At a speed dating event in August, $25 bought participants about 25 dates with strangers, each about five minutes long.
When the first blind dates started, it didn’t take long before some people – especially men – tried to get out of line so they could talk to the person they were most attracted to.
“Here’s a seat,” said one of the event organizers as he steered a wayward visitor back into the designated stream.
Speed dating is no easy feat and requires the conversational skills of a filibuster champion, the brevity of an auctioneer and a positive mood to combat the boredom of repetition. Drinks were encouraged.
“I’m a very personable person – I hate texting, I love phone calls,” said N’Dack Fleming, 28, who added she was ready to put her ‘hookup phase’ behind her. “So I thought, OK, this experience is a very personal experience.”
The event, called We Met in Real Life, was created by Maxine Williams as a balm for those who have found it difficult to navigate a sometimes unsavory dating scene in New York City, where endless swiping and lukewarm flings turn off even the most introverted. can convince that it is time to leave the apartment. This summer, We Met in Real Life was just one of many events that pushed singles into the real world and united them through common interests or kitschy themes, sometimes the more contrived the better.
Singles events have long asked people to place their hopes for romance in the hands of strangers, offering attendees – if nothing else – the chance to get out of their comfort zone. Many of these events held in New York this summer focused on activities, such as ax throwing, or shared interests, such as a love of reading.
At a singles party for queer people of color hosted by the queer collective Raw Honey at the Sultan Room in Brooklyn last month, more than 200 attendees showed up to kick off cuffing season. Everyone was asked to choose a colored wristband: red indicated you were just there to make friends, yellow identified you as polyamorous, and green meant you were single and looking to mingle.
Gabrielle Hitchens, the collective’s founder, said she knew it could be difficult for queer people of color “to find each other and connect,” so she wanted to provide them with a destination where they could do this in a festive setting . Between dancing and drinking, many in the crowd seemed to hit it off, with at least one couple confirming they had a date planned in the coming days.
Cambria Evans moved to New York City in 2021, and she said she hadn’t yet been able to fully explore the queer community as a bisexual woman in Brooklyn. When she saw a flyer for the Raw Honey event on Instagram, she thought it would be a great way to get out of her comfort zone.
“I saw some people who I was definitely attracted to, but I was definitely too shy to talk to them,” Ms. Evans recalled a few days after the party, which she attended alone. “I do things one thing at a time.”
A brightly lit room in Williamsburg full of dog treats, toys and kibble may not be the most obvious setting for flirting and romance. However, dozens of people gathered last week at Boris & Horton, a dog-friendly cafe in Brooklyn, to do just that.
It was a “Must Love Dogs” singles mixer hosted by the Blink Date, a dating app founded by Taly Matiteyahu which schedules 10-minute phone appointments for its members with potential matches. There was a lot of fun among the dozens of guests, but at first it was mainly the dogs who introduced themselves.
Vladimir Manosalvas, who called himself “single like a Pringle”, said he came to the event only with the intention of meeting dogs and only dogs: “Dogs are love, dogs are life and even though I love people, I came mainly to this mix-and-match event for the dogs.
Allie Shoemaker, who was at the cafe with her two dogs, Itty Bitty and Doodle, came to the event looking for a possible match, but didn’t have high expectations. She quoted a Carrie Underwood song that summed up her dating experience: “The more guys I meet, the more I love my dogs.”
“The peace that I feel now, that I always wanted to feel with a partner, I feel with them, and that’s okay,” she said.
It’s safe to say that many of us still long for a classic meet-cute that online dating can’t achieve. Singles mixers hang the idea that you might find the one (or at least the person you want to captivate this fall and winter) over drink specials and a niche theme. All you need is an event link so you and your future partner are in the right place at the right time.
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