From the staff

Column: Speed dating puts meeting and greeting on a fast track

sspring@newsobserver.comFebruary 14, 2013 

Susan Spring


On this day after Valentine’s Day, kudos to those of you who had a nice romantic evening.

But for those who did not have that special someone to snuggle with Thursday, take heart and read on.

Dating these days just isn’t what it used to be. In fact, it seems that men seldom ask women out on real dates anymore. You know, dinner and a movie — that sort of thing.

Nowadays, it seems that the unhitched often search for their intended using various websites. Sometimes this yields great success.

But for those of us who are not tech-savvy, who are short on time or just plain scared, events such as speed dating can offer advantages.

Raleigh-Durham event coordinator Michael Pocinki said he has seen a number of success stories among participants. Because I am a busy person it appealed to me as a way to meet a number of prospects face-to-face in a safe place all in one night.

Speed-dating events usually take place in a restaurant/bar, beginning with people gathering in the bar.

This is the ice-breaking part of the program. Yes, men (and women) may be eyeing the figures of potential suitors during this stage. Others may be trying to determine whether that really is a Rolex someone is wearing or a one-letter-off imitation.

By the time the group moves to the event room, many folks already know whose name will get a “let’s talk” checkmark during the speed dating and whose name will get a “no thanks.”

The next part — a structured, timed event — takes place in a room with small tables. All contestants have a number and two forms — one to turn in and one on which to take notes to keep. Each woman stays put at an assigned table.

The room grows quieter as the mood changes to “down to business.” After brief instructions from the organizer, the games begin. This was the only time I felt awkward and nervous, but only briefly. Once the actual speed dating begins, men and women talk for five minutes each. It’s a frenzy of questions, answers and note-taking. (No. 5 had black hair and a green sweater. No. 6 likes to jog. No. 9 is a Cubs fan).

Granted, this is done not so much to determine long-term compatibility, but to remember who is who when it is all over.

The energy level is high, and laughter abounds.

During half-time, the women chat as they wait in line to use the ladies’ room. We begin to compare notes. “That doctor, No. 8, named John was cute.” “Doctor? He told me he is a lawyer.”

One can only imagine what is being said in the men’s room. It occurs to me that even if I do not meet the love of my life, I will probably make some new friends.

As the event resumes, every time the bell sounds, the men stand in unison and move one table down. By the time number 15 sits down my head is spinning.

When it is all over, the organizer collects all the “report cards.” If a woman and a man both circled “let’s talk” beside each other’s number, it’s a match. Each will get the other’s email address the next day.

At the end of your individual list, you will see the names of those who “yessed” you but whom you “no thanked.” They will not get your contact information, but you have the opportunity to contact them if you so choose.

After the speedy event, it is back to old-fashioned dating with phone calls, emails, texts and conversations.

Dinner and a movie, anyone?

Susan Spring is newsroom administration manager. or 919-829-4860

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