Author: Ann Marie Trietley
In the grunge-era classic Singles, twentysomething Debbie Hunt – said to “consume men instead of food” – joins video dating service Expect the Best. She commissions “the next Martin Score-ceez” to shoot her profile and gets introduced to men through a video montage. There’s a turtleneck-clad Billy Corgan-lookalike craving someone “willing to experiment”; a man who says he’s “very, very, very lonely”; and a guy who slowly pokes a needle through a balloon to demonstrate the delicate nature of love. She chooses “Bicycle Guy” (who from the looks of his video might actually be in love with his bike), gears up in hot pink Spandex, and pedals across town to meet him at Sea Merchant. Unfortunately, she’s at the wrong Sea Merchant. She goes home (it’s pre-cell phones), only to discover “Bicycle Guy” making popcorn with her roommate.
The Internet brought new ways to dial-up a love connection. You’ve Got Mail (1998), showed us it’s possible to fall in love inside an AOL chat room (A/S/L, anyone?). Napoleon Dynamite (2004) attests to online dating’s once socially-marginalized rep when Napoleon’s awkward brother Kip (who had “been talking to babes online all day”) meets LaFawnduh from the comfort of his Idaho living room. (Spoiler alert – they wind up happily ever after).
Now that we’re in the Swipe Right/Swipe Left Generation, there’s always an opportunity to meet someone new. Whether you’re on Tinder, Grindr, Bumble, or Badoo – there’s more choices than ever before. Will these apps help singles find love this year?
This is where Brandy McLaughlin, Assistant Sales & Marketing Manager at Expo (617 Main St.) comes in. Inspired by how Tinder has influenced contemporary dating, she planned the Tinder Speed-Dating Challenge for 6 p.m on Saturday, Feb 11.
Guests don’t need to be on Tinder. Over the course of a few speed-dating rounds, each person will have to “swipe left” or “swipe right” with the arrows provided. When both parties swipe right, it’s a match. Eventually, everyone will be narrowed down to matches after rounds of questions. Questions for the first round will be basic; the next round, more complex.
Matches will then compete with each other for the grand prize: a $200 dinner from Sear Steakhouse and a $200 night stay at the Lafayette Hotel (don’t worry, you do not need to redeem the prize that night).
“It will be a fun carefree environment,” McLaughlin says, “and the open bar will give people liquid courage.” From 6 p.m. until 7, guests can sip and mingle á laMillionaire Matchmaker. “We are screening everyone [through preliminary applications] just so that we have enough people in the competition. Everyone is welcome to come.”
RSVP by emailing email@example.com and a short preliminary app will be sent to you. (It includes sexual preference, age, top three qualities in a match, and favorite band). It’s $10 to participate.
Sales & Events Manager Melanie Klaja’s goal is to have 50 guys and 50 girls at the event.
“Swiping left or right is literally the most superficial thing you can do,” Klaja says, “so by also asking questions during each round, you will get to know people a little better. Chemistry depends on body language, charisma, confidence.. But this is still like Tinder because it’s fast-paced. You’re meeting someone right away but now having the opportunity to get to know them better.”
That’s something that actual Tinder doesn’t provide; at the Expo event, you will be meeting matches on the fly, and will be able to absorb their vibe in the moment. Because, as we all know, a lot depends on that elusive thing called “chemistry”.
“Men and women can be different in what they value in relationships,” Klaja says, “so initially it’s going to depend on if they are attracted to each other.”
We’ve all heard stories from “Tindertown”, or other dating apps – that friend who met a guy on Grindr who had to leave Rue Franklin because of a medical emergency (we won’t go there); the coworker who had a guy flat-out ask for casual sex (who hasn’t?); that person from high school who met their spouse on Plenty of Fish (like finding a Cartier diamond in Lake Erie, am I right?).
“I was on Tinder, Plenty of Fish, Bumble…” says a man drinking beer inside a hipster cafe. “On Tinder, it’s mostly about looks. But if you create attraction in the moment, looks do not matter.”
“All I know is,” says his friend, who’s reading a book and applying Burt’s Bees, “when I saw the girl I exchanged 15 lines with on Tinder in person, she was way more smitten and not so much on Tinder.”
Klaja and McLaughlin agree that, through observations from working in the bar scene, men go out later than ladies do, typically around 11 pm. They also say the ‘magic hour’ for nightlife is around 9:30pm and 10pm, when you have the happy hour and late night crowds together.
“We planned this event early, so men will need to go out earlier than they usually do,” Klaja says.
Tons of beautiful women have RSVPed, so there’s really no reason for men not to go. The Tinder Speed-Dating Challenge brings “speed dating” to the Swipe Right/Swipe Left Generation, and will hopefully pair up some hot couples for Valentine’s Day. All I know is, whether you meet your soulmate there or not, it sure beats staying home and watching reruns of ElimiDate.
Tinder Speed-Dating Challenge, 6 p.m, Saturday, Feb. 11. Expo Market, 617 Main St. 855-3976. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org.