Strangers in the Night: Speed-Dating in L.A. (Part One) by Sophie Kipner

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illustration by Brandon Francis

PART ONE
Accelerated Romance

There is a Band-Aid for the love-impoverished, but it costs about $36 and it doesn’t include a martini. Our quick-fixing society has found yet another way to cut the bullshit to under five minutes with the advent of speed dating. But while the bandage may stick at first, it ends up just sliding off with nothing much to hold on to. We either need better adhesives or we will just have to keep dating the old fashioned way. I vote for Velcro: it sticks but there’s no commitment, and it’s flexible enough for a fickle city like LA.

I am the first to admit I am no dating pro, nor do my experiences render me fit to give advice. I am, however, familiar with this city’s dating dance, and I’ve acquired a set of expectations, fantasies, and reservations to which the dickless race may collectively relate. Feeling well equipped to explore the polarized views of dating in L.A., FORTH writer Marco Mannone and I volunteer ourselves as subjects of none other than speed dating. Armed with notions from philosopher Malcolm Gladwell, who thinks we make accurate conclusions about people in two seconds, I think five minutes per date should be plenty of time. Unless of course you are left wanting more than five minutes with a stranger, which would be the case we’re all hoping for.

Rolling the dice with a simple Google search, we found SpeedLA Dating, the site with a most perplexing tag line: “Cheeky Fun @ STK—Speed Dating UK Style—Fancy a Go?” It boasts itself as some sort of British speed-dating service, but provides no explanation why. With the exception that the two “playful” hosts are British and the word “fancy” and “cheeky” are thrown in for good measure, it appears to be a typical speed dating experience. One review from L.A. Talk Radio claims, “SpeedLA Dating is the hippest way to meet quality singles.” Also mentioned is that if I get there by 7:30, I’ll get a “stunning, complimentary makeover by a certified cosmetologist.” The most fascinating element of SpeedLA Dating is equally the most bizarre: the chance to find Marley, their resident stuffed bear, to win a whopping $50!

Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink advocates that within the first two seconds of meeting someone, our minds make a series of conclusions that, as he explains, are usually quite accurate. After reviewing questionnaires in a study on speed dating, Gladwell concludes that the qualities candidates want in an ideal date don’t match their subconscious preferences. For one reason or another, we like to second-guess these conclusions or disregard them altogether; but in doing so, we just take longer to arrive at the same point. Aware that I tend to go for men I probably shouldn’t, I am all for putting myself in a situation where I could be enchanted by Mr. Unexpected.


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  1. January 18, 2010 @ 3:39 pm Jayden

    I have been curious about speed dating for a long time, I am so glad i got to experience it without actually having to experience it! great article.

  2. April 18, 2010 @ 4:58 pm Forth Magazine | Los Angeles Writing and Art | Issue 7 | Forth Magazine Issue 7

    […] Strangers in the Night: Speed-Dating in L.A. (Part One) by Sophie Kipner […]

  3. April 24, 2010 @ 7:51 pm david h

    fascinating and really well written. the recounting of similar events from different perspectives is surprisingly engaging and a great idea for all kind of stories. keep going with it.

    i just stumbled on your site and im glad i did. i think i’ll stay a while and look around if you dont mind.

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