We’ve been running singles events a long time now and we ran our first lock and key party 10 years ago in 2004. Since then we’ve run well in excess of 2000 events but still to this day we feel a surge of excitement when party day comes round. Our most recent party was called the Spring Fling and it took place on Saturday April 12, 2014, this time at the newly refurbished, beautifully boutique Malmaison Hotel on Charterhouse Square in Clerkenwell.
The weeks that lead up to a big party are when we find out if the theme and the venue we’ve chosen is something that chimes with our clients. We listen hard when we receive feedback but we never quite know if we’ve got it right until we release our event online. Fortunately in this case we did get it right and the first bookings came in within minutes which was very reassuring.
Over the coming weeks the event became busy and the female places quickly sold out. Now, here’s in interesting piece of social science I’ve learnt since entering the dating game, girls are much more organised than guys. It seems Women really to like know what their plans are at least a couple of weeks in advance so in the case of our events they book tickets early. Gents on the other hand are quite the opposite and leave things very much to the last minute. It’s not unusual for us to receive calls from several guys on the afternoon of an event pleading to buy a ticket for that night’s party – some even offer to pay double! The trouble is of course that when we’re full, we’re unfortunately full. Book early guys!
In our early days this gender based quirk was terrifying for us as organisers. We genuinely didn’t know if the guys were going to book at all. We’re we going to have a room full of ladies with no guys for them to meet? Fortunately we learnt to hold our nerve and we’ve never failed to bring together a practically equal number of girls and guys at one of our parties.
Anyway, I digress. Last Saturday the big party day arrived and the team and I travelled early to the venue. Lock and Keys at the ready and guest lists loaded to our entry system.
The Malmaison really is a stunning venue and we’d hired their lounge bar. It’s a very stylish venue and really well suited to parties like this.
Our clients started to arrive from 7.30pm and by 8pm most people had arrived. After a short introduction the lock and key icebreaker started in earnest and the atmosphere really became quite exciting. I’d like to explain something about the lock and key icebreaker. If you’ve never been to a one of these parties before you’d be forgiven for thinking it sounds quite odd. We issue all the girls attending with small padlocks and all the guys get keys. In theory it sounds bizarre but as a means of getting a large group of strangers mingling nothing works quite like it. There’s something about this small piece of ironmongery that transforms the most insular, no eye contact Londoner into a social butterfly. The room was alive with people chatting, laughing and flirting – it’s actually brilliant to watch.
We decided some years ago that we’d make speed dating a feature of our parties too. Saturday’s event was no exception. It’s done slightly differently at our parties when compared to our regular events across London but the principle is the same and it’s another great icebreaker which we think adds a lot of value to our party format.
The party went on well into the night and everyone we spoke to had a great time and met a lot of people and loads of phone numbers were exchanged. A unique feature of our parties is the ability to message people you’ve met via our website the next day. Traffic on this system was high and we know a huge number of dates have been organised as a result of the party so it seems once again, we’ve done our job properly.
You might be wondering about the kind of people that attend our events. With this in mind we took a few pictures throughout the night. Unfortunately the camera seems to be somewhat knackered (we’ve ordered a new one for next time) but take a look below and you’ll get the idea.
We’ll be running another lock and key party soon. Check out our site and follow our Twitter feed for details. We hope you can be there! If you’re single, there’s genuinely no better place to meet people!
WORDS BY ANDREW SUMMERSGILL