I agree with L. Spiro. I usually take this approach in every walk of life (be it academic, work, social). Thing is work with the best, because you can learn from them.
where experienced programmers I knew were more silent and not social
If experienced programmers are very anti-social, I guess it could be a problem. Though showing them that you are eager to learn generally helps. I had this superior once who was always easily angered, wanted to do things very quickly, and was very unpopular with the juniors (but not the superiors). Once I showed him that I was willing to learn, he softened up, and I learned buttsload of stuff from him.
These experienced ones generally have even more 'romantic view' as you say - they love what they do so much that they actually want to work with them all the time. What I do is show that I have the common interest in the field and they usually also get excited once I show I have the same viewpoint as them. At least, this works for me