East Bay women celebrate 20 years of monthly Girls Night Out meetup

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- It can be hard to maintain friendships as time passes, especially in a pandemic. But as group of East Bay women celebrate a big milestone this month, they are proving it's more than possible, with a little planning.

There's nothing like a set table, the smell of food, and the sound of friends. A get together like that is a feat to pull off nowadays, especially for four friends with busy lives.

Preparing traditional Armenian dishes at the Armenian Church where they all met, they are making girl's night happen. And they've been making it happen every month for the last 20 years.

"We had this great, great night together," says Kim Bardakian. "And at the end of the night, I turned to the girls and I said, 'Why don't we do this every month? Why don't we get together and do something every month?' And that was the seed for what now has become 20 years of Girls Night Out."

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Did they expect it to last two decades?

"No," says Nicole Vasgerdsian. "Absolutely not. Especially since the second activity we did was to do returns at the Nordstrom Rack."

Thankfully they turned things around and GNO, or Girls Night Out, was officially born. Over the years Kim Bardakian Nicole Vasgerdsian, Katherine Sarafian and Annette Boyd-Kevranian have done Salsa Dancing, toured San Quentin, took some swings in batting cage, and even a visited the firing range. Not everyone enjoyed everything.

"The ones that I did not enjoy were San Quentin," Vasgerdsian recalls. "Which I love," Bardakian says.

"We learned to fire a firearm," Sarafian remembers.

"Jeez," quipps Boyd-Kevranian.

"I did not enjoy that," Sarafian says.

On the second Monday of every month, these ladies come together for an activity that costs $20 or less.

They take turns planning, the activity can't be repeated and they can't miss a month.

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"There have been times you can imagine through the years where it's late," Bardakian says. "It's you're tired from a long day work. But you go, you may even be grudgingly go. There has never been a time that I've left our Girls Night Out not smiling or feeling better."

When COVID-19 hit 18 years in, the ladies kept GNO going, the pandemic only reinforcing the importance of this monthly meetup.

"We've gone through relationships and having kids ups and yeah ups and downs," Vasgerdsian says. "And just knowing that I don't have to explain this to anyone that I'm going out with my friends once a month is, you know, this happens."

While it takes a lot of planning, consistency and commitment, these friends are grateful they put in the work.

"I think a lot of the things that I thought I'd be able to maintain in my friendships from childhood, they just didn't because I just sort of assumed it would all work out," Sarafian says. "And it just kind of takes some work takes some planning. No, it's not magic."

But 20years of moments like these are.

"If there was one word that you would use to describe Girls Night Out, what would it be?" asked ABC7 News Anchor Kumasi Aaron. "It's beautiful," Bardakian says. "And I'm so proud of it, and I'm proud of what we've done. I know it's more than one word but I'm proud of our 20 years and God willing we will go 20, 30 more."

A decades long dedication to friendship, through whatever life may bring.

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