Oh London. London, London, London. Songs have been written about you, poems penned and odes um… oded. Some celebrate your majesty, others your darker side, but whatever is to be said about London it's certainly unique.
I was born and grew up in this, the largest city in Europe. After 15 years overseas my return was both romantic and daunting and I finally realised just how difficult a place it can be for those who arrive from elsewhere.
I've lived in a lot of cities around the world and, while almost anywhere else you can rock up to a bar on your own and generally meet people with relative ease, London has a certain aloof that can bewilder the most confident and stoic amongst us.
This is particularly true if you're single. Try standing in a bar on your own and not to feeling as if people think you're just a little weird. But there is a solution. Whether or not you're desperately looking for the one, the erstwhile outsider will struggle to find a better way to meet people than Speed Dating.
So here are the five best reasons for trying speed dating in London in 2013, particularly if you're not from around here.
5) Everyone is there to meet someone!
Speed Dating is the great leveller. That girl you think is too gorgeous to speak to in the bar? You have four minutes to chat and seriously, she is just as nervous. That guy who seems so aloof and confident among his friends while you sip on your white wine alone feeling desperately self-conscious? He's next up.
4) It's not just about potential romantic encounters
I have a friend who lived in Berlin and would come to London on business twice a month Every time he was here he would come speed dating. His reason? Why sit alone in a busy bar hoping beyond hope that you'll strike up a decent conversation without being accosted by Pete the local drunk when you can meet 15-20 people and then head out into the night together to continue the evening. This friend stopped coming after 4 events - He'd made a group of friends through speed dating that he caught up with every time he was in town. And now that he's moved here permanently he stepped right into a ready-made social scene.
3) You're not the only one
The number of people I've spoken to at events who tell me they've just moved here. Even more surprising is the number of people they meet who are from the same place they are. Okay, this can be a blessing and a curse but it certainly won't be boring.
2) Insider knowledge
London is vast and filled with secret gems - That beautiful underground club, the pop up art gallery or cinema, the comedy venue in a disused public toilet (Shepherds Bush if you're wondering). Everyone has their favourite London secret and people are happy to share their knowledge. The more people you meet, the more you will learn about your adopted home.
1) Because it's fun!
London can be an unforgiving place and, particularly if you've moved down for work, the novelty of going out with colleagues wears off very quickly. Give yourself a break, let your hair down, take a deep breath and come meet some people! It's that simple.
So there you go. Welcome to London. It's not as big and scary as it at first appears, and book yourself in to one of Original Dating's Speed Dating events. We promise you won't be disappointed.
Why not check out our forthcoming London speed dating events now..
WORDS BY Andrew Summersgill