Date: 31st Jul 03
by Deborah Harris
Is speed dating excrutiatingly embarrassing and populated by weirdos, or a damn good laugh? We sent our intrepid reporter along to find out.
Modern living is hectic, and the nature of our fast-paced lives is reflected in our relationship status: if we're lucky enough to meet someone, and there's a semblance of attraction, it doesn't seem to last more then five minutes.
To combat the tedium of singledom, a Jewish Rabbi from Los Angeles sought to convene eligible young women and men together in a attempt to make love blossom. It was, and still is among more religious Jewish communities, commonplace to create a 'shidduch' (match) between young members of the society. However, the Rabbi recognised the changing nature of the dating process and came up with a modern version of matchmaking, now commonly known as speed dating. It has become increasingly socially acceptable, and is effectively a group blind date.
How it works
Being single, I took the plunge and signed up for a speed dating event. I went along with a couple of my friends - a good idea if you're a first timer. It started at 7pm on a Wednesday evening at a bar in central London, where the host met us as we arrived.
After a few pre-party drinks, we were each given an ID sticker and an allocated number, plus a scorecard. Each man then had to sit by a woman (who was sitting by a letter), and every time the whistle went - every three minutes - the men had to get up and move on to the next letter in the alphabet. Every time you met someone you had to tick the 'yes' or 'no' box by the person's number on your scorecard. Much confusion ensued, but the host helped us out.
Because you're going through quite a few people, quite fast, it's a good idea to make little notes to remind you of the person - a physical characteristic, something about their clothing or something they've said. This will all come in useful later on, especially if you get any positive responses.
Thank God for the three-minute rule, because although there will inevitably be a few people that you'd happily speak to for a lot longer, at the other end of the scale there will be those you can't wait to get rid of. I noticed a few recurring types: the professional speed-dater, who's been so many times he has a list of questions planned out; the person who would happily tick 'yes' against every female's name; and simply the very boring person. My boring person was a dentist, so I used the three minutes to enquire about some dental work I'd been planning to have done!
Different speed dating companies have variations on the three-minute rule, such as the 10-minute rule practised by ladiesexcuseme, where the women are given carte blanche and can select the people they're happy to spend a whole 10 minutes with.
Once we'd met about 20 other speed daters, my friends and I stayed at the venue for a while, chatting to various people. The next day, we had to enter our scores on the Hurrydate website - they're all kept secret - to find out whether we had matched with anyone. If you do have a match, you can contact them through the website without revealing your email address, until you're ready.
The whole experience was a lot of fun, not to mention wild at times, and, surprisingly, it wasn't embarrassing or uncomfortable. But you must remember not to take it too seriously, as nothing is guaranteed. And just like with any other encounter you make, try to be yourself. The great thing about attending evenings like this is that everyone's there for roughly the same reasons - romance or friendship. Speed dating is perfect for anyone who wants to spend an enjoyable night out, without feeling the pressure of a one-on-one blind date.