According to the owner of a Canadian company called Minidating, the concept of speed dating originated in Jewish communities as a way for busy people to meet potential mates.
After having heard so much about what I thought was the equivalent to assembly-line dating, I simply had to see for myself.
I started by typing “speed dating” into my browser and was amazed by the results. Speed dating is taking the world by storm -- and Canada is no exception.
On further investigation, I found www.minidating.ca, a web site for a company that provides this fascinating dating service in London, Ontario. Since you can reserve a spot online or on the phone, I chose to call 1-866-844-DATE (3283).
Sceptical as I was, I learned that Minidating has been holding age-categorized events for nearly two years. Maybe there’s something to it, if it’s lasted this long, I thought.
And so, $46 later, I was signed up for an event in my age category.
Although prices, repeat visit policies, and techniques vary for different companies, today I’ll simply tell you about my experience with Minidating.
The evening of the event:
It wasn’t until I emerged from the shower that the questions began to hit me. Hair up or hair down? Yikes, what is that blemish on my face? What will I wear?
Hair partly up with wisps left down, a dab of coverup here and there, and basic black clothes with my don’t-mess-with-me red blazer to scare off the skittish right away, and I was ready to go downtown to Old Chicago.
Suddenly I wasn’t just a columnist conducting research. I was a single woman on my way to be “interviewed” by ten men I’d never met. That’s when the big question came crashing over me: What if no one likes me?
Head up, shoulders back, I strutted into the bar as if I didn’t have a care in the world. If they only knew…
There we were: ten men and ten women, all vulnerable but eager to give this a shot. And may I add that none were circus freaks; in fact, most were quite attractive.
As the owner of the company, Brian Halford, personally described how the evening would unfold, you could almost feel the tension in the air begin to dissipate.
Brian instructed each man to join a woman at her table, and we had seven minutes to chat. Then he rang a bell, and all the men got up and shifted tables for our next mini-dates.
I was glad to see that, for privacy and security, we were asked not to reveal last names, telephone numbers, or places of employment during the event.
Between each “date,” we assessed the potential for chemistry and checked off on a card whether or not we’d like to see that person again.
I know what you’re thinking: seven minutes will not tell you if this is the person of your dreams. I agree, but I also agree with Brian when he said, “Better seven minutes than one long, four-hour date when it doesn’t work out.”
Interesting how seven minutes can be too short in some cases and in other cases seem like an eternity in the fiery pits of hell.
At the end of the evening, we all turned in our cards, which Brian would later check for matches of men and women who wanted to see each other again. Next, he contacts both parties, provides an e-mail address or phone number, and then he leaves it to the couple to go from there.
I’m not saying this form of mass dating will lead to happily ever after. However, sitting at home alone, watching others take a chance on reality shows like Blind Date and complaining that you never go out is definitely not enjoying the single life.
As much as I hate to admit when I’m wrong, I have to say it was fun. I think I’ll even get some of my single friends to come with me next time.
Have a question, a thought, or a story to share (anonymity guaranteed), e-mail Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published in The London Free Press on March 27, 2003.