Thursday, 8 November 2012

Speed Dating: Who, Why & Wear

There’s music playing in the background. Twenty-five tiny tables are lined along the lounge. A place card sits on each table. Romantic lighting, of the candle-light-flicker variety, illuminates the supper club. A woman sits at each of the tables while the males are huddled by the bar. They seem more relaxed with a drink in hand compared to the women who sit nervously in solitude at their own tables. The bell rings and the men scatter to find the table with the place card to which they’ve been assigned. At once the music gets blocked out as twenty-five conversations fill the space, all among strangers who now have 2.59 minutes to earn a checkmark under YES.
Image courtesy of 49st. A speed dating event
squeezes in an additional line of tables
in the aisle and eliminates all dinnerware.

Upon returning from the event, the first question asked was “were there any normal people?” and “who goes to these things?” This got me thinking about what exactly was “normal” and who defined it?
Female attendees: Most women were 30 years old and above with five being under 27. The age brackets for the event were 25-35. Most were looking to meet someone. Some women mentioned that they were nervous about what to say in their three minutes and others were looking for something different to do on a Thursday night.
Male attendees: Many were in the IT field. Surprisingly, most were able to engage in a conversation. I had expected nervous and fidgety men, I guess. They weren’t creepy, except for Mr. I-Can’t-Make-Eye-Contact-Ever, Mr. SmirksALot who seemed to wink at everything and Mr. JobInterview.
I tried to ask out-of-the-ordinary questions and most of the conversations seemed like casual bar talk - without the spark but still friendly. (Too fast-paced to flirt? Too time-pressured to flirt? Not the environment for a love at first sight feel? All to be discussed in Matched... now what?) Most of the male attendees seemed evenly divided by first timers and repeat daters. The repeat daters admitted that they couldn’t do this every week because it was exhausting to meet so many people in a fast-paced environment. One patron said he didn’t “remember the first five girls and forgot to write anything down”. It was indeed an effort to remember the first few after the fourth or fifth person, causing my note-taking to become more frequent. People do tend to blur after a while.
All in all, the gender dynamic seemed to play in this manner: Men had the opportunity to talk to women whom they would have otherwise been too intimidated to talk to. Women conversed with men whom they might have previously never given the time of day.

Most of the men stated that they were there to meet people. Some used the euphemistic phrase of “meet new friends” and later stated that they were “looking to date” and “find someone”. Most of the guys mentioned that they wanted to date but said that they were open to meeting new people and “taking it from there”, to “see where it goes”. There was a lot of groupon love that night as almost everyone whom I met had used the groupon offer for a half off price.
Outside of speed dating and in conversations will male friends and acquaintances, when asked about their opinions on speed dating many felt that it would be a great place for men to hook up based on the assumption that the women attending are actually looking for male companionship. Of course not all men are looking to hook up and only in conversing with them after the match is made can you find out more about their intentions and the potential of the contact.
Interesting reasons:
“I just got out of a messy relationship where I broke it off with my fiancée.”
“I lost a bet with a friend and so she made me come to this speed dating event.”
“I’m trying to get out there again because your social circle shrinks when you get older.” (great point; future blog post on this ;)
“I’m here to support my friend who is trying to meet new people and get out there.”
“I’m trying to get out there and meet new people because I’m not going to meet someone while watching tv at home.”
Why did I go? To satisfy the curiosity of speed dating in each one of you reading this post right now.
Most of these events try to inform you with ideas on what to wear. For example they tell you to dress like what you would wear on a date or maybe when out for cocktails with friends.
Well the men definitely dressed as if they were on a date. They were fairly well dressed, many in blazers or dress shirts and trousers.
The women were well dressed too, but definitely not as if on a date. I can’t help but feel that each one of the women that night would have been more dressed up if they were on a one-on-one personal date. They were in pants or jeans and blouses or knit cardigans, some in sweater dresses and stockings. This is understandable as women at a speed dating event who dress too provocatively may give off the wrong signal and garner too much attention for the wrong reasons. This would cause you to contemplate the reason as to why you have 25 matches – was it your conversation or cleavage? Women were dressed modestly, probably saving their flare for the real date.
What did I wear? Leather jacket, black and white sweater dress with boots and a statement necklace. Chic.
Next up in the series:
Do's and Don'ts of Speed Dating
Matched... now what?

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