By Donna Smiley
On a cold winter’s night I arrive with my housemate at Komedia, (one of the top venues in Brighton for comedy and club nights) for an evening of speed dating. We figured that the venue would attract a diverse mix of single men from in and around Brighton. Being new to the city I thought this was a great way to check out the local talent.
We enter the venue and are directed to the studio-bar and given a clipboard & pen to write comments on potential suitors; as well as a name badge and number. The women are instructed to sit on a table to match their number; we sit at our tables after a couple of stiff drinks at the bar to calm our nerves.
Over the next hour we talked to 15 men for 3 minutes at a time, the men work their way around the tables, moving on when they were told to by the organisers.
The room is really dark, maybe to make people seem more attractive, or maybe the organisers are trying to create a romantic atmosphere. This proves really amusing, especially as the table I am sitting on is so close to the edge of the stage I could knock a man over the edge with one wrong movement and believe me this is very tempting in some cases!
Most of the men are a fair bit older than the women, the age range specified was 28 to 45, but most are near to the top of the age range, with the women being from mid to late thirties. The majority of men have obviously prepared a speech before hand, which consists of what they do for a living, where they live, how long they have been single for and their interests. To say this is boring is an understatement.
After having the same conversation for the tenth time men start to blur into one and boredom sets in. I ask the next man, ”If you were a type of cheese what would you be and why?’’ unfortunately this doesn’t go down to well, he simply replies”. ”Your very young aren’t you’’. Luckily the organiser rings the bell too early and it’s time to move on, I am literally saved by the bell, and I couldn’t be more relieved! Some of the men use the evening as an opportunity to network, both myself and my housemate were given the same leaflet by a guy to showcase his acting school and I’m also given a business card of a local film maker, which could prove useful.
At the much needed break we compare notes over another drink. We agree that there are two guys who seem fun and normal, maybe because they are nearer our age and aren’t bad looking, especially when compared to some of the other men, who are balding and are wearing aftershave which smells suspiciously like Old Spice (don’t they know they can get nice aftershave in Boots for under £20!). We get chatting to the guys and get a male perspective on the evening. The men are both film makers in their early thirties and are at the event to meet people, not necessarily a date, but to make friends. They have both been to speed dating before and agree that the majority of men seem a lot older than the women. One of the men quietly tells me that one of the women had forced him to give her his number, and then made him ring her then and there to check he had given her the right number! This reinforced my thinking that some people really were desperate to get a date from the evening. He also said, ‘’I didn’t realise that the women would be so intense, asking me things like do I want children and am I looking for a serious relationship? I’m finding this a bit scary; I’ve only just met them’.
We talk to an attractive, well-dressed woman in her early forties. When I ask why she is at the evening she said, “I have been divorced for a year and thought it was time I got back on the dating scene. I’m looking for a serious relationship and I thought this would be a good way to meet a variety of men’’.
Does speed dating work? On this occasion I came away with nothing more than a business card for a possible future work contact. I would go again, but my advice would be to choose the age range carefully. Both myself and my housemate found the men to be older than we would have liked and the two men we got talking to found the women to be too old for their liking.
I have to say that some people did come across as desperate to find a relationship and this was not an attractive quality. People need to go with an open mind. At the end of the day you have nothing to lose. And how many other evenings to you get to date 15 people in one night, just don’t ask the cheese question!