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Latest Press Article About!

The Key to Successful Dating
Lock and Key Events help you meet, maybe fall in love, and win prizes
Samantha Grice
National Post

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Darren Waldholz, 36, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., had tried speed dating -- singles go through a series of timed three-minute dates with up to 25 possibilities in one evening -- a handful of times, and while it seemed to be a pretty good introduction method, he thought there had to be a way to meet a whole bunch of people that was a little heavier on fun and lighter on pressure.

Then he remembered the not-so-subtle nut and bolt events he had attended when he was a student at the University of Florida (the men were given nuts and the women bolts, and the aim was to find the ones that fit together and, hopefully, a date). Waldholz wondered, why not do something similar, yet a little less crass, with padlocks and keys?

"There aren't that many options for meeting people," says Waldholz. "Speed dating is a good event, but it's limited in the amount of people you interact with. I wanted to start something where we had a lot of people and everyone interacts with everyone else."

He created and began setting up the icebreakers in major U.S. cities. The first one was in Miami. The men get keys and the women get locks, and the goal is to unlock. But it doesn't stop there. When a lock is opened the couple get tickets to enter in a raffle for prizes such as certificates for dinners and hotel stays, gym memberships, movie passes or cash; then they get new locks and keys with which to go out and meet more people.

At the Lock and Key Events that Christan Marashio, the company's national program manager, has thrown in New York City, the number of matches a person can have in a night depends on the pace they set for themselves. "People can get 10, 20, 50 or 100 matches, but what I've seen at my events is the average is seven to 10, and I think that comes from the fact they are meeting people they actually enjoy talking to. They say, 'I've met three really great guys, I've got three phone numbers, that's successful.' "

It's that level of uncoerced participation that excited Waldholz and prompted him to launch the company. "Most social events I've been to in the past, I sit around and meet one or two people out of a hundred because there's no reason to walk up and talk to them. If you're a shy person, forget it, you're dead in the water."

A couple of Fridays ago, Waldholz held a Lock and Key Event at a bar in Coconut Grove in South Florida and he invited a few of his notoriously shy friends. "And all these girls were walking right up to them and saying, Here, try my lock. Those guys normally might not talk to anybody at a party and here they probably spoke to around 50 girls. Two of them actually hooked up."

When Christian Call, a 33-year-old banker in Manhattan, attended an after-work Lock and Key Event his first thought was, this is like high school. "You know, let me see if your key opens my lock, no sexual undertone there," he says and laughs.

"I was hesitant, but after just a few minutes I had about seven girls come up to me and everyone was really friendly and talkative and very pretty," he recalls. "I'm not bad looking, but you know what it's like if you're in a bar and the girl is not in the mood to talk, she'll blow you off and pretty rudely."

The added enticement of an expensive gift helps too. "If the girls or guys are unattractive they're not just going to be sitting there by themselves because everyone wants to win the prizes we offer," says Waldholz. "And the girls get so excited when they get it unlocked, you'd think they just won a new car," he says and laughs. "It's a very exciting event."

The first Lock and Key Event 34-four-year-old Jennifer Barr went to in Miami resulted in a two-month relationship, and at the one a couple of weeks ago her best friend met a guy. "That was her night, I had my night last March," says Barr.

Barr goes to the events with a few of her girlfriends and they view the events as a fun sidebar to a night out, and the locks and keys as a good excuse to go talk to anyone, such as the gorgeous guy Barr had her eye on the last time. "I had tunnel vision with him, but we didn't hit it off. I obviously wasn't his type, but if I had been in a bar I would have never gone up and talked to him. I would have felt like I was giving a cheesy line; I'm sure guys feel that way all the time."

The consensus, especially for men, is that Lock and Key Events work because the girls approach the guys instead of the usual vice versa. Call says sometimes the girls, who wear the padlocks on a string around their necks, just come up and stick out their locks. No surprise the sexual innuendo gets everyone a little silly.

"If you could only imagine some of the come-ons," laughs Marashio. "We have a contest going on right now called, What's your best opening line? We've got things like, Do you think I will fit? Or, Am I too big for you?"

Waldholz doesn't advertise the events as singles events because of the fact that once you unlock you don't have to spend the evening with that person, but instead you can say, See ya, I'm on my way to the next person.

And even if you don't successfully open the lock of someone who catches your interest, all is not lost, as Call found out when he hooked up with a fellow banker.

"She was one of the shyest girls there and I went up to her and said, 'I think you're the most beautiful woman in here. I'd really love to talk to you.' And she said, 'Let's see if we match.' And we didn't but I said, 'I'd really like to talk to you but I know you want to go out and try to meet other guys so maybe I could catch up with you later on.' She said OK and I saw her at the end of the night and we talked for about a half hour and now we've gone on five or six dates."


Copyright 2003 National Post

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