I’ve been reviewing London dating events for ten months now, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that normally they’re great if you’re a guy, and not so great if you’re a girl!
In general, girls are far more open to the idea of dating websites and dating events. We’ll happily talk about internet dating, and we turn singles events into social opportunities. As a result, unless it’s a lesbian dating company, the key to a successful dating service, is finding something which can draw guys in.
It isn’t simply a matter of numbers though – something Miss 32 and I have realised on our numerous speed dating experiences. Often speed dating attracts very different types of men than it does women. The girls are normally sociable, attractive girls, who appear in large groups, and make a night of it. The men tend to be very socially awkward and shy, and to turn up alone. I’ve often found myself wondering if the men at these events have ever set foot in a bar before, and whether they’ve seen this one particular speed dating event as their only opportunity to meet a member of the opposite sex.
Yes, speed dating as a girl in London REALLY is that bad! (Do I need to remind you of the man who only talked about how great London transport is? Or the guy who broke down, midway through our 4 minute interchange!)
But, as we began to compare and contrast the different dating events available to singles in London, both myself and the other female Experimental Daters realised something. Oddly, the weirder the dating event, the more normal the calibre of guys it attracted.
Take Silent Dating for example. We sat in a pub for two hours, making animal noises, weird facial expressions, and staring into complete strangers’ eyes. And yet the men sitting across the table from us, were some of the most normal guys we’ve come across speed dating!
The key to a successful dating event, is to run something which people are happy to admit to going to. An event which, at the end of the day at work, you are happy to loudly tell your colleagues that you’re attending (as opposed to slinking off out of the office, and hoping no one spots you entering the bar!).
It’s one of the reasons I think Table8 works well – the single person’s dinner party. Great venues, great food, and therefore great company!
With this all in mind, Miss 32, The Coincidental Dater and I all signed up for the Simplicity3 Launch last night at the Emirates cable car.
Simplicity3 is a company I first heard about last year. Back in November, the company’s director, Tracey, invited me to test out her matchmaking skills.
To be completely honest, I had mixed experiences. The website’s name and branding has never really appealed to me. The name Simplicity3 reminds me of a feminine hygiene product, and the ‘3’ part seems one too many for the aim of a dating agency!
Pre-launch, the dating website was severely lacking in members, which seemed an odd time to ask a blogger to review it. I wasn’t a big fan of my dating profile, which Tracey wrote for me, thinking it sounded more like a CV than a pitch for a partner! The description focussed on my academic achievements, and even went so far as to outright tell anyone viewing my profile that I’m a blogger – something I prefer to approach in conversation with guys.
My Simplicity3 ‘matchmake’ never actually happened. He texted me the night before our date, to tell me he wasn’t feeling well, and ask if he could let me know an hour before the date if he would be able to make it or not. I declined. I’m not a huge fan of finding out last minute if my plans are falling through, especially when I’m a ninety-minute commute away from London.
I didn’t hear from Simplicity3 or my ‘match’ again, and I’d all but forgotten about the site until last month when I noticed news of the company’s launch on Twitter. Emirates Cable Car Dating!
I loved the idea of cable car dating immediately. I’ve wanted to go on the Emirates cable car for ages – in fact The Enigma and I tried to go on it during our second date, but it had already closed for the night. As a frequent seasonnaire, I know just how easy it is to get chatting to a stranger on a ski lift!
The website offered five time slots to ride the Cable Car –
6.30, 7pm, 7.30, 8pm and 8.30.
We opted for 8pm, giving us time to get over to North Greenwich and grab dinner beforehand at the O2. At 7.50 we wandered over to the cable car station, only to be a bit confused. There was no sign of the dating event. There had been no instructions in the email with our tickets, and confusingly the time on the ticket said 6.30, which made us panic slightly! There were no signs up or people obviously waiting from the dating agency. Finally, having circled the station for some time, we approached a guard, and he ushered us through the barriers, and up onto the platform.
We were greeted by a friendly, but frozen-looking, hostess! My first impression was how immaculately dressed she was. She looked beautiful, but was far more overdressed than any of the daters! To be honest it seemed a little odd that the staff were making more of an effort than any of the hopeful singletons.
By the time we got upstairs, it was five past the hour, and our cable car had left without us! We were reassured that they had juggled the groups depending on people arriving early or late, and so we could join the next group.
We stood looking nervously around the platform, as a couple of interesting characters appeared and then thankfully disappeared (one was at least twice our age!). There seemed to be a lot more staff on the platform than daters. It was a little awkward and cold waiting on the platform, and as The Coincidental pointed out, the situation could have improved with some music and alcohol (though as the cable car was still open to the public, this probably wouldn’t have been feasible.
We didn’t have to wait long before we were separated off with two of the guys, and ushered into a cable car. Two boys, three girls, and Tracey as our inflight matchmaker.
The Emirates is by far the cleanest cable car I’ve ever been in. The absence of snow is definitely helpful in that respect, and it actually made a really cool venue for a ‘speed date’. We settled in the cabin – girls on one side, boys on the other, like a tiny school disco. And Tracey standing rather awkwardly up the end of the cabin.
We began with slightly awkward 1-on-1 thirty-second introductions. These intros were only long enough for one person to really speak each time, and the 5th wheel was left looking out of the window for half a minute! Though the part I found weirdest was that Tracey could hear our entire hurried conversation!
By this point we’d almost reached the top of the cable car already. Tracey introduced a quiz of London, and told us about some of the impressive prizes up for grabs – including dinner for 2, and a flight for 2.
We were separated out into 2 teams – one couple and a three – and the quiz proved rather humorous entertainment for the return journey. Especially when me and my teammate turned out to know next to nothing about London!
The ice broken, it was off to a bar in the O2 for a drinks reception. Included in our ticket was free drink. We filtered into the bar to join daters who had been on earlier cable car flights, and were handed a goody bag containing wine, condoms, e-cigarettes, mouthwash, chocolates, perfume samples and breath mints.
I was then, rather amusingly, presented with an ‘extra special’ press gift (my first bribe to date! 😉 ) . What’s the most awkward you could give to a single woman? You’ve guessed it – I was given a vibrator!
It certainly proved a conversation starter, as I stood with the other singletons at the bar!
I loved the idea of using the Emirates Cable car, and for a first event, I think it was pretty successful. There did seem to be less guys than girls (as proven by the dynamic of our cable car), and overall numbers were a little quiet, but everyone who I mentioned the concept to beforehand thought it sounded a really fun idea.
It would have been nice to have been given clearer instructions of where to go at the start, and to perhaps have had someone to come and greet us at the station. One thing which DoingSomething did well when they ran the Santa Climb over the O2 was to have greeters holding big signs which showed us exactly where to go.
I would also have liked to have spent more time on the cable car – perhaps next time they could run 2 x 1hr time slots, with several pods going at the same time, and then every time you finish a lap of the cable car, the guys could switch pods, making it a more adventurous form of speed dating? I also don’t think we needed the Simplicity3 rep in the cable car with us. If anything she just made it feel more awkward because we were in such an enclosed space.
Overall I enjoyed the event and the concept, as did both Miss 32 and The Coincidental. Proving our theories, the guys in our cable car pod were far more ‘normal’ than the normal speed dating offerings, and we all had a really fun night.
I even went home with a phone number (to accompany my vibrator!) … Something I’ve never done from any speed dating event! Though more on that in a future post …
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx