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Lock And Key Events - Unlock Your Possibilities at the Ultimate Ice Breaker Event

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Press Coverage About!

  • Article - Single? Try a Lock and Key mixer... - Poughkeepsie Journal

  • Article - Open Your Heart - Santa Barbara News Press

  • Article - Key to Your Heart - Santa Barbara Magazine

  • Article - Lock and Key -

  • Article - Views and clues inside Detroit's party scene - Metromix Detroit

  • Article - The Single File - Orlando Home & Leisure

  • Article - Single & Ready to Mingle? - Miami Living Magazine

  • Article - Living It Up On Anti-Valentine's Day - Severn Patch

  • Article - Dating After Divorce or Breakup! - Woman World Magazine

  • Radio - Lock and Key Commercial - Miromar event, WINK FM

  • Article - Conversation is 'key' at Miromar singles dating event, The Banner

  • Article - Tallahassee singles mingle at Lock and Key,

  • Notice - Lock and Key Events gives back to the community it began in!

  • Article - Party Host Spotlight - ATLANTA, SHI Symbol eMag

  • Article - Game Changed - Dating rules may be different..., Chicago Tribune

  • Article - Singles in the capital have plenty of chances to meet,

  • Article - You're the Key!, New Times Broward-Palm Beach

  • Article - Getting back in the dating game,

  • Article - Lock and Key party at Clydes and Costello's,

  • Article - Lock and Key party at Lana Lounge, Hoboken 411

  • Article - It's a date! Ways to find a significant other in the city, AM New York

  • Article - The Key to Finding Romance?, Anything For Love

  • Article - Cupid? Stupid! Singles say, Valentine's Day no big deal, Courier Post

  • Article - Today's Top 5, Lock and Key Party, Creative Loafing Charlotte

  • Article - The Planner Page, Tampa Bay Times

  • Article -  Lock and Key Singles Event, South Bend Tribune

  • Article - Best Singles Event: Lock and Key Parties, Best Of Baltimore 2007

  • Article - Dating menus: You can change yours -

  • Article - Unlocking romance -

  • Article - Insert first, ask questions later -

  • Article - Where to take or find your Valentine - AM New York

  • Article - Looking for Love - Casino Connections Magazine

  • ArticleESSENCE Truth or Dare Dating Challenge - Essence Magazine

  • Article - Rise Nightclub, Rise is under Lock and Key - Denver Westword

  • Headline - Lovers on lockdown - City Link Magazine Club Events

  • Article - Brand New Key, Picking Locks at Club One - City Paper Online

  • Article - Open your heart - Miami New Times

  • Article - Interview with Jaynie Beard, Harrisburg - The Sentinel

  • Headline - Singles invited to Lock and Key Event - South Bend Tribune

  • Article - Fresh approach is the key - Tampa Bay Times

  • Article - Key of Love - Miami New Timeswith WEDDING UPDATE

  • Blog - Dr. Phil: Bringing Us Together... - Defamer

  • Article - The key to successful dating - National Post

Related Press Coverage
  • Article - Got a Minute? There is always a time for romance -- but with speed dating that would be a limited time - Miami New Times
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Santa Barbara News Press 8/22/13
Santa Barbara News Press 5/22/13

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Santa Barbara Magazine
Key to Your Heart
Posted online: May 2013

Looking for love but haven’t quite found the key? Santa Barbara Matchmaking’s Lisa Darsonval can help. The go-to local matchmaker hosts regular Lock and Key parties that offer a space for matching that is as straightforward as it is creative. Upon arrival, women attendees get padlocks and men get keys. Each time their hardware matches, it’s turned in for a new set of hardware and each person gets another raffle ticket for great prizes donated by local businesses…or maybe even a date? Judging from the popularity of the events (attendance has doubled at each new gathreing) this formula for love seems to be working.

Santa Barbara Lock And Key

The next Lock and Key party takes place Sunday, May 26 from 12:30 to 3pm at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club and also launches Darsonval’s Meet the Matchmaker series that will be held monthly, when the expert will be on hand to answer questions about dating in Santa Barbara and to connect singles during polo matches.

Purchase a ticket (from $22, ) for your own shot at local love.

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Intown 411
Lock and Key
Lock and Key
The key to finding the love of your life may just be a night away. Welcome to Lock and Key.

