You know that feeling you get down the back of your neck when you can feel someone’s watching you? Sometimes you’re not sure if you made it up, if you’re imagining it, or if somewhere deep inside you just want to be watched? To have someone’s gaze hanging on you.
Well have you ever been in a room and felt that 100 times over?
That’s a little bit what it’s like when you go to a singles event.
Every time you ‘make eyes’ across the room you know that there’s a possibility you’re making eyes with a future date. It’s honest and bold but reassuring. Everyone is in the same bag. And, everyone in that bag has at least one thing in common, other than the fact they’re single.
They’re adventurous enough to go to be there with you.
This is actually a very reassuring little detail to keep in your back pocket. Because, when someone approaches you at the bar you know they’re not judging you for being there. They’re not imagining what a loser you are for daring to go out and label yourself ‘Single’, because then, wouldn’t they also fall into that category?
As terrifying as it sounds? Well yes, but I’ll get to that.
Late, I jump out of my cab, as I’m wondering whether I’m in the right place I round the corner and see the queue. The invite had said ‘Arrive on time’. I was only 15 minutes late, good by my standards, but this was clearly a popular event. So, by the time I got inside and navigated the next queue, this time for the cloakroom. Then abandoned that idea, instead deciding to stash my jacket (like a teenager) in the DJ booth; I missed the free cocktail at the bar. These were served between 7pm and 8pm.
It was 8:06pm when I order a double Gin and Tonic and was thankfully pre-warned that it would cost me £21. Instead I leaned in and shouted to the Bartender, ‘How much is a large glass of your house white?’ Classy to the core.
Sipping on my £7 Chardonnay, which tasted cheaper still, I finally relaxed.
After a little while of sussing out the scene, surveying all the singles and their name tags, making friends with a couple of girls who worked in fashion and together making polite yet awkward conversation a few of the keener gentlemen in the room, the Live Matchmaking kicked off.
This was the first time I’d heard of this type of event and I was excited to see how the night would work. Live on the spot matchmaking, with only the aid of an online compatibility survey around 48 hours previous. But like most things dating in London the matchmaking didn’t take itself too seriously. The room was punctuated with giggles as our host began calling out the names of those who were to be coupled up.
Not everyone in the room was to be matched, that’s made clear on the invitations, so there was a definite flurry of anticipation as names were called. I felt equal measures of dread at not hearing my name, and at the same time, at hearing my name.
Whilst waiting for the possibility of a private date with my ‘Live Match’ I tried to avoid eye contact with a few gentlemen with whom I wasn’t so keen to chat.
However, at that moment I felt the gaze on the back of my neck. That gaze. As I turned around I realised it wasn’t actually a gaze at all, it was actually very much, a stare. A stare emulating from what I can only describe as a giant. As soon as our eyes met he took this as his cue to lean in and try to kiss me on the cheek. But somewhere between his height and my shock this didn’t go so well and I heard rather than felt his damp kiss on my ear.
Now, I try to make it a rule to be friendly and open to possibility, whenever I am out, at a singles event or otherwise. But as I backed off a little, giggling through my embarrassment, the ear kisser moved in. Apparently from up in the rafters personal space was a difficult concept to grasp and navigate. Feeling a little hemmed in I began awkward conversation number four of the evening. I was getting good at it.
Ear Kisser had broad a smile to match board shoulders, dark eyes and a rumbling laugh. But somehow these traits translated into scary rather than the typically desired, ‘tall dark and handsome’, for which there was definite potential. Keeping one eye on the Live Matchmaking and the other on Ear Kisser, he told me rather sweetly that I was the prettiest girl in the room, and he really hoped he would be matched with me. This is not typical behaviour at a singles event. But, Ear Kisser had no concept of cool, clearly. Honestly I was a little nervous in his company. Finally however my name was called. I almost ran to the stage.
And as I ran I heard that my match would be someone named Cameron. Neither Ear Kisser nor any other of the three men I had enjoyed awkward exchanges with that night had nametags that read ‘Cameron’. So as I reached our host with his microphone I have a feeling I was positively beaming.
