Speed dating isn't a new concept for me. I've tried it once before
, and it was a surprisingly painless experience. Hey, I even got a nice, legit second date out of it.
But they'd always been relatively small, low-key deals where I'd meet 10 or 12 guys by the end of the night. Not so at the Find Your Luvah speed-dating event
held over the weekend in Hoboken, N.J., which organizers hoped would break the world record for number of microdates.
I was one of 350 people simultaneously speed-dating, which made it the largest event of its kind in history. With so many people talking in one room and the potential to meet so many guys, I wasn't really nervous. I was, however, overwhelmed by the sheer number of people.
Purple Lab, the event's host, went all-out on this one -- before the event, there was plenty of swag, a buffet of finger foods and club music blasted through the speakers.
When it was go-time, we strolled into the large ballroom filled with long tables, numbers and bottles of Skinny Water. Steven Ward
, matchmaker and host of VH1's "Tough Love,"
was on hand to host and sign copies of his book. (Steven's a good-looking guy. It was to many a female attendee's dismay that he opted not to participate in the speed dating itself. )
After registering and picking up a tag that re-named me the very sci-fi "G197," I made my way to the bar and tried the party's signature drink, which was a mix of vodka, a fruity liqueur called X-Rated Infusion and seltzer water, which actually didn't taste too bad.
It was time to get things started.
You really could see a wide variety of men and women in the crowd -- women dolled up in skin-tight dresses and stilettos stood alongside others who'd opted for the low-maintenance look with their jeans and sneakers. (I decided to go for an all-black ensemble -- skinny jeans, flowy top, blazer and studded, heeled boots.) The men ranged from preppy frat boys to your garden-variety "Jersey Shore" types. There were definitely more good-looking guys at this event, which made me a little bit more hopeful about snagging someone.
Putting the Speed Into "Speed Dating"
Between the rush to get to seats and how close they were to one another, there were actually a few wipe-outs on the way to sit down. People who came in groups were annoyed by the fact that their wingpeople couldn't be next to them. With all the voices filling the ballroom, it made me worry, How the hell are we actually going to hear each other when we start talking?
Since there was still an excess of women (sadly), it looked like the guys would be going on more than the allotted 20 dates we were originally granted at the beginning of the evening. As I walked over to my seat, I was relieved to see that my "first date" hadn't arrived yet. Until I noticed a too-young-looking guy (I mean, I'm 24, but he looked like a high-schooler) walking over to the chair in front of me. He was adorable -- but in a Frosted Mini-Wheats–commercial way, wearing a suit that clearly was too big for him. He introduced himself, and we started our "date."
He breezed through rote questions like "How are you doing?", "What brought you here tonight?" and even asked me what I was doing after the event. Oddly enough, it wasn't as awkward as I thought. He turned out to be an engineer (he looked like jailbait, but he'd graduated from college in 2008) who came to the event with a friend. Most of our conversation was more guessing games and mindless banter, but he seemed like someone I could have fun with.
Unfortunately, I wish I could say the same for the rest of my dates. One guy who looked like he played football in high school talked so much about Christian rock music I felt like I was being converted. Another wouldn't stop fidgeting wildly and looked around the room for the entire three minutes we were forced to converse. There was another guy who admitted he wasn't looking for a girlfriend and had been dragged to the event because he knew some people working there. I pitied him -- being forced to date against your will is even worse than being on a bad date.
Despite going on what felt like 60 of the things (even though it was only 20), I never met anybody I clicked with more than my first: the baby engineer.
Speed Dating Aftermath
When the final siren sounded, I went to grab my coat so as to beat the rush out of this place. As I waited in lin
e for my jacket at the coat check, I bumped into him again.
"Did you meet the man of your dreams?" he asked.
"No, did you?" I responded.
"Yes, I think I met the man of my dreams. But as far as the women, not sure, maybe," he answered.
He told me I was cool and mentioned that we should "pick" each other. (After you've dated all your potential mates, you're asked to log onto the Purple Lab Web site, where you write down the ID numbers of the top five guys or girls you'd want to go on a second date with. If they pick you, too, you'll be emailed their contact info.)
Earlier in the evening, I had the chance to talk to Steven Ward, the host, and I asked him for a little advice to share with the Lemondrop gals. Regarding girls making the first move he replied, "I admire that ... I appreciate that more than anything."
So I gave baby engineer my number. "You can just call me if you want to hang out ... or if you're ever in Hoboken," I boldly told him. He was slightly taken aback, but Steven was right -- he also seemed appreciative and handed over his phone so I could type in my digits.
It's been a few days since the speed-dating event now, and I have yet to hear from this guy. While I'm not necessarily parked by the phone, I am curious to see if he'll actually call. But I guess just like every first date -- even a three-minute one -- we just have to go with the flow and see what happens.
Emily Tan is a journalist and photographer based in New Jersey. She writes for Lemondrop and is adorable.
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