I recently attended a Lock and Key event at Blue Martini in Brickell. And yes, the females wear lock necklaces while the men wear keys. As the night unfolded, I began to realize this concept is quite genius!

After watching the crowd (who were all so friendly), they were so much more receptive to one another than the usual club gathering. In a conventional lounge atmosphere, approaching someone may be difficult, but not here. With these necklaces, someone now has a legitimate reason to approach someone else. We’ve got something to unlock!

The prize? That would be a raffle ticket that may lead to a plethora of prizes and the chance to get another lock/key. It's a fun game, but trying out someone’s lock/key is just a simple way to break the ice. No awkward hellos here so the conversation can just flow (and love can begin!).

Not a believer? Yeah, I was skeptical too until I experienced it myself. Did I also mention the numerous, successful relationships and weddings that all began from a single Lock and Key event. One happy couple even invited the owner of Lock and Key, Darren, to their wedding in Italy. After all, it was his event that began the start of their new life.

Whether you’re looking for love or just a good time with some great people, try a Lock and Key Event. It’s better than sitting behind the computer to find your match. And who knows? You may just meet the true love of your life.

*If you would like to participate or volunteer at a Lock and Key Event, you can email the promotional director at 

More photos...
Lock And Key

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Metromix Detroit
Views and clues inside Detroit's party scene
Red Ox Tavern (Credit: Courtesy of Red Ox Tavern)

Red Ox Tavern

Lock and Key singles party

Don’t tell Cassie Reich that you can’t find true love in a bar. Reich, event coordinator for the Detroit area Lock and Key events, will try to prove you wrong.

“With Lock and Key events, you can talk in person, read body language and can immediately tell if there is chemistry or not without having to email or chat back and forth a bunch of times,” Reich says. “The Lock and Key format provides a great ice breaker for people to talk to each other. Sometimes people don’t want to approach someone they are interested in at a club, but at Lock and Key, that’s the whole point so there is no awkwardness.” 

Lock and Key events, described as a fun, interactive way to meet potential love interests, have been held at venues in nearly 100 cities around the country. Friday’s gathering at the Red Ox Tavern in Utica will be the second Lock and Key event that’s been held in the metro Detroit area.

“People have online profiles so they can meet many people in one spot,” Reich says. “Our events can have up to 100 attendees, so there are many opportunities to meet someone.”

Women will receive padlocks when they arrive at Red Ox and men will get keys. Attendees will attempt to match the locks and keys. For every match you make, you will be entered to win a raffle prize which include cash, manicures, candles, comedy passes and complimentary admission to future Lock and Key events. There is no limit on the amount of time you can talk with someone, and you can choose to get a new lock or key after you’ve made a match.

“I know of several people who have asked another attendee out on a date who they met at one of my events,” Reich says. “Some attendees have married someone they met at a Lock and Key event in other regions, but not Detroit yet. We hope that in the future this can happen in Detroit too.”

Check in will be from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Guests will mingle until 9:15. The event will include free appetizers until 10 p.m. For more information, visit

7:30-9:30 p.m. Friday, Red Ox Tavern, 45411 Park Ave., Utica, 586.726.7070. $25 with RSVP; $30 at the door.

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Orlando Home & Leisure

The Single File

Orlando can be a good place to look for love. Just be sure to leave room for it to find you. 

The Single File article 5/29/12

Timing is everything. Until they met by chance at a birthday party in an Orlando bar, Aaron Bean and Katie Merrigan counted themselves among the thousands of singles in Orlando. “We’ve talked about it. If we hadn’t met just then, it wouldn’t have worked out,” says Aaron.

by Michael McLeod
hair and makeup by Elsie Knab
photographs by Ken Lopez

It’s a wonder anybody stays single anymore. The Internet bristles with an arsenal of dating apps and surefire matchmaking algorithms. Magazines and websites produce periodic “Best Cities for Singles” stories that judge communities mainly on how easily their unattached residents can become attached.

Orlando usually winds up in the middle tier of such lists, as it did in a recent story measuring life in general and love in particular for solo souls in 40 American cities. The rankings were based on job availability, cost of living, nightlife, “coolness,” culture, online dating activity and the number of singles in the area.

The good news is, we’re cool. Cooler than Miami, cooler than Chicago, cooler than Los Angeles. So says a Harris public opinion poll that cited in awarding us sixth place in that category. We dropped the ball elsewhere, however, and wound up sneaking into the roster at a modest 27th overall.

