Yes, I did in fact go to a speed-dating event. To give a little background to this, sometime around last september my whirlwind but overall rather short-term romance with the yank ended on a somewhat disillusioned note. The disillusionment part was not so much because I thought I had actually found a relationship that worked, as because I had been starting to think I was a half-decent judge of character. In summary kids, I am often wrong. In any case, this did not improve my opinion of relationships in general, and probably makes it even less likely that I would get involved in one without a damn good reason. So why go to an event that is intended to start such?
Well for a start, the premise is hilarious. For anyone unfamiliar with this concept, the idea is that you go to a venue, are seated next to a complete stranger of the opposite gender, and given 3 minutes to converse. At the end of that time, a whistle blows, he stands up and moves to the next girl, and another one sits down with you, wash, rinse, repeat. This generally involves about 20 pairs, and so lasts an hour. At the end of each session, you make notes about the person you spoke to, so that later you can go to the website and enter “Yes”,”No” or “Friend” next to the name of each person. If you put down a Yes or Friend vote for anyone and they put the same for you, you get each other’s contact details.
Aside from the fact that the idea is bizarre, it also generates a unique and interesting social situation situation. 180 seconds in which to not only judge someone else but present yourself. No normal exchange can be crammed into that amount of time, even a short chat with a stranger in a bar would take ten minutes. You need to answer quickly, and ask questions that actually reveal something of the person next to you. In that very limited amount of time things like speed of response become important. If I ask someone what their favourite hobby is and they spend 2 minutes telling me why they are an Everton fan, it can be really frustrating listening to that and knowing that they might actually be an interesting person but that I will not get to find out.
Overall I found it interesting as a social experiment, but slightly dull as an experience. The dullness may be more to do with my complete lack of both nervousness and tolerance than anything else though. The people I met varied from deathly boring, to entertaining and chatty, right through to utter sleazy scum. I have no idea what anyone thought of me, suffice it to say that about 2 people into the process I got a little bored and started to inject a note of randomness into the conversation. I just about managed to refrain from making “So, what level do you play guitar hero on?” my opening line. My favourite moments from the event include:
Me: So, whats your favourite hobby?
Guy: Em…. (Pause of about 10 seconds, a long time in this game. Laughs a bit as if he is humouring a lunatic.) Hobby?
Me:Yes, hobby, pastime, extracurricular activity, personal method of entertainment of some kind?
Guy: Wow, no-one has ever asked me about that.
Me: Really? I would have thought it a fairly obvious question… Well, what _is_ your favourite hobby?
Guy: I just have so many….. (more laughing, and some beard-stroking.)
Me: Ok then, forget hobbies, Batman or Superman?
Me: Batman or Superman? Like, in a fight, who would win?
Guy (looks amused in a dumb sort of way): Eh, I don’t know that one
Me: Ok, well who would you guess?
Me: Oh really? Why is that?
Guy: He looks good, I like the outfit.
Or, definitely the highlight of my evening…
Me: So, who is your favourite superhero?
Guy: Em, what?
Me: Superhero, you know, comic books, cartoons, batman, spiderman, superman?
Guy: Eh, football I suppose. Yeah, football
I am rarely speechless but that one kinda floored me a bit.
In summary, if you are reasonably shallow and also charming/attractive then this is definitely for you. If it takes you longer than 3 minutes to even contemplate liking someone, or you are after a partner who is particularly clever, then I would only recommend attending one of these out of sheer boredom or vague curiousity.