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3 Lessons for Speed Dating

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Single City is a twice-weekly blog about the Chicago dating scene written by Sun-Times Media Wire reporter Sally Ho. Got a question? Email her!

There are many conquests on the average Single Life’s Bucket List – crazy sexual escapades, dates with a millionaire and the race to see how many people you can make out with on one backpacking trip through Europe, are common items.

But it is speed dating that is perhaps among the most synonymous for such a youthful list of reckless dating and mating. And like an elderly man who checks off sky diving, speed dating is an exciting unknown that you’ve probably “always wanted to try,” although the fear of throwing up in your mouth was also omnipresent.

On a warm June evening, I had 17 mini-blind dates in under two hours thanks to an event for college educated 20- and 30-somethings that was organized by Date and Dash (

Created five years ago by local businessman Vilius Gavrilenka, the speed dating service claims a 90 percent success rate with about 30,000 people who have gone through the service in their database. Multiple marriages and hundreds if not thousands of relationships formed, Date and Dash is so confident you’ll go on at least one date from the event, the service promises to give you another event for free if you aren’t matched. At an average ticket price of $35, it is also among the best deals and most popular in the Chicago area and across the nation.

Here’s how it works: You show up at a designated place, in this case Salud Tequila Lounge, and get a number, where the women are sent to a table and the men rotate through every three minutes (depending on how many people show up). You decide yes or no to each person you meet on a sheet, which also has room fore notes. Then you turn it in and go online to input your “yes” choices to an automated matching system. If you chose “yes” to someone who also chooses you, you’ll be given each other’s contact information and the rest of the courtship is then up to you. So if and when you are ready to jump, heed the following advice:

1) Go men, go! The ladies, dressed for love (or at least a sexy conversation) who came with their girlfriends in tow, probably averaged a 6 on a list of 1 to 10 in attractiveness. The men, who mostly came alone, were probably closer to a 4. The women also out-numbered the men by a few people, making this event extremely man-friendly. As if you guys needed any more advantages in dating!

2) Something for everyone. Professionals with college degrees, older men/younger women (where the women go for free if they are 21 to 33 years old and the men are 35 to 50), older woman/younger men, interracial, gay men, book lovers, Desi professionals, “active singles” hosted at a gym and alcohol-friendly singles hosted at a grocery store, are just some of the extremely specific speed dating events Date and Dash offers. Those generically single can also, of course, just attend the most popular category of singles 24 to 34 years old.

3) Target practice. After a dozen plus (varies from event to event) three-to-five minute first/blind date'esque conversations, you’ll master how to flawlessly answer all the common first/blind date questions. You’ll instantly recognize chemistry and the lack of. You’ll have good practice soberly talking to/trying to charm strangers. Consider it target practice for the future. "This is like going through human profiles," bossman Gavrilenka said of why speed dating is more hands-on, fun, and lively than online dating. "It's fun."

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I read this blog and its fantastic and hilarious!

I'm not such a fan of Date and Dash (maybe they work better in Chicago than in Philly--see my blog for a hellish anecdote), but you're absolutely right about the male/female ratio and attractiveness. Why aren't there more cool guys speed dating?

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Wood published on July 1, 2010 10:27 AM.

3 Things To Do Today was the previous entry in this blog.

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