But these stories are generally cobbled together out of statistics and polls compiled and analyzed by journalists who never set foot in the towns they’re writing about. So we consulted with some dating experts and single people who are here in Orlando for a few firsthand observations and options from the front.

relevant excerpt...

The latest face-to-face dating service fad to turn up in Orlando: Lock and Key Events ( Singles pay a cover charge to meet up in a club where each male gets a key and each woman gets a lock to wear around her neck. Some of the keys open some of the locks. The ostensible object of the game is to match them up, but it’s all just a clever icebreaker. The latest Orlando club to try it out, appropriately enough, is the Icebar.

more article content and photos at 

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Miami Living article - Single & Ready to Mingle?
Miami Living article - Single & Ready to Mingle?
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Living It Up On Anti-Valentine's Day
Celebrate being single with an Anti-Valentine's outing.
By Priya Ramachandran | Email the author | February 11, 2011

The rebels of Valentine's Day will be out in full force this upcoming weekend, as single's everywhere will look to enjoy a night out despite their relational status.

Last year, the holiday was overshadowed by heavy amounts of snowfall, dampening its spirit, said Lori Crook, event coordinator of Baltimore's Lock and Key events.

The Valentine event scheduled last year had to be postponed because of snow. This year, Crook's husband is being deployed on Sunday, the day before Valentine's Day, leaving her with little time to organize the event.

The key, Crook believes, is not to feel sorry for oneself. She said, "Singles can have as much fun on Valentine's day as couples."

This view is echoed by Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a licensed relationship therapist in New York City and former assistant attorney general in Crownville, MD.

He suggested simply spending the day loving oneself.

"Walk around the town center and smile at the people you pass. You'll be pleasantly surprised and emotionally recharged by their responses," said Hokemeyer.

"Valentine's Day is about celebrating love. It's not about spending money or conforming to a commercial construct about what the day should be," he said.

Financially Prudent

Letting Valentine's Day slip by might actually be better for the wallet.

Mona Hamouly, public affairs manager for American Express, offered some interesting Valentine's Day statistics:

  • Men outspend women $151 to $114. 
  • Half the women surveyed said they would give their partners nothing. The same percentage of men surveyed said they would buy their partners flowers. 
  • Couples end up spending three times as much as singles, $189 to $67.

The Ultimate Anti-Valentines Events

If the finances aren't convincing on their own, maybe it's time to indulge in some fun of a different kind.

The Anti-Valentine's Day event at Againn in Washington D.C. in 2010 was such a success the gastro-pub is doing an entire anti-Valentine week this year, according to general manager Will Friedrichs.

"We're just not set up to be a romantic, candle-light dinner for two sort of place," said Friedrichs.

"We wanted to create an environment for people who aren't celebrating the holiday to still enjoy themselves," he said.

For those single and ready to mingle, Mother's Federal Hill Grille has a tongue in cheek SAD (Singles Awareness Day) on Sat. Feb 12.

A Change of Fortunes

Who knows, Valentine's Day might trigger a change of fortune at Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis.

The popular watering hole is hosting Ms. Julie, psychic tarot card reader at its Cupid Stupid event on Valentine's Day. The singles event is being celebrated in the bar area, said General Manager Scott Haney.

"Other sections are open to couples, but we're reserving the bar area for singles," he said.

Drinks specials will be on offer, he added. The Ram's Head branch in Savage has a similar Cupid Stupid party.

Kaufmann's Tavern in Gambrills does not have a separate event for singles. But one doesn't have to part of a couple to enjoy its four course meal priced around $25, featuring seafood entrees and a chocolate ganache.

Best Bets for a Fun-Filled Anti-Valentine's Day Around Severn:

Kaufmann's, Gambrills

Ram's Head Tavern, Annapolis

Ram's Head Tavern, Savage

Againn,Washington D.C.

Mother's Federal Hill Grille, Baltimore

Lock and Key Events, Baltimore (no Valentine's Day event this year)

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Dating After Divorce Or BreakUp!

The dating scene can be daunting whether you're 25 or 55.  Lisa Daily, the dating expert, recommends to go online, speed dating events and Lock And Key parties. At Lock And Key events women get locks, men get keys and both wander around trying to find the person they "fit" with. It's a simple and fun conversation starter. 

