Jay Ellis knows a thing or two about bromances. Whether it’s as his character, Lawrence, on the HBO Show Insecure, in one of the many other roles he’s had over the last few years, or in his off-screen life with his best friends that he’s had for years (who all try and take an annual trip together), it’s safe to say he knows what it takes to make a true bromance work. So we asked him how to craft the ultimate bromantic weekend.
Before we get to that, though, we had to ask him how he defined a “bromance.” With media and society as a whole portraying the showing of feels by men (especially to other men) in a variety of ways, we had to know Ellis’s thoughts on the matter.
For Ellis, it’s pretty simple.
“It’s having love and respect for somebody you vibe with,” he says. “You love your boys like you love your family members. They’re there for you (and you’re there for them) in good times and bad times. It’s somebody you can grab a beer with, but it’s also someone who you’ll go see when they graduate or have a birthday party.”
Sometimes, Ellis adds, it’s as simple as being the guy who’ll call to see how you’re doing. They key — like in any good relationship — is being able to have open communication and the ability to feel vulnerable.
If you realize you’ve got a guy or group of guys in your life that you do this with, great! You’re ready to take a bromantic vacation together. It’s time to ditch the significant others and the real world problems.
But where do you go? What do you do?
Picking a Destination
“For our trips, we try to go somewhere that none of us have been,” Ellis says. The last place his group went was Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
“When you put everyone on a neutral playing field, it allows everyone to forget what’s going on in their lives for a second. That way people can drop their walls and just talk. There’s something really interesting about that,” he explains.
The even playing field also frees up any one person from having to play host or tourist. Everyone is exploring together, creating a bond and, hopefully, lasting memories.
With the destination picked, then, the next thing to do is decide on what you’re doing while in this new place.
Ellis and his friends like to each pick an activity. For him, that usually means something that fits more into the “active” and/or “extreme sports” categories. It could be scuba diving or paragliding or rock climbing — regardless, Ellis is about it. It could, he adds, even get more extreme than that.
“I’m the guy who’s like, ‘Let’s go cage dive with sharks!’”
Which he has. He’s also jumped out of a plane three times now — an activity which he says he’s done with. “I’d never do it again because I think the odds are against me at this point,” he admits.
When asked which was more scary, Ellis opts for the plane, because he saw it as a situation with more unknowns. For the sharks, at least, he knew what he was getting into. “I saw the cage, I made my decision, I jumped in,” he says. The jumping out of planes, though, is another story.
“I don’t know what the actual stats on shoots opening or not opening are; malfunctions happen all the time. I don’t know why, but the cage just seemed safer to me. If a shark took my arm, I could still live, but if the shoot doesn’t open, well …”
This type of extreme activity, he says, helps to enhance the weekend because of the bond it creates between you and the other people. “It’s great to overcome obstacles and fears with your friends.”
After a day (or even just a morning) of activities — especially when you have to consider whether or not you said you loved your mother — you’re going to need to eat.
Food and Drink
During the day, he says, Ellis likes to keep it local — it could be a particular dish that the locals enjoy or just indulging in the street food (as he did in Hanoi, Vietnman, where he says the amount of street food will blow your mind). At night, it’s a different story.
A bromance needs something a little bigger.
“I like celebrating — if you want to call it that — around a good meal at the end of a day. It allows my friends and I to talk about what we did during the day and reflect on it more.”
A nice meal isn’t complete without a good drink. For Ellis, that usually means cocktails. “I love something smooth, something with flavor, but I also love things that have a history to them as well. I love being able to learn how the spirit is made and where it comes from, all of that.”
One of the spirits he’s been into lately is Mount Gay XO rum. Made in Barbados at the oldest rum distillery in the world, Ellis says he was recently able to really dig in and enjoy the spirit while in Telluride, Colorado, to help kick off Mount Gay’s new campaign, “Time Well Spent,” which, if you ask us, is the perfect summation of an excellent weekend of bromance?
So, where are you going to go on your next bromantic adventure? Let us know in the comments. (If you need some suggestions, check out this list.)