You may remember a few months ago, a friend and I decided to try out speed dating – and to our surprise actually quite enjoyed ourselves, even though we didn’t meet the men of our dreams. The event was organised by London-based company Original Dating, and although we had fun with the speed dating concept, there were a few hiccups, which I mentioned in my review, and which the company very graciously accepted.
But I’m a great believer in second chances, so when Original Dating offered us the opportunity to try again, I was keen to go back and see if those hiccups were, as I suspected, just one-offs.
This time, we decided to be different and go for one of their themed events – literary speed dating. This is exactly the same as ordinary speed dating, except you can (reasonably) safely assume everyone there has an interest in books, so you always have at least one topic of conversation to fall back on if all else fails. I was a bit anxious that everyone there would be really highbrow, and my action plan of talking about Harry Potter all night was going to spectacularly backfire… but actually it was nice and relaxed, and nobody tried to quiz me about Tolstoy. And funnily enough, I didn’t mention Harry Potter once.
The event was held at Nordic, a cool basement bar in Soho, which had 2 for 1 mojitos all night (that is the most important piece of information about the venue). We had a slight imbalance in numbers, with about 14 guys to 18 girls, but to be honest it was quite nice to have a pause every once in a while, and the host was really good at keeping us entertained during the gaps. And it wasn’t as bad as last time, when there were only about 10 guys (and 2 ran away halfway through), so the girls all spent most of our evening sitting around chatting to each other. Besides, it must be really difficult to guarantee equal numbers, especially at such a niche event, so it doesn’t seem fair to complain about that.
Last time, we also experienced some problems with the Mixeo app, which we were supposed to use to register our verdict (Yes, No or Friend) for each date. But no such difficulties this time – everything worked perfectly and we received our results promptly at 5pm the next day, as promised.
At that point, if you’ve matched with anyone, you can continue to message them and then arrange to meet up if you want to. I don’t particularly like Mixeo’s messaging facility (yes, I’ve used it, and that’s all you need to know for now…) and wouldn’t want to use it long term – but then that would seem to slightly defeat the purpose anyway.
This way of dating can be a slightly strange atmosphere, and there’s a good chance that after a great speed date with someone, you might later find you have nothing at all in common. I also tend to be quite picky about things like age and smoking preference, which you can’t always tell in 4 minutes without asking outright. But on the other hand, it’s a great way to meet lots of different people, have some fun conversations (and some not so fun…), and who knows – maybe meet someone special?
I’m grateful to Original Dating for inviting us back and really pleased I can give them a positive review this time, as I really hate complaining!
Anyway, now that I’ve been speed dating a couple of times, I feel suitably qualified to put together this little guide to the do’s and don’ts, for anyone else considering giving it a go…
Do’s and Don’ts of speed dating
DO make sure you know what you’ve signed up for. If you’ve gone to a literary speed dating event, you’ll probably be expected – at some point – to talk about books.
DON’T chew gum while you’re on a date. (Actually this might just be my particular pet hate, but it doesn’t look nice.)
DO get a drink – you’re going to be doing a lot of talking and may need refreshment. Also, a strawberry mojito is a good talking point, apparently.
DON’T tell everyone you meet how much you hate speed dating. It’s something of a conversation killer.
DO make eye contact, if only because it gets pretty loud in there and it’s easier to focus on what someone’s saying if you’re looking at them. But also – manners.
DON’T walk out halfway through; some people might take that personally.
DO be prepared to talk about anything and everything, from Doctor Who to camping. It’s also a good idea to have a few conversation starters or random facts up your sleeve, so you can always defeat the dreaded awkward silence should it occur.
DON’T ask someone about their other dates; it just makes things awkward.
DO ask questions, but not too many – it’s not an exam.
DON’T monopolise the conversation, you’re supposed to be finding out about the other person too.
Good luck and enjoy!