As part of this Challenge, I’ve trialled various different single sites and apps, hoping to find some more ‘authentic’ blind date experiences. The vast majority of my early dates were recommended by friends, or friends of friends, and so I wondered if perhaps this was skewing my experience of serial dating. As a result, I turned to a number of sites, including Guardian Soulmates and DoingSomething, however ironically the one I’ve had most success with is the most basic. The app Tinder literally just shows you photos of potential matches. There are no profiles, no percentage matches, and there is no intervention from the website to set you up with certain guys. You simply punch in your criteria for age and proximity, and the app provides a seemingly endless supply of photos for you to sort through.
So far I’ve found four of my Dates on Tinder- The Fresh Prince, The Surprise Package, The Skype Date and The Queen’s Guard are all guys I met thanks to Tinder. Ironically I also spotted the Oxford Blue on Tinder before our date, and actually selected him (having Facebook-stalked his profile before agreeing to date him in the first place … Safety first, he was recommended by a Twitter follower I didn’t know!). I selected him out of interest, to see whether he would select me back (and whether he recognised me as the girl he had been scheduling a date with). He didn’t select me back, (I suspect having met him, because I’m not skinny and blonde!) but it was interesting to go into the date knowing that.
By contrast, with Tinder dates, you already know they find you attractive (at least in your well-selected photos!). And as The Jet-Setter pointed out tonight, it’s essentially the same as approaching someone in a bar. You find them attractive, so you go over and strike up conversation. The added bonus of Tinder is that it only lets you speak to them if they have indicated they also find you attractive. Ground work done.
And so it is no surprise that my Tinder dates have all been relatively attractive- because I had to swipe ‘yes’ to their photos in order to speak to them to arrange the dates. But the surprise aspect of all my Tinder dates has been just how eligible and well-brought up they’ve all been! Of my four Tinder dates so far, all have been successful, educated, well-spoken guys, with heaps of chat, and no evident reasons for being single. Rather than just being pretty faces, they’ve been really interesting, normal guys. And when I went out for the evening with the Army Officer, and his group of officer friends, it was evident that Tinder has become a socially acceptable, popular dating app, which normal eligible guys are happy to talk about using. This is possibly because it takes such minimal effort, and because it doesn’t require any form of real investment. Even the photographs can be sourced directly from your Facebook.
In my experience so far, the more complicated, expensive, or invested the website, the less likely sociable cool guys are to try it, because by putting in the time or money to create a profile, they are actively admitting to online dating. And even in this day and age, that still carries a considerable stigma for a lot of guys. Again, the fact that Tinder is an app, as opposed to a ‘website’, probably helps too.
So with this in mind, I ventured out on my fifth Tinder date of the challenge.
I was quite quick to explain about the challenge, and he was unfazed by the idea of being one of a series of dates. The Jet Setter’s job meant that he would be hard to pin down for at least the next month, however we scheduled in a rough date for September, and then when I found out about Dine Mile High, I contacted him to see if he might want to attend with me.
Mile High is marketed as ‘the last word in luxury pop-up dining’.
Pop up dining is something I’ve discovered thanks to this challenge. Up until last week when I explored Disappearing Dining with the Army Officer, and the company’s restaurant ‘Back in Five Minutes‘ with the Queen’s Guard, I had never been to a pop-up event. However since beginning this blog, and signing up to DoingSomething, with its endless list of fun and different date venues, I’ve discovered the amazing Grub Club website – where individuals organise dinner parties in crazy venues, like Tube Carriages or clock towers, as well as pop-up brunch clubs and one-off afternoon tea parties. I had tried to coincide one of my weekend dates with a Grub Club event, however unfortunately none of the dates fitted, however when I found out about Dine Mile High, and their Mozambique themed pop-up dining events this month, it seemed the ideal novel date location.
I bought tickets for Mile High over ‘Design My Night’ – another really useful site for planning a more unique date- and at the time the location was a secret. Closer to ‘departure’ it was revealed that we would be flying from ‘Notting Hill Airport’ to Mozambique, from a location on Westbourne Grove,
I met The Jet-Setter out the front of the venue, and we headed inside to a realistic check-in desk, complete with two organised air stewardesses. We were handed (very high quality!) boarding passes and passports. The boarding cards denoted where we would be sitting for dinner, and the passports allowed for two free drinks, included in the £65 tickets. Each time you ordered a drink, a bartender would stamp your passport!
The air stewardesses were truly in character- one British, one Irish, one Australian, and one American, and the Mozambiquean (if that’s a word?!) pilot rocked around the venue in his sunglasses, happy to tell anyone who would listen that he had never flown solo before, failed his flying test six times, and was quite drunk!
At this point I genuinely wondered if this was the event The Enigma had mentioned to me, when he discussed his options of date venue- an event where you dine in the middle of a plane crash with actors all around you?! Especially when I recognised the American air hostess to be an English graduate who had been at my college in Cambridge with me. However the plane never crashed! (I’ve since searched Google, and can’t work out what he was talking about – apart from perhaps an event called Futurist Aerobanquet four years ago – so perhaps The Enigma was talking about Mile High, and had been as confused as I was? If anyone does know what he was talking about, do please let me know, as it sounds awesome! Like being on LOST!)