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full article
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The Banner Newspaper


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Tallahassee singles mingle at Lock and Key speed-dating event

By Elizabeth M. Mack - DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER - Published: July 15. 2010

I recently had an opportunity to experience a little of what single life is like in Tallahassee. If you are actively looking for a companion (I'm not at the moment) you may be interested in Lock and Key, a national organization with local branches. I attended a local event last month.

Felina Martin, Tallahassee event coordinator with Lock and Key, said the events add a new spin on speed dating.

"Some people have a stereotype about speed dating," she said. "We set up a casual cocktail event. Ladies get a lock and men get a key. The idea is to mingle with everyone in the room."
It actually made for a fun-filled two-hour social - for the singles of course.

There were about 30 people who met at Pockets Pool and Pub. The conversations mainly revolved around semi-inappropriate jokes that were acceptable for the adult crowd.
A handful of the attendees were first-timers.

One of the ladies, middle-aged with a name tag that read, "Gail," said she would recommend the event to anyone who was looking for things to do in Tallahassee.  "It's a great way to meet people," she said. "I know it's meant for people to find that romantic connection, but you can also just meet friends."

In between the rush of trying to find a key that matched my lock, I had a brief conversation with one of the regular attendees.  "I like attending these because it's fun and it's not a lot of pressure," said the middle-aged man whose name tag read "Edward."

He explained that he had even met someone at one of the events who he dated for about a month, until they realized that they weren't a good match (right key, wrong lock?).

Their next event will be Aug. 28 at a new downtown night spot called Versailles, slated to open where the Hometown Coffee House was located at Kleman Plaza.  The theme for the evening is "Moulin Rouge." Be there in red, ready to mingle, because for every lock and key match you make the more raffle tickets you receive to win some pretty good prizes.

The cost is $20. If you are looking to meet someone new or for something to do, register at .

Contact Elizabeth Mack at


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Lock and Key Events gives back to the community it began in!

Darren Waldholz, President and Owner of (pictured far right) is also an assistance coach of his daughter's team for the past 2 years. Just where does he find the time?, a singles event company, is a proud sponsor of the Hollywood Hills Girls Softball Team. Kudos to Darren and for giving back to the community!

Lock And Key sponsors the Hollywood Hills Girls Softball Team

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click here to read the SHI Symbol emag for MAY 2010

Read the story above and more in the May 2010 emag online.  
The emagazine is a browser based program which means there is no attachments, no software
and no downloading files, it is viewed as you would a webpage safe, quick and convenient.

Lock And Key Events - SHI Symbol affiliate link 

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relevant excerpts from longer original article

Game Changed
Dating rules may be different but object same

The dating game for those 50 and older is not played by the rules of days gone by. It's a whole new world out there.  The good news for mature singles looking for love or companionship is that a potpourri of options await to get you in the game.

Suddenly single
Cliff Chun, 60, of Addison became a widower last March after 31 years of marriage. When faced with his new single state he wasn't sure where to turn.

"I guess I'm an old-fashioned guy and would have preferred being fixed up by friends, but people don't seem to do that anymore," he says.  Instead, he turned to the Internet and checked out several services including and

"Going online was the only way I could meet someone besides going to a bar, which is not for me," he says. "I'm not really computer proficient but I was forced to be - everything is online."

Chun soon became adept, posting his profile and a picture of himself in a tuxedo taken at his daughter's wedding a few years ago. In the six months he's been wading into the online dating pool he's had dates with three different women, two of whom he met on

Chun has had several dates with one of the women he's met, going to restaurants, the theater and museums. "Mainly, I'm looking for companionship," he says. "If it works out, OK. If not, that's OK too."

Make a match
From 2005 to 2009, has seen a 15 percent growth year over year in the 50 and older age group. With the aging of Baby Boomers, "it's one of our fastest growing demographics," says Whitney Casey, a relationship expert with

A pioneer in the online dating industry, doesn't place this age demographic in an isolated group, but it does provide tools to help introduce older adults to the kinds of people they are looking for. Members create a profile telling the service what kind of person they would like to meet.

"For example, are they looking for someone in their age range, their height range, a nonsmoker, someone from the same religious background," says Casey. "We also encourage members to add lots of photos. Once a profile is created and photos are uploaded, members can begin searching across our huge community of singles, or allow us to find a match with our special matching programs - or both."

