Gone in 360 Seconds

Posted by Pete DeMola on 11. Feb 2009

"Speed dating is romantic networking,” said Allison Johnson, co-founder of the Beijing-based Speed Dating Specialists, in an email. “Not everyone is comfortable approaching strangers and starting a conversation: you don’t have to be nervous about approaching someone new—it happens for you.”
The formula for this relatively-new dating phenomenon may alleviate some pre-date jitters: “It’s a simple format that allows each guy and girl a six minute opportunity to get to know each other,” Johnson, a Los Angeles native, explained.
Here’s how it works:

Each guy will have six minutes to speak with a girl, and will rotate to the next one after the round is over. At the end of each event, Johnson explained, each participant will fill out a card—an exit poll of sorts—to determine the relationship’s trajectory.
Participants can choose to be friends, go on a date, or simply opt for no further communication. A few days later, the Specialists—which also includes Warsaw native Ola Zdzarska—will send out emails with any matching results.
Space for the monthly events are usually limited to 15 of each gender: “Fifteen back-to-back conversations are usually exhausting, and any more will be brutal,” Johnson said, adding that the participants are almost always often English-speakers ranging from 25-35 years old. “Most are professionals living in Beijing, both locals and foreigners alike.”
But this Saturday’s “Double Your Luck” event, which will be held at Dongcheng’s intimate Singaporean venue 40 Dongsi Liutiao Courtyard—with cuisine provided by the boutique caterer Purple Sage—will pack double the punch: two large groups will simultaneously make the rounds in the search for Valentine’s felicity. 
About 50 loveseekers are expected to attend.
“Once the initial speed dating part is finished, we’ll introduce the two groups to each other,” Johnson said.
They’ll then mix and mingle over tapas. The sky’s the limit after that.
“Most people arrange dates and make new friends post-speed dating,” Johnson said. “We see people from our parties hanging out together months later.”
Sound appealing? Space is filling up fast, said Johnson on Wednesday night. Drop-ins will not be accepted (the Specialists need to place you based on your background, age and other criteria), so be sure to register beforehand at the email address below. 
Purple Sage
40 Dongsi Liutiao,
Saturday, Feb 14
Group One Registration: 8pm
Group Two Registration: 9pm 
220 RMB (includes a selection of gourmet tapas, complimentary cocktail and free flow of non-alcoholic drinks—and a chance at eternal happiness)

Official Site
WeLiveInBeijing Group
The Speed Dating Specialists just celebrated their two year anniversary, and plan on expanding their schedule to include additional singles-related events and dinners, as well as organizing events for Chinese speakers who prefer to keep it local. Stay tuned!

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