After drinks in the Departure Lounge, we were ushered into a curtained-off area of the large (rather cold) warehouse space. The Jet-Setter had looked up the venue, and apparently it was once a mail sorting office, however the communal toilets upstairs (as well as causing some embarrassment to diners as the night progressed!) made the venue seem more like a primary school or church hall.
Behind the curtains we were ushered to our seats – The Jet Setter and I were in Aisle 3 – the third spaces along each side of one of the two long communal tables. The Captain had called our party names over the tannoy, asking us to board in turn, however we had both missed our names being called, and ended up running late for the flight!
We sat down opposite one another across the wide table, and I immediately noticed a stark difference between Mile High and the Disappearing Dining event I had attended the other week. At Disappearing Dining, we had seated ourselves, and The Army Officer and I had chosen to sit side by side so we could speak more easily to one another. Sitting across from one another on the wide table at Mile High, the Jet Setter and I were forced to talk quite loudly and share our conversation with those around us, which at times was quite awkward. It was quite funny watching other people engaging – the couple to one side of us clearly weren’t enjoying the food, and at one point the woman began visibly sulking at the table.
In the words of The Jet Setter, dinner was ‘authentic’ in its Mozambiquean origin! The first course was marinated prawns, followed by a second starter of charcoal grilled sardines, served with fried cassava. Our main course was spicy chicken on the bone, served with coriander rice and pickled vegetables. And then dinner was rounded off with rather burned pineapple, and a granita made with cashew nuts.
During my date with The Queen’s Guard, he had mentioned living in Mozambique when training to be a dive instructor, and I had told him about the Dine Mile High event. At the time he had commented how unimpressed he had been with the food in Mozambique, and it seemed the menu at Mile High was authentic in that respect! Neither myself nor The Jet Setter was overly impressed by dinner, and bearing in mind how happily stuffed I was following both the Disappearing Dining meals I had, this evening, on returning home I’ve already opened two bags of Mini Cheddars before writing this post! Not what you expect after a four-course pop-up dinner!
It’s a shame, because the food really let down the event. In fact it was almost as if the Mile High team had forgotten the key part of a good pop-up dinner event – the actual dinner! Everything else was top class. The passport and boarding pass were really high quality, considering all they were actually required for, and the cabin crew’s uniform and acting was spot on, as were the decorations.
I was disappointed that there wasn’t more of a show, as seeing how much work had been put into the set, costumes and script, it seemed a shame not to jazz it up with some form of drama – yes I’m still holding out for a LOST plane crash experience! I also think more of a spectacle would have taken attention away from the oddly spartan and realistic meal. Both the Jet-Setter and I agreed that we wouldn’t have minded eating authentic food from Mozambique in Mozambique, but it did seem rather odd paying £65 to eat such a basic meal in Notting Hill!
The other disappointment of the evening was how cold it was. I actually sat in my coat for some of the meal because I was so chilly, and so once dinner had finished, and we’d been led in a traditional song from Mozambique by our ‘drunken, newly qualified’ captain, The Jet-Setter and I decided to find a warmer pub for a drink.
And here I should probably explain his nickname, because it’s not just linked to the Dine Mile High experience. The Jet Setter is a professional yacht racer, and has spent most of the last ten years travelling the world as professional racing crew. And in just a few weeks time (on my birthday in fact!) he is emigrating to New Zealand for work.
Ironically he’s not the first of my dates to be about to emigrate! The Best Man was just weeks away from moving to Canada when we went to Notting Hill Carnival a few weeks ago – so it seems knowing you’re not in a position to meet someone makes a date with someone who is doing 30 Dates in three months a more viable option!
We sat in a very traditional (but far warmer) pub and chatted easily. The Jet-Setter was really interesting, and we had a great deal of similar travel experiences. I’ve never met a professional racer before, and it was fascinating hearing about his career and how he’d got into sailing. Yet again, Tinder delivered. I had picked a guy from a few photographs, and ended up on a date with a really nice, normal, sociable guy with heaps of life experience and stories to tell. It was genuinely a shame when the pub called last orders, and we were turfed out onto the street!
I wore – my date favourite – a black summer dress with black polkadots, black and gold ballet pumps, and a pillar box red belted coat for most of the very chilly date!
He wore – a sailing polo shirt and jeans
We met – on Westbourne Grove
We drank – G&Ts, Corona, White Wine spritzers
We talked about – Tinder, the challenge, Borneo, New Zealand, Australia, scuba diving, South America, sailing, school, work
The date lasted – 4 and a half hours
The date ended – when we were kicked out of the pub, and I jumped in a taxi to Paddington Station
Marks out of ten – I loved the setting and concept of Dine Mile High, but the food really ruined it, and it was really uncomfortably cold at the venue. However the Jet-Setter did save the date somewhat, especially when he suggested we disappear off somewhere warmer for a date. So all in all, a comfortable 8/10. And if Dine Mile High want to schedule a ‘plane crash’ one night – I might be open to raising the grade!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx