Ding dong; times up – My time with 28GaysLater24th April 2014
I never know how to start an article. Do you start off on a good point? A question? A statement or even a show stopper? You want something that grabs attention while at the same time doesn’t scare people or make them think that you’re a bit of a nutter. Having said that, I do like the nutter route therefore this month’s opening statement is “Speed Dating – is it misunderstood?”★★★★
Now if I say to you that I was and have been speed dating what is your immediate response? Am I desperate? Am I needy? Was it me and a room full of older men? Or are you curious as it’s something that you’ve always wanted to do but there is that stigma out there that only certain people need or go to speed dating.
I’m currently not looking for a partner as I’m only recently single and life is a bit of a mess lately however this month an opportunity came up to go along to an event called ‘28 Gays Later’ and having been speed dating before some years ago I couldn’t refuse the chance to go again. Now clear your mind of that dirty thought or any thoughts that it was just like the horror movie and you have an event in a trendy east London bar with, quite literally, 28 gay eligible bachelors (well, 27 plus me).
You start off, or at least I started off, in the bar area of a bar called “McQueens” near old street in London. Once you have a drink (or Dutch courage) you head through into a designated area where tables are laid out to accommodate 14 “couples”. You are given a number and your name on a sticker and invited to sit at any table you fancy. Me being me sought out my fellow gin drinkers and used that as an excuse to spark up a conversation. A good topic I thought??
Once everyone arrives the rules are simple, you can take notes and are encouraged to do so and have 3 minutes to get to know your “partner” and for them to get to know you. Once the gong sounds you move on and this continues until everyone has seen everyone.
I tried to take notes but what do you make notes on? And how are you meant to write stuff down, ask questions and keep eye contact to ensure the ‘date’ goes well? My poor gay man’s brain did struggle slightly so I simply write down name, number and something unique about them that would help me remember them. Bob, 27, Tall and Irish… that sort of thing.
We were all given little cards and told that anyone we liked we could write their number on it, say who we were (our name & number, so I was Scott 23), indicate if we wanted friends or a date and provide whatever contact details we wanted. They were then put in little envelopes and delivered to you discretely at the end of the night.
I did quite well out if the night I thought. 6 messages; all of them really nice, of the 6 or so I delivered a couple have since messaged me and we have been texting. I spent most of the night swooning over a 6ft7 20 something man (tall guys are a big button pusher, especially as I’m 6ft3 so people taller than me are rare). A few others caught the eye, including some Irish guys, a very cocky (and charming) Liverpudlian and a fellow 27 year old that was there as it was one of his 27 things to do as part of turning 27.
Like me most people where there not out of desperation or a need to find someone but actually just wanted to meet people in a different way. To be reminded that there are fellow “normal people” out there and not have to meet them via the wonder that is ‘dating apps’ or in gay bars.
At the end of the night a few of us stayed behind in the bar and had a general chat and a few more drinks. Because of the format of the night the atmosphere was relaxed and people mingled and talked to each other. Something almost unheard of in London.
While I’m still not looking for love just yet the night, for me, was a reminder that there is a world out there and that the confidence to see that world does still exist in me. I hope, based on current communication, that I’ve made some new friends or at the very least “flirting banter buddies”. For those that are interested I would highly recommend speed dating, both in general with the 28gayslater company. Even for those that are not looking for love I’d still recommend you attend. It does wonders for the confidence and social skills, and if you have just moved to an area you get to know a new venue and meet local people. Far be it for me to be “mushy” but you may well even find an unexpected love or a date.
So glad I went along, would go again and recommend to others