Stumbling and sometimes falling, I guess that's how I'm learning the terms of the trade. Also, in order to save some dignity, I have some basic rules for myself. This should save drama later on as you're likely to meet everyone again in this town.
Of course, I'm still inexperienced and don't pretend to write the definitive work on this. Points of view could vary. I'd love you guys to disagree.
1. Be confident if not outright cocky at all times. If it takes alcohol to get there, so be it. Everyone else drinks like a fish anyway.
2. Don't make a move unless he absolutely blows your mind. People gossip, and watch much more closely than you can ever imagine. Keep it mysterious, keep them guessing. Making a move on someone sub-par defines you to the entire club, the last thing you want.
3. Always be friendly, talkative and polite. You're not making many moves, so you still have to appear open, willing, confident and not aloof if you want others to make them. Besides, making enemies in a small community like the one I'm in could be dangerous.
4. Get to know owners/proprietors of places if you can. They can be sources of incredibly useful information and offer a form of protection: no-one will fuck with a friend of the owner.
5. Dance. It's relaxing, it gives you a chance to show off and people watch the dance floor anyway. Besides, a lot can happen on the dance floor and it's always a plausible escape route. Get some canned heat in your heels tonight, baby. ;-)
6. Be prepared. Bring contact lens boxes if you're willing to go home with someone. Have condoms in stock, whether at home or on you. Cut your nails and check your body for open wounds.
7. Confidence and cockiness will make it easy to maintain control. Keep that control. Don't rush, take the time to consider proposals. Everything has to happen on your terms. Eager is bad.
8. Don't underestimate the depths others will sink to to get what they want. I know of one guy in his fifties chasing a kid of 15. I've been followed to the bathroom to check out my goods. Choose a stall if you don't feel comfortable with staring. Remember, for a lot of people it's just a meat market.
9. Correct your partner in the bedroom if necessary. If you don't like to go too quickly, tell him to slow down. Of course you're here to both have fun, but hey, it's probably a hook-up and you have to think about your own pleasure. Besides, it's another way of exercising control.
10. Forget "out of my league". You don't have a league and shouldn't allow yourself to be boxed in like that. Allow yourself to be surprised. Twenty year-old hottie might not be into twinks his age, even though you were at that stage. Let "not my type" be an individual qualification and not a way to judge whole groups. You might generally not have a thing for type X, but this one guy could be Mr Right.
11. Determine what you don't like at all quickly and don't lead guys on.
12. There's safety in numbers, especially if you're younger and/or somewhat apprehensive about the entire enterprise. Go with friends if you can and look after one another.
I think this will be a running thread, something to update if needed. Any comments are, of course, more than welcome, especially from more experienced people than me.
UPDATE September 12th
13. If I'm not good enough to take home, you're not good enough for me. No parks, garages etc (any more). Determine your destination before walking out the door.
14. Older men have their own particularities. If this is your weakness, you'll have to deal with it. Otherwise, see 11 (I'm glad it's not mine). They will try to manipulate you, wind you around their finger. Only the younger person is entitled to do that, IMHO, and only if all other control mechanisms fail. The good news is: age is their weakness and they know it. Make light-hearted jokes about Viagra, walking sticks and senile dementia if all else fails, always with a smile and a wink though. Needling him is the way to restore control, and he's probably way too excited about closing the deal to care much about what you say. Bonus: drinks are on him.
15. This is an open problem: exchanging numbers. In general, only do this if you wouldn't mind speaking to the person again, but it can raise expectations. I think my position will be "you only get my number if you are actually planning to dial it". There's no point exchanging numbers out of politeness, you might as well make that clear as soon as it comes up. Besides, I don't want my name to be in everyone's cell phone.