Monday, July 4, 2016

Date Lab, 10th May

Date Lab aims to take the psychology behind why people end up with matches at traditional speed dating and mess with it to level the playing field. So there are some rules to abide, and things are done a little differently to shake things up.

Women cannot wear red and are encouraged to wear black and something that shows off their figure. Men should dress smartly but not ridiculously slow. The amount of time you spend talking to the member of the opposite sex is short. Very short. Unnervingly short. It is only three minutes and by the time you’ve sat down and said hello you feel you’ve barely said anything before you have to move on and start again. It certainly keeps you on your toes and goes far too quickly for you to really make any judgments about anyone, let alone write them down.

But you don’t have to – yet. Another one of their rules to be broken is that instead of just getting one shot at someone, you speak to them twice. The first time, the men stay in their seats and the women move round. Turning another speed dating paradigm on its head. But for the second round women get to rest their feet and the men come to them. And, I suspect, we had a little longer to chat. This makes sure the power dynamic stays even, as apparently when you’re the stationary one, you are more critical of the people coming to you to be passed judgment upon. Makes sense I think.

In case you run out of things to say, they helpfully provide conversation starter questions. At first we weren’t sure if we were supposed to be using them or not but realized that they weren’t mandatory. Sometimes we used them, sometimes we didn’t. Sometimes I was very grateful for them, even if I did end up answering the same questions a couple of times.

It seems to be a generally accepted truth that more women sign up to speed dating events than men, for whatever reason that is. And that when men sign up the calibre is… let’s just say… uneven. Well, I don’t know how they did it but Date Lab managed to get the basement of The Coin Laundry (a bit of a retro-themed new bar in Exmouth Market) full of people who were pretty much all the right side of attractive, and mainly a young, 20sish kinda crowd.

I don’t go to speed dating to find the love of my life. I go for something fun to do, hopefully to chat to some entertaining people and if anything else happens it’s a bonus. I did actually get a few matches out of the event… they boast a 90% success match rate…but none have turned into anything. Perhaps that just means I need to return. 

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I work as an editor in educational publishing by day, and then spend most of my spare time discovering interesting things to do in London, and taking people there with my own Meetup.