What is Speed Dating Like? I’ll Tell You.

I went speed-dating for the first time ever tonight. Partly because it was on my bucket list of things to do, and partly because I thought it might be nice to meet people from outside my usual circle of social media friends. In that respect, I’m glad I went. Being a nerd, of course, prior to going I tried researching it to see what to expect and couldn’t find many people’s experiences. So, I thought I’d write one! (Which explains the blatantly obvious search-engine bait of this post’s headline.)

The Night

I’d originally planned to do this last month — signed up, paid ($50), got all dressed up, and showed up — only to find that the speed-dating company (Fastlife) and the venue had a miscommunication and the place was locked. So tonight I basically spent the comp they gave me.

Because I’m a masochist, I scheduled a couple of heavy-duty teeth fillings on the same day as speed-dating. I’m SMRT that way. <sigh> I thought it might make something funny to bring up in conversation, but then thought “Oh, god, they’ll think my mouth is fully of rotten teeth!”

That’s sort of what my brain was doing the whole time — drawing on my old skills as a radio host, I thought it might be good to have a few things to say in my back pocket in case the conversation crept to a lull. But every time I thought of one, it went immediately to The Worst Thing Ever. Some examples:

  • “I’d been meaning to try this for a while now.”
    (Read: “Oh god, he’s been single for decades!”)
  • “It’s funny; it’s been a while since I’ve even been in a bar!”
    (Read: “Oh god, he’s an alcoholic.” — which, if you know me well, will know why this made me chuckle a bit)
  • “Why did you decide to do speed-dating?”
    (Read: “You look like the kind of girl who’s tried everything else, and this is your last shot.”

Somehow, I mustered up the courage and went in.

It was held in some Yaletown lounge/restaurant. The group had the entire upstairs to itself, which was nice.


“Dress to impress” said the reminder email. This had me more nervous than the whole thing, I think. I have, essentially, two outfits: Business and Casual. And when I say I only have two outfits, I don’t mean that I have two “looks” which are made up of a variety of clothing options — I have two outfits. That’s all.

  • Business: Blue Oxford shirt and beige kakhis (both from The Gap).
  • Casual: Red striped t-shirt under a soft red long-sleeved shirt, and beige cargo pants.

I guarantee that when you next see me, I will be wearing one of two of these outfits. (I do have other clothing, of course, but rarely wear it. I’m becoming a creature of habit, routine, and structure these days.)

So needless to say, I didn’t know what “dress to impress” meant. In the end, I comprimised: Casual outfit on top, black slacks, and black shoes (and matching socks — matching! I know!).

Since it was in Yaletown, I’d normally have taken my scooter over, but considering I’d managed to get my hair in a not-totally-embarrassing condition (and locked it in place with eight pounds of hair spray), I didn’t want a helmet to jumble it up. I took a cab and only then did I realize my black pants were completely covered with cat fur, courtesy of my two kitties! I mean covered — making the pants nearly look grey. By total luck, I had one of those lint tape-roller things in my jacket pocket from when I wanted to use it on the way to a speech. Amazing serendipity. And good fortune, because the lighting in the place was good enough that it would have revealed the true me — a crazy cat lady.

How It Worked

There were about 15 women and 15 men. The women had “their” tables, from which they didn’t move; the men circulated every time a glass was tinked — every eight minutes. Each table had a number on it, which, while perhaps a little dehumanizing, proved helpful for us guys to know which direction to go to.

At the end of the first five rounds, there was a trivia question to answer. Fastlife seems to really pump up how much fun you’ll have, that it’s not just speed-dating, there are games involved!!! But really, it was five fairly boring trivia questions (what date is the election, and who is the leader of the Bloc Québequois were two of them). The prize was apparently a bottle of wine, but we never heard who won.

You’re given a card on which you write your date’s name, then tick Yes or No to indicate if you’d like to see them again. If, on their card, they’ve put a checkmark by your name, you’re both told about it by email the next day. I failed to see until it was too late that there’s a part of the card I could keep where I should have been taking notes on the women I wanted to see again. I’m really bad with names, so I fear if I get matched up, my first words will be “Which one were you again?” — which will likely kill any chance of a second date.

The Men

I didn’t talk to any of the other guys there — to be honest, in the 25 minute wait for it to start, I buried my head in my iPhone. I know, not exactly a great first impression, but there it is.

Turns out I needn’t have worried about my clothing, since most of the men were wearing the Vancouver “Hey, I’m a casual guy” outfit — worn-in jeans, a shirt, and a blazer.

“You’re an engineer, I’ll bet,” said the last of my ‘dates.’ “All the guys here tonight are engineers,” she yawned. “Engineers and one doctor.”

The Women

With one exception, all the women were very friendly, outgoing, easy to smile, and both offered information about themselves and asked me about myself. (The one exception was an otherwise pleasant woman who gently but firmly chastised me for asking what she did for a living. It’s apparently one of those over-used questions that organizers discourage you from asking, but there wasn’t a single “date” where one of us asked the other that directly. Also on the banned list: Is this your first speed-dating? Have you always lived in Vancouver? and What do you do for fun? I mean — what’s left?!)

I was actually surprised that nobody asked me what I did for fun. I’m glad, really, because the honest answer is: “I sit at home with my cats and watch documentaries about the Kennedy assassination.” (Slight exaggeration, but just slight.) I also never heard of asked “Have you ever been married?” “Do you have any kids?” or “Do you have any pets?”)

There were quite a few women who were currently living elsewhere but moving here soon, and some who had just gotten here. All were smart and quick-witted, perhaps because the speed-dating theme I chose was “University-Educated” — which while technically that rules me out (I only have two years of formal post-secondary education), I think the fact that I lecture regularly at universities makes up for that. :-) Lots of different jobs: a nurse for pre-mature babies, someone studying to be an architect, a yoga instructor and nightclub DJ, and so on.

How I Did

All in all, I’m glad I went. As I say, 80% of the night’s purpose was to try it and check it off my bucket list.

At the end of the night, I decided to reward myself with a little present to myself for mustering up the courage to do the night. As I often do, I checked into my location with a location-aware app, which posted the following to my Facebook wall (right after the above status update that I’d gone speed-dating):

My friends have warped senses of humour, so I felt compelled to add this, just in case they misunderstood what I was buying at a drug store:

I’ll update this post if (a) one of my two matches replies, and (b) pigs are seen flying.

Update: The Next Day

I got this in my email:

THE RESULTS: omg! My matches also picked me. Whoa. What have I gotten myself into! LOL!