I’m not normally a cynical person but sometimes the day to day can become mundane. Yesterday I had one of ‘those days’. Work was slow, bills were flowing in, the writing side of my brain wasn’t working properly and I essentially spent 8 hours staring at a computer screen. All I wanted to do was head home, eat pizza, drink wine and watch some rubbish on Netflix.
But I had to host an event so this was off the cards. Don’t get me wrong. I genuinely love running speed dating nights in London. Even when tired it picks me up a little. But at 3pm yesterday afternoon I wasn’t in the best of moods. By 8pm things had changed. Massively. Let me tell you why.
In recounting the tale of last night, this post is also something of an advice piece. Advice on how to speed date successfully. Or as the title says: 5 Reasons Why Last Night a Speed Date Saved My Life
5) Venue: It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to
Venues generally fall into 2 categories. Those who don’t care who’s in the bar as long as they’re spending money. And those who see value in their customers. Last night was the latter.
This works really well during breaks and after the event. Staff are happy to chat and engage. Be nice to them. It shows awareness of those around you and a level of confidence attractive to both sexes. Being able to utilise great staff prevents awkward silences while waiting for a drink and means you get to focus on chatting to like-minded singletons.
4) Listen up soldier
The most commonly asked question for speed dating in London is ‘what do I talk about?’ 50% of talking is about listening. Listening will give you exactly the right answer to the question of what topic. The combination of busy but spacious venue, a politely up for it crowd and a genuine fascination with this weirdness called speed dating meant that last night’s event was rife with conversational discovery. The acoustics were perfect for listening. Those dating were up for responding.
3) Curiosity Killed The Cat – You’re not a cat. Probably
Speed dating has gone through a number of changes since it hit London 12+ years ago. It started out as a novelty, briefly flirted with being trendy, sank for a while into the category of ‘sad but necessary’, rose back again to be ironically hip and now claims its rightful place as simply a great way to meet like-minded singles in London.
It’s okay to find the whole thing curious. Be curious about the night. Be curious about the thoughts of others thoughts on the night. Be curious about others full stop. Acknowledging exactly where you are and perhaps how odd it seems really helps to break the ice. Last night, conversations were full of phrases such as ‘I’ve never done this before’, or ‘this is easier/more fun/less weird that I thought it would be’. You get the picture. Breaking down that fourth wall relaxes everyone and takes away any potential oddness.
2) Keep on movin’
It’s awkward leaving a date, particularly if you feel you’ve made a connection. But it’s called speed dating for a reason. You get four minutes to assess whether you’d like to chat more or not. Last night’s gentlemen were exactly that. Gentlemen.
When I called ‘next date’ they responded. This is particularly important as it shows respect to those around you. The others guys don’t get the hump, you don’t look like a selfish idiot (not attractive), and your next date isn’t left waiting like an over ripe gooseberry.
It also means the event finished on time meaning greater opportunities to catch up properly without having other gents glaring at you and the host politely standing behind you making a cheap joke about it being ‘speed dating not M25 dating’.
1) The people – Sticking around!
Let’s be honest. We can provide the best venue with the best drinks, the best staff, the best matching system, the best hosts (ahem!), but ultimately, if the people who come to the event aren’t up for it, the evening won’t be that memorable. At least not for the right reasons.
Last night I was lucky enough to host an event full of awesomeness. Seriously. Everyone was up for a chat. Everyone was looking forward to the event. Shyness was not on the cards. It made my job a little redundant. When that happens I deem the evening a success.
So what advice do I give in the face of awesomeness?
Be like last night’s speed daters. Open, honest, ready to chat. Speed dating is odd. Let’s be honest. Most people who take the leap, for that very reason are naturally sociable. You’re in good company and everyone is in the same boat. Grab a drink and chat to people. You’ll make others feel relaxed which will in turn relax you.
And after the event? About 20 people pushed together some tables and carried on chatting until closing. To be honest, it’s after the event that real meets happen. The four minutes is a taster. Don’t rush off once all dates are done. Stick around like last night’s crew. Numbers were exchanged. Platonic and romantic connections made. And it happened there and then.
I got to go home (late!) knowing that everyone, myself included, had fully enjoyed themselves and all my guests took full advantage of the evening.
This is why last night a speed date saved my life.
WORDS BY JOHN DAVIS