Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Speed Dating: The way of the future?

For Valentines day, 5FM did another LOVE SUCKS party. This year we went luuurge. Our first Love Sucks party with Vuzu was in 2010, and we had about 50 people speed dating. It was relatively quick, and relatively painless. Plus the night was mostly about the awesome party on some rooftop astroturf. And at that point Speed Dating was a total novelty to me.

This year, however, we aimed somewhat, er, higher. The height of breaking the Guinness World Record for Speed Dating, to be exact. And I need to cover some bases before we discuss the exact topic at hand:

There are some important factors to take into consideration when you’re dealing with Guinness records. Anyone can set up a bunch of tables and count heads and say they’ve broken a record. But to ACTUALLY do it is a lot more complicated.

Firstly, you pay to break a record. Not the other way around. I learnt this when playing cheerleader for Jan Braai in his braai record attempt (and success) last year. The details are also VERY specific. In Jan’s case, he had to have six different pieces of meat on the braai at a time, and couldn’t take the cooked ones off ‘til he’d replaced them. Tired eyes could easily cock that up. We also weren’t allowed to get in the way of specific cameras recording his progress. And NO ONE else was allowed to touch ANYTHING. He had a sidekick who could stoke the fire to keep the wood at the right temperature.

For our Speed Dating attempt, every date had to be meticulously recorded. Every dater had to sign a form at each date, and move on. It’s one thing breaking a world record on your own for your own cause: it’s all your responsibility - you’re relying on you to make it happen. When you’re counting on 400 people in two different cities, who mostly just want to meet a few hot people and get trashed, you’re putting faith in a very fickle rowboat.

Needless to say, the process was a bit harrowing. I was one of the lucky few who didn’t have to stand ‘round a table and date (thank gaad - ‘cause I was in some monster shoes), but got to sit comfortably in one of the Chevy Sparks. That should’ve made me a slightly less irritable candidate, right? Monday night, as it turns out, is also not the best party night for my tired, granny ass.

Granny livers and tedious pre-dating processes aside, the actual dating is what fascinated me. Is speed dating a good alternative to the good old kiss-someone’s-face-off-in-a-club-and-hope-they-call-tomorrow routine? On the surface, you’d think “yes”. Firstly, it’s safe to assume you’d be a lot soberer. Secondly, you can actually have a conversation. And three minutes is a very good time limit. It’s a perfect little gap to see if there’s chemistry - ‘cause let’s face it, it’s there or it’s not. And it’s short enough for you to count on when you’re sitting next to a freak. Or a total prick. The formula itself is fairly faultless. It’s the aftermath that’s complicated. Because after dating roughly twenty people, it’s still up to YOU to contact whoever you may be interested in. So you’re back to square one when it comes to putting yourself on the line, which is sort of what you were trying to avoid in the first place.

I’ll take you through the experience. It’s usually the guys who are asked to move around, so I sat still for an hour and a half. Would rather have been moving tbh. You also know pretty quickly how the date’s going to go. If he’s a confident guy with a nice smile who looks into your eyes as he sidles up to your table (or car), you know, at the very least, it wont be awkward. If his eyes are darting about nervously, you know you have a challenge ahead of you. If he sits down and immediately starts multiple-choice questioning you on holiday locations and loft living... Say no more, right?

Honestly, most of the chaps I dated were very sweet, friendly and chatty. Only two of them had bad BO, and one had too much “cologne” on. And one had horrific breath. And in those awkward sitchunarios, your saving grace is once again that time limit. You don’t GET a time limit on a normal first date. Just ask @allhail. (Here’s her blogpost about the worst first date ever: So that’s one point for speed dating, for sure. One dude was particularly strange and HATED the idea of chatting about “boring shit” like his vocation and interests. Hence the multiple choice quiz I was given. Which was admittedly refreshing, considering the rhetoric that was going down. (Another downside, you seem to say the same thing many, many times... Many times.)

You may have seen my tweet about the dickiest dick to ever dick into society? Ya. I actually bordered on telling him he was welcome to step off and just sign the paper to say we’d dated. What. A. Fucking. Dickknobdickfaceloser. He got into the Spark so nonchalantly, like there were so many places he’d rather be. And it’s this encounter that taught me that you indeed CAN tell a lot about a person in three minutes. He sat in there and didn’t even say hello. Think he might have dropped in something about not liking me (me on radio or my face, I’m not sure which.) I then asked him about what he did. I don’t think that’s ever an offensive question. (It can tell you a lot about someone if it is a particularly rare or specialised field, otherwise it’s just something to skim over.) Shit, I can’t even remember what his answer was... Basic, normal jobbie really. After realising he was being a bit too fucking cool for school, he proceeded to tell me how he’d left school in std 7 and had started working etc etc something about ‘been working forever’ - see, he was such a tool I was disinterested to the point of memory-lapsing. But I’d established from his general demeanour and kak attitude - and not from ANY of the information I’d got out of him - what kind of dude he was. He evidently had a complex about his job and/or his short-lived education, and instead of being proud of what he’d achieved despite those, he was defensive. Nutshell: some MAYJAH small-man syndrome.

So from that, more of a solution to the worst case scenario. And easier to tell what you don’t want. What about the GOOD? Does anyone really know after three minutes if they want to date someone? Then, do they have the balls to say “I thought we clicked, want to go on a proper date”? ‘Cause like I said, that sense of organisation and distance falls away the minute that last bell goes.

The question then, is is Speed Dating a solution to the ‘conventional’ methods of waiting around for someone? Despite how much it exhausted me, and my reluctance to ever do it again ever ever in a million years ever, I see an upside: it forces you into that environment. It puts you right out there. You, along with the tens you’ll be dating, all know that you’re there to meet ‘someone’. So there should technically be no uncomfortable flirting. Technically... Compared to, lets say a club scene, where the group of girls might just be out for ladies’ night and not want any cock involved, and the group of guys might be on a stag night, and are all married or on their way there. People in their natural habitats are unpredictable and intimidating. Putting them in organised format with a strict code of behaviour, however, means they’ll all be actively interested in the same thing. So you’re already off to a good start. Having the fact that you’re all there in common is a great kick-start.

I’d say try it at least once, and decide if it’s for you. No harm in trying. I can vouch for that. ;)


  1. Awesome article... I think the point is that either way, whether conventional dating or speed dating, you have to be willing to put yourself out there. You've gotta be in the game to play it!

    On the dating side, I'd rather spend 3 minutes with someone incompatible than 3 hours... oh the awkwardness of the exceptionally long drive back to your dates house to drop her off when you have less than nothing to say to each other.

  2. I met a match with someone who I thought was totally my type! I'm so pleased with everything about Your speedDating, I totally recommend it to everyone.
    I met nice, attractive women. Didn't have to ask for any numbers, that was definitely a plus.