Speed dating. Amongst the large majority of us these two words conjure up scenes of awkward forced conversations between socially inept desperate 30 something year olds with physical or emotional defects worthy of a Judd Apatow movie.
Like the idea that a videogame bar is only full of young spotty faced male virgins (spoiler: we get more girls in our bars than guys), speed dating’s stigma seems to completely miss the mark.
Let me backtrack though. Years ago I wanted to host a Speed Dating night at the Mana Bar, except instead of just throwing couples together at random tables I thought to get them playing a game together for a short period of time. 7 minutes at Wii Sports? Mario Kart? Guitar Hero? I think you find out a lot about a person depending on how competitive/cooperative they are when playing multiplayer games.
I had planned to go speed dating under the pretence of ‘research’, but due to the decision to open the second bar in Melbourne, the whole idea took a bit of a back seat.
The concept of going speed dating stuck with me though. I was intrigued.
It wasn’t until I recently moved state (again) that the idea resurfaced, only this time I actually decided to follow through. Predominantly because I want to try and expand the friends I have in Sydney outside of the gaming industry (I miss Brisbane sometimes), combined with the fact I haven’t traditionally dated anyone in years, and also because I like the idea of doing things that might put me out of my comfort zone.
And so it was, on a Saturday night I found myself in a trendy restaurant/bar in the city, clipping on a nametag and going on a series of 15 dates.
So let’s breakdown some misconceptions shall we?
All of the women were lovely. All of them. As far as I could tell, there was no-one particularly crazy or completely off the rails, the only ‘date’ coming anywhere close to a speed dating parody was an Asian girl who was constantly on her mobile, apologising as she had to respond to work messages.
I’m not exactly an anti-social person at the best of times, so all the conversations flowed quite naturally, though at a much faster speed. Some conversations leaned towards the typical ‘what do you do’, ‘where are you from’ questions, but the majority felt more like I was bouncing around from table to table chatting with people at a large party. The best conversations were the ones that didn’t really seem to be about anything in particular.
At the beginning of the night you’re given a sheet where you write the name of each person, and in the tick box choose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on how your 7 minutes went. If you both ticket yes on each other, the speed dating company will send you both each other’s contact details to go from there. I think it’s generally accepted that you shouldn’t be too obvious filling these in – or accidentally leaving your sheet behind as you moved on. Like I did.
Did I mention the night also offered unlimited sparkling white wine?
By the time I got round to girl number 15 (another first timer), I was well and truly sloshed, and we spent most of our 7 minutes summing up the whole experience to each other, laughing and being generally stupid. We both ticked yes.
The only concern in my eyes is from the other side – one of the guys I briefly spoke to during the mingling before the event started was a seasoned speed dating veteran. He gave a whole bunch of tips regarding what you should and shouldn’t say, and indicated at that point which girls in the room he’d be ticking yes to. My only solace was that any of the ladies in the room would be able to pick this guy as a douche well within the 7 allocated minutes.
Overall, I had a really fun night, and based on the responses I got I’m looking forward to adding some more friends to my Sydney social circle.