Normally, summer sees a bit of a slowdown on the speed dating front. And yet, such events are more popular than ever. From funky pop up speed dating in the trendier parts of the city, to quiz and literary speed dating for the more cerebrally celebratory, single Londoners are taking to the format at a rate matched only by our thirst for gin.
To explain why, John gives us his ten reasons speed dating is this summers hottest night out.
1) Up to 20 people you’ve never met
This may sound obvious but at a speed dating event in London you’ll meet between 12 – 20 new people. And unless you’ve come with a friend of the opposite sex, it’s unlikely you’ll have met any of them before.
Think about it. London has the highest proportion of single people aged 23-40 in the country. With hundreds of events each week, the chances of meeting someone you’ve met before are extremely slight.
I sent a single friend out on a mission recently. I set him the challenge of having 15 dates in as short an amount of time as possible. The result? Even when doubling up some evenings and on the weekend it still took him 8 days.
It will only take you two hours.
2) 4 Minutes = Yes or No
What happens if you agree to a 'normal' date with someone and you find you have nothing in common? For the most part, it’s kind of a waste of an evening.
Research tells us it takes between 90 seconds to 4 minutes for us to figure out whether someone is suitable or not. Which is pretty much the length of a speed date.
Don’t like someone? Once you’ve said hello and worked out you’re not compatible you’ve only got 2 minutes at most before the next date. And if you do meet someone you like? See my next point.
3) It's not just about speed
Good speed dating companies will run an event in a private area of a bar. This isn’t just so those not taking part can’t interrupt the night. It’s so that after the event you have space to catch up with those you met before and expand on your conversations.
Chat to as many people as possible. Get to know groups of people better if you like. The rest of the evening is yours to do with as you wish with the added bonus of having already met everyone.
4) It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. And even then it’s not quite over.
Avoid dating companies that offer to match you there and then. It’s can be both embarrassing and there are safety issues to consider. You’ve had a couple of drinks. You’ve said yes to someone you’re really not sure about after the fact. But if you’re matched on the night you can’t change your mind.
The most reputable companies will have an automatic matching system, either online or through an app (or both - see our Mixeo app), which allow you at least 24 hours to reconsider before you’re introduced to someone.
Even better are those companies that have an internal messaging system meaning that, even where you’ve said yes to someone and you’re in contact, leave it up to you whether and when you offer personal details such as an email address or telephone number.
5) You’re not alone
Sometimes it can be embarrassing or intimidating meeting people for the first time. This is particularly true if you’re shy, anxious or have been single for some time.
There are two reasons why speed dating helps avoid these issues.
The first is because good speed date events are facilitated by a professional host. It’s the hosts job to make sure everyone is comfortable, knows what's going on, and is on hand to answer any questions you may have and negate any potentially awkward situations.
Secondly, everyone is in the same boat. There isn’t some coterie of professional speed daters for whom the whole process if a walk in the park. I guarantee that for 99.9% of people, no matter how confident they are, butterflies will always be present, at least in the beginning.
People are there for exactly the same reasons you are. As a result, they’re probably just as reticent.
6) No pressure!
Sure, plenty of matches are made and marriages do occur between people who meet at speed dating events. We at Original Dating celebrated the first such wedding in the country way back in 2004.
But let’s be honest. It’s an odd way to meet people. We’re not going to make it even odder by adhering strictly to the idea that you’re here to ‘meet the one’.
It’s a great idea but speed dating is about having a relaxed, fun night with a group of like-minded people. In fact, I’d be a little wary of anyone that questions your nuptial intentions during a speed date, unless they’re joking of course.
7) You went where?
London has some of the best bars in the world. And yet it can be difficult to know where they are and, even if you do, how to get in.
A good speed dating company will not only know where such venues are but will hold events in them. It’s the perfect way to have a really great night while also checking out some of the city’s best nightspots. Think of it as an insider’s guide that only single people like you have access to. A private members club for singles if you will.
8) Variety is the spice of life
It’s amazing how many couples have met at one of our speed dating events who, on paper, would never have looked twice at each other.
It’s one of the reasons why speed dating is so much better than online and app dating.
You’ll meet a wide range of people, many of whom you’d perhaps never encounter in your everyday life. And I promise, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how different your tastes are to what you believe them to be.
9) ‘If you want to be my lover, you’ve gotta get with my friends’ Um… Sorry
Apologies for that little lapse back to the nineties. What I'm trying to say is that speed dating is not only a great way to meet potential paramours, it’s also a really simple way to get to know people and expand your social group.
I’m yet run an event where people didn’t get together in groups afterwards. In fact, it’s a common occurrence for people to get together and head off to another venue later in the evening. I know this because I’m constantly asked where is best nearby.
The only thing this may not be good for is your head in the morning, but that’s entirely up to you and your willpower.
10) It beats hanging out in the same place with the same people
I’m sure your friends are awesome. They’re your friends after all. But don’t you sometimes wish you weren’t going back to the Dog & Pirate for the fourth week in a row?
Think about it. Meet up to 20 new people (more if you read point 8) in a great new venue while being asked about yourself, getting to find out about others and increasing the possibility of going on a couple of dates in the near future or… Meet friend 1, 2 and 3 who you’ve known for years, talk about work, friends you know everything about already, and why so and so is really winding you up while standing on the same bit of carpet drinking your ‘usual’ to the same tunes on the jukebox.
Okay, I’m being a little unfair. But shake things up a bit. London is too exciting a place not to have a bit of an adventure once in a while. Hell, bring your mates along and make a night of it. At least you’ll have more to talk about next time you’re back at your local.
Sold? Good. Do yourself a favour and book a place at one of our upcoming speed dating nights. There’s plenty to choose from and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
WORDS BY JOHN DAVIS