Read this for a woman's point of view:
Article from Complete Woman Magazine By Erin Brereton Nov/Dec 2002
I've certainly been on dates that I had wished would last for only three minutes, but this is my first actual experience doing the timed-encounter thing. I'd heard about it parties held
in bars or function centers promising 20 to 40 dates a night but so far, I'd been doing just the conventional dinner-and-a-movie thing (a cumbersome three hours or more).
When I arrive at Joe's, a Chicago bar located at 940 Weed Street that hosts a FastDater event every Monday night, the party room is empty except for the neat rows of tables, each bearing a flickering candle and a box of breath mints (all the ingredients you need for a date no matter how long it lasts, really). About 45 minutes before the event starts, people start filing into the room. . . checking each other out as they sign in, striking up conversations about why they decided to come. On my trek back from the bathroom I hear three women say, "I just figured, 'Why not?'" And really, why not?
"People say, 'Well, I can just go to a bar to meet someone,' but no, you really can't," says FastDater Founder Lisa Lombardi. "Everyone is here to meet people it's completely targeted." They why Lombardi, a busy marketing exec, started FastDater: She wanted to create a way to simplify (and streamline) dating.
Here's how the FastDater system works: You sign up via the Internet (there's also a phone number to call if you're not yet a motorist on the Information Superhighway), plunk down a $35 entry fee and show up at least 15 minutes before the event to register. Upon arriving, you get a nametag that is also marked with a number this is your identity for the next three hours. Then, when the party starts, the members of whichever gender are picked to move from table to table (on this night it was guys) are assigned a starting point, where they begin date No. 1. After three minutes, a buzzer bell rings, you mark down a simple "yes" or "no" on a score sheet and day hello to your next date.
Synchronize Your Watches
The buzzer rings and. . . we're off! Only not me. Because of a slight imbalance in gender numbers (there are a few more women present tonight), I am sitting alone during the first rotation. So far, FastDating feels like high school.
I listen to the chatter of the new couples surrounding me. . . introducing themselves, shaking hands, asking each other where they're from and then listening intently. Will it be difficult to strike up a conversation with a stranger? Who will start talking? What will they say? I'm totally weirded out.
And hungry. I decided my first three-minute date will be with the bowl of popcorn that's been placed on everyone's table. And if I dare say, I think there was some potential there.
With the second hum of the buzzer, I do get a date: And it's nowhere as weird as I think. You shake hands, you introduce yourselves, and you just start talking: Not bad. I can do that. We chat about Chicago, and our jobs.
After three minutes, the buzzer beeps, and we're both surprised. "Oh! It's such a short time!" I exclaim, for the first of 950 times that night. Because it really does go fast, in most instances. The unfortunate thing is it take some people a few minutes to warm up and a few minutes is all you have. Take for instance Shy Guy, who was quiet and withdrawn for the first two and a half minutes, then began to relax and laugh a sound that was completely droned out by the buzzer.
Too Much Information
Within the next hour I meet the following date prospects: the dean of a local college, a professional violinist and a very nice salesman. I have also met a man who wants two children, preferably within the next three years; a man who has an affinity for really bad lines and a man whose main hobby is breeding giant snakes. Lesson No. 1 of speedy dating: Don't lay too much on the line in three minutes. And lest you think it was just the men who put it all out there and then wished they could take it right back, I became stuck in a two and a half-minute attempt to prove I was not completely dorky after responding to a dater's initial question of, "So what do you do for fun?" with "I really want a cat!"
The other thing I'd recommend is not using cheesy lines to try to impress the other person. Nothing freezes a conversation faster than a doozer like, "Well, I'm really enjoying your eyes right now. . ." I had that little nugget tossed at me about a minute into a date, and I couldn't think of any other response than "Thank you, they came with my head," which was just as weird, and the rapport pretty much stopped there. I hope he did indeed like my eyes, because he had nothing to do for the next two minutes but stare at them in near silence.
But most of the guys are there for the same reason I am: They're sick of the traditional dating scene (crowded bars, bad blind dates). It's nice to be in a room of people who all want to meet someone. And there are some contenders: The very nice classical musician who loves Chicago; and administrator who has a great smile and great conversation. In fact, it's extremely clear when the buzzer goes off if there's future date potential or not you find yourself wishing some guys could stay and keep chatting!
Time To Go...
After more than three hours, the dates comes to a close. The verdict? For the semi-shy gal, speedy dating is a great thing. And for girls like me, who may be chatty but have no clue how to get their game on, it's a gift: Somebody else brings the men; we just have to talk. And then? Fill out your sheet (I checked off "yes" for several men, if you were wondering), hand it in and go home.
Two days after the dating event, I get an e-mail from FastDater with my matches. Twenty-two fellas marked me down as a yes (these are so much better than the odds I get when I go to bars). The day after that message arrives, I get three e-mails from guys who would actually like to chat for 60 minutes or more. Two are nice invitations for coffee and conversation; the other ends with "gotta go get horizontal" and I delete it.
Will I actually ever go on a date with any of my three-minute suitors? I'd really like to. We've been e-mailing, but the thing that drew many of us to FastDater may be the biggest obstacle to planning our next date: time. Trying to coordinate our schedules for a date that would last 60, maybe 90 or more minutes is turning out to be a difficult thing. Sure, we may not have time on our side, but we've already conquered the hardest part of dating meeting someone. As for the evening out? Only time will tell...