You’d think we would have learned by now!
Speed Dating does not attract normal men!
But, it was an excuse for an evening out, and Date in a Dash promised an ‘elite’ evening at SOUK in Clapham.
It was only actually after we got to the bar that we realised what the supposedly ‘elite’ element of the evening was. Everyone in attendance had to earn over £35k a year. Which arguably isn’t a particularly ‘elite’ sum in London? As The Nanny, who was also Speed Dating with us again, pointed out with a giggle, ‘even nannies in London over £35k!’
To be honest, I’m not really sure I would have chosen a speed dating evening based on income if I’d known. It’s a weird event, because it implies that everyone there feels like their income is a defining part of who they are.
If I was going to a speed date to find my ‘One’, then I’d much rather go to an event full of people who play regular sport, or people who have spent a significant period of time travelling. Or even just a room full of people who have a social life away from a computer! A guy’s earnings have never really been a big deal, because I’m quite happy to support myself.
As the men arrived, we soon realised the ‘over £35k’ bracket attracted three main types of dater
1) The IT Crowd (the Speed Dating regulars)
2) W*nker Bankers (which is odd, as you’d expect them to be earning so much more than £35k, that they wouldn’t pick the event)
3) Foreigners new to London (another Speed Dating regular crowd)
SOUK was a nice enough venue. The bar was close to the Tube, and easy to find. The only problem with the layout of the bar meant that if you arrived early (which we was recommended), you had to sit either side of the entrance, able to see every man as he came in! It definitely took some of the suspense out of the evening! And even meant our fourth datee friend commented ‘I’m taking my badge off now, because I don’t want these men knowing my name!’ A comment which has earned her the nickname ‘Miss Nameless’!
The bar smelled of incense, and was laid out neatly. Each table had a number, though they didn’t correspond with anything other than to act as a prompt as to which direction the boys needed to move in.
The compere was lively and engaging. He introduced the night, and explained that (for the first time yet!) there were more men than girls, so the boys would be expected to spend time at the bar in between dates.
I settled on one of the couches on the outside of the room and waited for the conveyor belt of men to begin.
The first date set the tone for the evening. A very sweet man, who had just moved from Mumbai to London spent four minutes telling me just how excited he was by the London public transport system, and the fact it runs all night. (He later spent four minutes with Miss 32 discussing the virtues of the Northern Line!)
Other highlights of my evening included a man telling me (seemingly endlessly) about how amazing he is in his job, a small impish man becoming my temporary gay best friend, and a stream of men refusing to sit on the chair opposite me, and awkwardly coming to join me on the restricted couch space.
The epitome of my speed dating experiences to date, a rather overweight, pasty man, with thick glasses and a cold, limp, clammy handshake, spent four painfully awkward minutes alternating long periods of silence with the following three answers.
Me – ‘So what do you do job wise?’ (I know, DUUUUULLL question, but I wasn’t really trying overly hard after the handshake!)
Him – ‘Um, IT’
Me – ‘What about in your spare time?’
Him – ‘Um, IT’
I tried to tell him about a sport I play. He got highly confused, and thought I was talking about dating (?!).
Him – ‘I’m really completely out of my comfort zone here ….’
Cue supportive nods, and ‘well done you’ type sentiments from me ….
I think there were 14 men, and 10 girls, though GENUINELY one girl left after just two dates!!! I guess she had a similar approach to dating as Girl Number 1 at the Slow Dating Clapham event!
By the end of my 14 dates, my face literally ached from fake smiling. About half way round, I stopped asking questions, and started just chatting about speed dating and online dating with the people I was dating. Of the 14 men, I would say only 3 maximum would ever normally go to a bar for anything other than a speed dating event, and of those 3, two were absolutely smashed! As in eyes shining, downing a full beer in the 4 minute date, no personal space drunk! One told me a particularly enchanting story of climbing Scafell Pike whilst drinking an entire bottle of wine, and then driving 150 miles straight afterwards … (without realising he’d just inadvertently told me he drank drove 150 miles …. ) The other one spent 4 minutes winding me up that my future husband was in the room! Becoming a cat lady was genuinely a more attractive option!
As one painful date followed the next, I realised something. I was genuinely looking forward to something …
The end! I was looking forward to being able to talk to the other girls and laugh about some of the awful dates we’d all just experienced! As I walked over to join the others, Miss 32 and Miss Nameless literally ran from the venue, putting the ‘Dash’ into Date in a Dash, and barely giving me enough time to grab The Nanny from her final date!
We disappeared off to a nearby burger bar for a long overdue dinner, and a debrief, which mainly involved a LOT of laughing.
The event itself was well-run, but as far as I’m concerned ‘elite’ is a lot more than a pay packet. I think all four of us girls were in agreement that we’d have had more luck walking a round a full bar and forcing ourselves to accost random men for four minutes, than we will at speed dating. So in fact, we’re going to do just that. Miss 32 is going to organise an unofficial singles night for us, a kind of social experiment. We’ll pick a nice bar, on a popular night, and see how many eligible men we can chat to during the course of the evening … whilst spending the £15-£20 we normally would on the speed dating entry on our drinks! Watch this space for more details.
I haven’t hung up my speed dating card just yet (I still have a free night in Oxford because I didn’t pick anyone on my last Slow Dating event), and I’m planning on investigating some of the more weird and wonderful London Singles events – including Sssh Dating (a Silent Dating event) and, if Date in a Dash organise it again, ‘Dating in the Dark’ (the event I was meant to go to tonight was postponed due to a lack of numbers).
However, if there was anything that could make me any more cynical about ‘meeting a man’ at Speed Dating, it was my train journey home.
I jumped on the late train back from Paddington to Reading after my dinner with the girls, only to find the two drunk men sat in front of me in the carriage had just come back from a Speed Dating event.
Whilst one tried (painfully awkwardly) to chat me up … asking me over and over why I didn’t want to give him my phone number, I literally watched the other guy remove his wedding ring from his pocket and slip in back on his finger. (Apparently ‘all the girls there had known’ …. yeah right, that’s why the ring was in his pocket??!!)
It did make me realise the nastier side of meeting someone without the ‘friend reference’ that all my Blind Dates currently come with. If you meet a guy at a singles event, or online … you always run the risk that you’re just a part of their escapism. Maybe they’re just pretending to be single for the night, or the week, or the month? Maybe they’re married, or in a relationship. Maybe they’re using a fake name, or a fake persona?
Maybe that’s the real reason Henley Boy never contacted me again? (after all, he hasn’t been back on Plenty of Fish since our first date?).
What I do know, pretty convincingly … is that I’m not going to meet my ideal man at a Speed Dating event! And I don’t think I’m even going to find one of 30 at such an event either!!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx