Pheromone Parties – Finding Love the Scientific Way?

A sense of smell is certainly something I consider in terms of attraction.  I’m a big fan of perfume – so much so, that I feel oddly naked without it – and I’ve always been a fan of men’s aftershave.  The marketing ploy of the Lynx effect is no legend where I’m concerned – I’ve always found the cheap deodorant attractive and ‘manly’ and have laughed at myself on more than one occasion when I’ve asked what scent a man was wearing, only to discover it was just Lynx body spray.

With all that in mind, I was intrigued to hear about the Pheromone Parties – a series of singles events which began in the States a few years ago.  When the events moved this side of the pond, I was obviously keen to attend – we all know how much I love a novel idea for a singles event.

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The premise is simple – daters wear the same t-shirt to bed for three nights, prior to the event.  You’re not meant to wear any deodorant or perfume with it, and at the end of the three nights, you’re asked to keep it in a freezer bag to preserve your unique scent.

You then attend the singles night, bringing the t-shirt with you.  You transplant it into a standard, numbered plastic bag, and then place it on a table full of other bagged t-shirts.  Men’s bags are denoted with a blue number, ladies’ with a pink number.

Once your bag is on the table, you get stuck in, sniffing other peoples’ bags.  If you find one you like, you head over to the event photographer, he takes a photo with the bag, and then the photo is projected onto a wall of the bar, so that everyone can see which number you’ve chosen.  If you spot someone posing with your bag, you approach, and then you see if they like more than the smell of your dirty t-shirt.



For a start, I love the premise.  It’s a bit weird and wacky, and gross as sniffing other peoples’ laundry may sound, everyone got really into it.  It was a great ice-breaker, and by the time we arrived (I attended the event with Purdey Miles, reality TV dating star, and 30 Dates blog frequent dating guinea pig!), about an hour after the start, things were in full swing.  One dater, who had attended the first UK event, admitted that everyone was a lot more open to the idea this time, and just going for it.  People were so enthusiastic that it was actually quite hard to get near the table, and sniff all the shirts!

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Attendance at the event was really good.  With tickets priced around £10, it had a cheap and cheerful feel which had brought in the crowds.  The Party was held at Stories Bar on Broadway Market.  Regular readers will know, I’m far more of a SW London girl than a hip East Londoner, and despite feeling nowhere near cool enough walking through Hackney, I didn’t feel out of place at all at the event.  As you can see from the photos above, there was a really wide variety of daters at the event, and a fair amount of men, which can often be a challenge at a singles’ event.

Yes (as you can tell from the photos above), there were a couple of rather odd characters, and some really rather elderly, creepy men, but there were also a couple of really hot, normal guys – underlining something I often say about singles events these days.  The weirder the event, the more normal the guys!  No one wants to admit to heading out of the office and going speed dating any more.  Guys are far more open to dating event ideas if they’re a bit wacky and different.

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It’s interesting looking through all the photos of the event on the Pheromone Parties Facebook page, as interestingly the same bag numbers come up every time – 129 and 139 (the latter was the one I picked too).

I’m not gonna lie – sniffing the bags WAS pretty gross.  There was a real mix of contents – some shirts had blatantly never been worn, some smelled as if the owner had sprayed perfume in (women in particular seemed to opt for this approach!) and some smelled literally like the t-shirt had just been removed from a gym bag, a week after the owner had been to the gym.  There were very few men’s shirts which weren’t either awful, or clearly completely clean – which is perhaps why there were two very popular shirts.  Purdey and I were sure one man had wrapped his shirt around a bar of chocolate all week – it literally smelled like opening a chocolate bar wrapper!  I was very well-behaved and didn’t cheat at all with mine … It didn’t get any takers (we’ll blame my late arrival for that one!) … though when Purdey and I sniffed it later, neither of us could smell anything other than plastic bag, so that may be why!!

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One strange element of it all, is that now the photos are up on the Pheromone Party Facebook Page, people are tagging the photos with their names … and tagging the BAGS with their names.  And this is a really interesting angle, because whilst I never met him, I would have put money on the fact that the bag I chose belonged to a man of South Asian origin.  What I’m going to say may sound stereotypical, but I think most of my Indian and Pakistani friends will agree with this.  If you’re of that origin, you traditionally eat a lot of curries, and when you eat curries, your sweat captures some of the smell of the spice.  The reason the bag I picked smelled nice, was because I could smell spices. Now, that may be completely wrong, and off the wall – but I remember remarking to Purdey that I thought my bag belonged to one of the Asian guys at the event, and sure enough, when the photos were tagged, the very popular Mr 139 was of Asian origin.

If my theory about your sweat indicating aspects of your diet is true, then you could see how things like similar eating preferences might be distinguished in your smell, and be things that subconsciously affect your attraction to someone.

I’m no scientist, but from my perspective as a dater, the event was novel, fun, and certainly broke the ice.  People approached each other a lot more than at normal singles parties, and whilst there were only 2 men in the room I would have considered going on a date with, regardless of their scent, I do think the event itself worked.  Personally, sniffing the bags, I realised the scent of a guy I’m attracted to, is normally a combination of his sweat, his deodorant choice, his aftershave choice, and his laundry detergent – and whilst that may sound like it’s masking his pheromones, I think the choices he makes in selecting those products is as important a part of his attraction, as his natural scent. I can test hundreds of perfumes, and tell you within seconds which fragrances are ‘very me’ and which aren’t.

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Stories Bar, which hosted the event, was a nice, quirky location.  All the organisation on the night was spot on, and they had other things going on around the room, including aromatherapy massage and smelling salts.  They’d even gone so far as to lay out bowls of coffee beans amongst the shirts, to sniff as a ‘palette cleanser’!  (Not something that works on me, as I hate coffee!)

The only downside of the location for me and Purdey, was how far Broadway Market is from a station – we had a 15 minute trek each way from a Tube station, and I’m not a huge fan of having to grab a cab from a Tube station to have to get somewhere.

I would suggest a couple of improvements for future events – I think it would be nice to be sent a t-shirt and bag in the run up to the event – a lot of the girls I know who attended were panicking because they didn’t have any freezer bags, and you can actually tell a lot about someone if you look too deeply into the shirt they’ve put into the bag. (Mine was a sports vest I normally wear at Bikram yoga)  Perhaps Pheromone Parties could charge £5 more, and send you a branded t-shirt to use, and then keep after the event?

The bags DID smell quite strongly of plastic, which certainly obscured the scent on some of the less smelly shirts – mine included.  Which kind of defeats the point!

And perhaps a bit more instruction before the event – if I hadn’t seen a tweet three nights beforehand, I wouldn’t have remembered to start wearing my chosen top.

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Would I recommend it? Yes – it was a good laugh, a cheap and fun event, and something a bit different.

Will you find your one true love? Hmm … debatable … I still think you’ll be more attracted to his photo on the screen, than his t-shirt in a bag.  It’s probably more of a headline maker than a marriage-maker

Would I do it again? Probably not – it was a bit of a novelty event, and a bit too hip and cool for a preppy South-West Londoner like me! (that’s why I kept my glasses on most of the night!!!) 😉

Miss Twenty-Nine xxx


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3 Comments on Pheromone Parties – Finding Love the Scientific Way?

  1. Haha this sounds like quite the adventure! Not sure how I feel about sniffing a whole bunch of unwashed shirts to find my guy!… But then again, it would make quite a story for to the grandkids someday… 😉 Thanks for sharing. Well-written too!

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