The dating world can be a daunting place. Nightmarish stories of dates gone wrong can deter some people from wanting to get out there and “play the field” at all. Finding a perfect, or even a decent, match can sometimes seem like an impossible task. However, an increasing number of dating options have recently become available. Single folk no longer have to rely on friends for a “blind-date” set-up, and the search for a potential mate has become a very pro-active and personal challenge.
Speed-dating is, perhaps, one of the newest forms of date-selection to be introduced. The event runs almost like a relay-race, with daters switching partners at three to five minute interval. Within the five minutes they have on each “date” participants do their best to share something about themselves that will pique the interest of the other person.
As the evening progresses, each participant fills out a form noting observations they made, and first impressions they had, of each mini-date. A check-box at the end of the form gives the dater’s final decision – “yes” or “no” as to whether or not they feel a second date might be a good idea. Once everyone has dated everyone else in the room, the organizers collect the forms and look for any matches that have been made. If two people have checked off “yes” for one another, the organizers give the successful daters each other’s contact information. After that, it’s in their hands and a simple e-mail could lead to the next rendez-vous.
A speed-dating event was held at Bishop St. Pub last Thursday evening. One of the organizers, Ingrid Bauer, said the event was a fundraiser for a stage play being produced by Montreal theatre company Untimely Ripped Productions. The play, Tecumseh As A Doorstop, opens at Theatre Ste. Catherine this week.
“We needed money to fund our play so we decided to do some different things, and speed-dating sounded like something that was going to be fun, and that we could involve our friends [in],” Bauer said.
Because speed-dating is a relatively new practice, organizers Ingrid Bauer and Jamey Ordolis were able to make up the rules for their particular event.
“We decided the age range,” Bauer said, “which was 21 to 35. And then we decided that the girls would stay stationed at different spots, and the guys would mix around. At every three, or five minutes we decided they would change positions,” Bauer said.
Bauer said she thinks the speed element relieves some of the pressure for the daters.
“It’s so non-committal…you talk to someone for three minutes, and if you never want to see them again you don’t really have to,” she said.
Bauer noticed that the majority of the participants at Thursday’s event seemed pretty nervous. It was difficult, she said, to convince some people to come out and try this new way of meeting single people. These days it is so easy to meet people through the computer and keep them at a distance that some shy away from the face-to-face contact of old-fashioned dating.
“When you get on-line you get to check your answer, think about it, and erase it again.” Bauer said. “[With] speed-dating you’re right there, you can’t bluff. Your eye contact is there, you’re looking at the person, you’re feeling the ambience.. it’s very real. I think a lot of times people miss that”
Bauer seemed to feel that there is a certain honesty lacking in the way people go about dating these days.
“It’s either ‘I’m in a club and I look cool’, or ‘I’m on-line and nobody knows what I look like,'” she said.
One participant, Mahalia, was speed-dating for the second time at the Untimely Ripped event on Thursday. She said she finds it, “more interesting than the on-line experience.”
The personal contact is something Mahalia appreciates about speed-dating.
“The person is right in front of you. You get to observe their body language, you see what they look like.it’s like a direct exchange.”
Although some people may find the nature of having a whole event set-up around dating to be somewhat contrived, Mahalia said she finds the setting helps to ease some of the usual tension felt on a furst date.
“You’re in a room with people who are going through the same thing as you are. So in that sense it’s like ‘Okay, we’re all in the same boat, so we might as well just go for it and whatever happens, happens,'” she said.
Mahalia said she found the three minute time limit at Thursday’s event didn’t give her a chance to learn too much about any of the dating potentials there, but she said she would be interested in meeting up with a couple of the people again in order to find out more about them. Overall, she found the experience was positive and it is something she would do again.
“I think what’s good about it,” she said, “is getting out of one’s comfort zone. Once you settle into your everyday routine you have less of an opportunity to take risks and to open yourself up to other possibilities. An event like this allows you to do that.”
When asked if she would host another speed-dating event, organizer Ingrid Bauer said Untimely Ripped already has one in the works.
“The next thing we’re going to do is ‘Gay speed-dating,'” Bauer said. She hopes the turn-out for the second event will be even better than the first, and that the match-making trend will continue to succeed!