I turned to face my audience almost as eager as I was to meet my match. I faced them and I waited. I waited for what felt like a minutes but was probably a matter of seconds. Breathing through my wine glass I tried to remain casual whilst searching the room. Come on Cameron.
Final call for Cameron...
Was Cameron a ‘no show’? Had he picked the wrong time to slip off to the loo? Maybe he was trying to avoid his own scary giant. Or worse of all, had he seen me and decided, ‘no’?
I was ready to slink off back into the crowd, head hung low, as the girl whose match had never shown, but then our host called out:
“Anyone else want to date Janey?”
I stared in horror. I was up for auction. Then I remembered I had some 300 eyes on me, so I smiled and did my best to look like a viable ‘lot’, worth a bid.
Then before anyone could make a movement to suggest that they wished to date me, up shot a hand in the crowd; flying forward was Ear Kisser!
One hand still raised in victory the other clasped firmly gripping my wrist EK lead me off for our private date.
Everyone who was matched on the night was shown to the lovely, yet cold, gardens at The Kensington Roof Gardens. Thankfully we found an outdoor heater where another of our hosts left us to ‘get to know each other better’.
The private date must have lasted no longer than 20 minutes but it had felt very much like 20 minutes. After shivering under the outdoor heater and talking mostly about Chelsea FC, EK finally offered me the jacket he had been carrying all evening. He was sweet. But at the price of being very dim. Dim and starey. He told me that he’d never really kissed a girl and he was hoping that we would kiss later that night. God he really had no cool, did he? I lied and told him I never kiss on a first date so we hugged instead. A happy compromise.
Then I put him on Tinder. Ok, extreme behaviour for a first date, I know. But he wasn’t taking any of my more subtle hints so I felt the occasion called for an app. I then gave him a fake number and hid in the loos. He hadn’t taken the Tinder hint either and had indeed tried to kiss me. Not on the ear this time.
It turns out the ladies loos were a little haven for women hiding out. A bustle of borrowing lip-gloss and hairbrushes and exchanging stories about the guys with bad breath and the ones we couldn’t believe had actually shown up: Surely guys that good looking didn’t need to go to singles events? But thankfully they did!
The good thing about hiding out at a singles event is you don’t have to hide for long. The men there seemed to be fickle creatures and as every woman seemed to be a prize up for grabs they move on a lot quicker than in a regular nightclub.
Happily, upon sneaking out of the ladies, I was invited into the VIP area. Which we all know, no mater how un-VIP, always makes you feel cooler than everyone else in the club. Even if you did hide your jacket in the DJ booth.
There I met a Doctor who listened to Fleetwood Mac and Belle and Sebastian and didn’t try to kiss any part of my head or stare at me.
The Doctor told me off for drinking the cheap wine and made the bold statement of ordering us the next one down on the menu. A whole 50p more expensive per glass. I couldn’t tell you if this was an improvement or not as I was a few glasses deep. Instead I steered the conversation onto trying to get a free diagnosis of the Eczema on my arm… I really was a fair few Chardonnays deep.
Surprisingly he asked for my number and unsurprisingly I gave him my real one. A good looking Doctor with the same taste in music as me, why not? Although there was also that mild panic in my stomach of leaving without anyone’s digits.
I think there’s a little more pressure on a singles night than ordinary nights out. There’s no mystique to the occasion. You’re there for a soul purpose. While I like the honesty in that, with the straight talking tone, it definitely can distract from a good night out.
However, first fifteen minutes of nerves and queuing aside, the night with Date in a Dash was a lot of fun. The added element of the ‘Live Matchmaking’ had given everyone an icebreaker. It prompted fun conversations about bad first dates and ideal matches. I spoke to way more men than I would have at an ordinary event and there was a really fun atmosphere to the night. Sure, I’d do it again. I met some great people, guys and girls. Had a lot to giggle about in the ladies loos and for days after the night.
What’s more it worked! Not only did I come away with a phone number at least one girl I met on the night has a date this week with her Live Match!
My verdict is if you don’t take yourself too seriously and can stomach a little nerves and awkwardness this is a great event! Go with a friend, open up and see what happens. It definitely beats all those non-conversations over dating apps you’ve already had on countless other Friday nights.
Click Here to see Date in Dash’s upcoming events.