A house party in an East London hotel. It’s the type of sentence only the really cool gang at school would ever have been able to brag.
But for the launch of new Dating App, My Mate Your Date, we were all going to pretend to be cool kids. The Hoxton Hotel was to host a house party for singles who had joined the app early. With free drinks, canapés, beer pong and a DJ. Usually the word ‘single’ in front of any party or event spreads the stench of desperation and a cloud of loneliness over the entire occasion. But as I walked past the Hoxton Hotel, on my way to meet my wingman of the moment, I had feeling ‘cool’ would triumph over tragicness this time…
My wingman, Daniel O’Donnell, no not that one, I think I would have a hard time pretending to clinging to any street crew with an 80’s Irish Folk singer in tow. Ok, Daniel with a ‘B’ O’Donnell is a journalist, not folk singer and a fellow blogger, who’s on a mission to get out of his comfort zone.
I think it’s fair to say, hipster house party in a Shoreditch hotel, crammed with supposedly eligible singels, is a little to the left of most of our comfort zones.
But Daniel was looking for something to write about on his As Yet Untold blog. And seeing as he’s already signed up to do a marathon, gone tech free for the day and agreed to take on the challenge of talking to people on public transport a singles party seemed like the ideal next challenge.
As per I was running a little late so my wingman was waiting for me outside The Book Club, a bar fast becoming one of my favourite spots in Shoreditch, where we’d decided to drum up a little ‘Dutch courage’ before the party.
Nestled in a corner of The Book Club, a portion of Dutch each, it became clear that Daniel and I were much more interested in talking shop than in dating events. What we were both writing about, why we wrote the blogs which we did, how tricky it is to date when I write a dating a blog…
The topic of conversation was well and truly fixed on work. Uh Oh. I couldn’t let the night slip away. I had promised to wingwoman the hell out of Daniel and I wasn’t going to go back from my word.
So what was his type? Of course every self-respecting man bypasses this question as best he can with a casual “Oh, I don’t really have a type” but we all know that’s a helping of BS.
So, where better to suss out a little on dating preferences and do some market research than on the very app for which we were attending the launch.
I loaded up My Mate Your Date on both of our phones and we began swiping through our friend’s friends from Facebook.
On My Mate Your Date you basically get the chance to swipe through the human flick book of dating opportunity as you do with Tinder, Hinge, Happn and most other online dating apps. The interesting part of MMYD, however, is when you choose the option for your friends to match you up with singles they think you’ll hit it off with.
The only problem here is convincing friends to download the app in the first place and then to take the trouble to play matchmaker.
However I do like the idea of matchmaking.
As we scrolled through possibly matches and tried to gather enough 3G signal to look at how to match make each other on the app I explained to Daniel I really don’t have a whole lot of faith in the longevity of relationships spawned out of geographical convenience alone.
If someone’s going to be a part of your life surely it works best if they naturally fit there in the first place? You share a common interest, goal, work place, favourite coffee shop or in the case of MMYD, a friend.
But I’m just not yet convinced that my friends or anyone else’s will put a whole lot of effort into downloading apps and scrolling for my love life.
This was backed up by the fact that we even quickly abandoned the app, for more drinks and to chat single events.
Daniel’s preconception was mainly that the night would comprise of desperate stereotypes. The ones you’d be likely to picture, when conjuring images of 90’s divorcees, at ‘last chance’ singles gatherings. But I reminded him that we were in East London and part of the generation who consider those without dating apps, an online profile or two in the archive, and plans for at least one date with a relative stranger later in the week, to be the ‘abnormal’ ones.
With that in mind we marched off towards The Hoxton Hotel. Minor trepidations from the man outside his comfort zone and the realisation that I would need to lead by example settling in for me. Great.
Confident face, Janey.
I walked straight up to the reception desk. The front of house bar was brimming with Friday night fun, but there was no sign of anyone from My Mate Your Date. We were admittedly a little more than fashionably late. So much so that by the time we weaved our way into the collection of back rooms hosting the party, the bar was predictably out of free drinks and there wasn’t a canapé in sight.
No matter. Spirits were high, we grabbed two overpriced drinks and begun our tour through the House (Launch) Party.
Ok, this wasn’t bad, the app had done a good job. I felt as though I had wangled an invite to one of the popular girls house parties from back in sixth form. The venue was even decked out with homely furnishings. Books, lamps, dressers, the bar was in fact in a kitchen. So the scene was set.
“Everyone seems so normal” Daniel shouted into my ear above the noise of the DJ.
We found the room with Beer Pong and got into people watching.
The event was most certainly less date and more launch. The company had done a good job of making me feel as though I was part of something cool (over use of that word) and exclusive, but there was little emphasis on flirting and singles. Pretty much a regular night, which in normal circumstances would have filled me with relief. I love a chance to just enjoy a party and let things happen organically. However I’d promised Daniel a night outside of his comfort zone.
After a few more drinks and couple more circuits of the party we decided splitting up was the most successful tactic for talking to members of the opposite sex. We clearly looked as though we had already coupled up, great, but not the objective of the evening.
Within five minutes I’d spoken to three guys. All of whom were accountants, all friends of the app’s founders, only one was single and none of whom did I fancy. Pretty poor stats even for a group of accountants. I looked around but the guys left standing appeared to be mainly beyond drunk or already tied up talking to girls. I drummed my fingers waiting for Daniel to report back.
When he didn’t I went on a little wander and found him talking to an overly enthusiastic Kiwi. Her smile was fixed and big and made the apples of her cheeks look as if they might explode.
She shook my hand straight away and almost entirely adverted all of her attention to me. The three of us were then stuck making awkward small talk for what felt like until next year.
Somehow it was then decided that seeing as the party was beginning to wrap up (it was reaching 11:30pm) we would move to the front of house bar where the smiley Kiwi’s friends would meet us. Great. Maybe they were normal.
The party had begun so well, with lively, exciting people seemingly on tap. But somehow a mix of our late arrival and the fact we had been inadvertently ‘cock blocking’ each other meant that we had missed the boat with all the cool norms.
As we got to the bar we were greeted by two more shiney, smiley Kiwis each more glossy than the last. What was this, a club?
I turned to Daniel who luckily voiced my exact thoughts.
“I don’t think I can do this”
“What shall we do?”
“Run?” I offered as a joke but his eyes lit up
“What do you want to drink guys?” The Kiwi suddenly addressed us
“Erm” I stalled “Not sure”
Daniel looked panicked. We needed an escape. As they turned away I said, “Ok go!”
We fled out into the night reaching the street and not turning back until we were a good distance from The Hoxton Hotel.
“Have you ever run away from a singles event before?” He asked.
“First time for everything!”
We giggled and made our way to another bar for a debrief on the night. A debrief and hassle free, Kiwi free cocktails.
So My Mate Your Date looks like an interesting app with potential for matches that might actually stick. They certainly throw a fun party, and seem to have drummed up a cool crowd of young people to start using the app.
But the night was not quite a singles event. So I’m not sure Daniel was ever outside of his comfort zone, perhaps just a toe over the line, but I don’t think I’ve scared or embarrassed him quite enough yet.
So I’m inviting him to a real dating event, where I can serve my duty of wingwoman fully. Keep your eyes peeled for where I drag him to next!
Read Daniel’s versions of events here
And find out more about My Mate Your Date here.