosts the only CineArts theater in town, showing art film and independent movies whose "special effects" are things such as dramatic tension and character development. So dust off your copy of Male and Female and impress your cinephile with an indie movie date. 9090 Alta Drive, Las Vegas, 636-7111, www.suncoastcasino.com

ºBar+Bistro. Situated next to the Arts Factory, Bar+Bistro not only offers a hip dining experience in the heart of the 18b Arts District, but it also plays host to a number of great events. Fridays are the happening night, from people-watching and Latin/jazz/experimental/punk bands on "First Friday" to Camp 107, where diners can immerse themselves in a cult movie experience while noshing on salmon. Your hipster amour will appreciate the novelty of seeing Monty Python and the Holy Grail on the big screen. 107 E. Charleston Blvd. #155, 202-6060, www.barbistroaf.com

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ºVosges Haut-Chocolat at Caesars Palace. Nothing says love like a chocolate-tasting, and there is no faster way to a man's heart than bacon. Only at Vosges (pronounced like vogue) can you have both in one smashing truffle. Entrepreneur/founder Katrina Markoff is one of the most creative chocolatiers in the country, and Vegas is lucky enough to have one of her boutiques. Her truffles engage the senses, delight the palate and transcend the ordinary. After that, it's up to you. Inside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, 3500 Las Vegas Boulevard S., 836-9866, www.vosgeschocolate.com

ºBlack Mountain Institute. Impress your budding intellectual with panel discussions such as "The Future of American Liberalism" (Feb. 24) and "Jazz: America's Gift to the World" (March 24) or readings by both up-and-coming and award-winning authors and poets at UNLV. The Institute also publishes acclaimed literary journal Witness, which should give you more than enough fodder for dinner conversations, if not for an entire relationship. (www.blackmountaininstitute.org/)

ºSprings Preserve. If your date has just moved here from San Francisco, Boulder, Colo., Madison, Wisc. or some other bastions of environmentalist fervor, you're in luck at the Springs Preserve. Stroll amid eco-friendly buildings and native flora, all while learning about LEED Certification and native wildlife. You can also enjoy cooking classes, attend lectures on the environment, visit art galleries and watch eagles, hawks and owls in flight - no animatronics here. 333 South Valley View Blvd., 822-7700, www.springspreserve.org

ºDelgado Dance Studios. Nothing says self-confidence like the willingness to learn a few moves. So go live out your Dancing with the Stars fantasy with the passionate and talented instructors at Delgado, led by the eponymous husband and wife team of Dana and Tony, both former professional dancers and winners of more than 20 nationwide titles in ballroom dance. They have classes in everything from waltz, tango and foxtrot to cha cha, bolero, salsa, swing, hustle and the latest rage, swishflipping (okay, we made that last one up). 4220 S. Grand Canyon Road, 465-5777, www.delgadodancestudios

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