When members see someone they'd like to communicate with they send them a "wink" or email them. uses a double-blind email system so members aren't able to trace where the e-mail is coming from until they are ready to exchange actual e-mail addresses or phone numbers.

"Creating a profile on is free," says Casey. "When you are ready to start communicating with other singles, you have to subscribe for as low as $17 a month."

Whether on a blind date set up by a friend or finding a love interest online, Casey says personal safety should always be the No. 1 priority. Go to the Match Web site for online dating safety tips.


Face it
Aurora Nelson, coordinator for the face-to-face Lock and Key and Cupid/Pre-Dating speed dating events in the Chicagoland area, thinks people need to get out of their comfort zone. That includes "being open to dating different cultures, backgrounds and or/ages as the field dramatically narrows [for women] once you hit the 50 mark," she says.

Lock and Key ( ) is a different spin on a traditional social gathering. Every woman who attends gets a padlock and every man gets a key. The goal is to find the right key with the right padlock. "After every unlock you get another lock or key so you can get back into the fray and meet more people," she says. "It's a great ice-breaker." Cost is $25.

Pre-Dating ( ), says Nelson, is a "fun and efficient way for busy singles to meet." Participants must pre-register online for $35. The registrants then meet in a private area of an upscale restaurant or bar and have up to 12 or more face-to-face six-minute pre-dates in one night.

"I tell people to just come to the events to have a good time and try something new," she says. "They should not come expecting to meet 'him' or 'her' but rather to enjoy themselves. If they don't meet someone they are romantically interested in, they may still make a friend who may know someone who is more suited to them." 

Check the Web sites for scheduled events, which are held once a quarter for the 50 and older age group.


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Singles in the capital have plenty of chances to meet
 By Amanda Nalley -

The number of single adults in the United States has reached 110 million, according to the "It's Just Lunch" Web site, a national dating service that gets singles together for lunch dates. And though the group hasn't made it to Tallahassee, the local singles scene offers its fair share of dating groups and games from church ministries to online forums.

"There is a certain age group that is beyond going to the night club," said Felina Martin, 39, event planner and proprietor of Tallahassee's Lock and Key events, another national dating service. "We are so busy. You don't have a lot of time to play around."

Martin is hosting her third Tallahassee-based Lock and Key event from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Lee's Wine Bar. The event inspires singles to mingle by giving women a lock, men a key and making them find their match.

Singles enjoy the scene at Clydes and Costellos. 
(Elliott McCaskill/For the Democrat)

Lock and Key Party for 30 plus

When: 7:30 p.m. check-in 8-10 p.m. party Saturday, Nov. 7
Where: Lee's Wine Bar, 1700 N. Monroe St., Ste. 19
Cost: $30, $25 with RSVP
Lock and Key event open to 22-49
When: 7:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Dec. 4
Where: Baja's Beach Club, 2020 West Pensacola St.

Contact: Eventions at 222-0200 or
Visit for more info or to sign up.

While not all Lock and Key events are geared to a certain age, this one is specifically for those 30-plus, which benefits singles such as 64-year-old Judy Clark.

"Finding eligible men to date at this time in my life is not easy," Clark said. "I think a great deal has to do with your age because our town is full of a lot of young people."

Martin says event attendees typically range in age from 22-49 and most are professionals looking for anything from a date to a serious relationship.

But Lock and Key isn't the only trick in the bag for Tallahassee singles.

The 46-person strong Tallahassee Singles Mingle Meetup Group at also hosts events weekly. On Friday the group will meet at Tallahassee AMC for a movie at 7 p.m. followed by drinks at Fusion.

Martin, who divorced in 2008, also is the organizer of that group, and she has other plans for Tallahassee singles as well.

"I approach dating as an entrepreneur," Martin said. "We've given them a tool. If you don't take advantage of it, it is on you."

"The singles scene in Tallahassee is good but it is the same circles," local DJ Greg Tish said about how the size of the town makes it difficult sometimes to meet new people. Tish started a Facebook page for Tallahassee singles called My Single Friends in Tallahassee.

But Martin says Tallahassee has a lot more going for it in regards to the singles scene than singles specific groups.

Social networking groups such as Tallahassee Network of Young Professionals and churches with ministries geared toward singles are other opportunities to meet.

"We've had a singles ministry for as long as I can remember," said Josh Hall, young adults' minister at First Baptist Church of Tallahassee. "We provide an opportunity for them to come together and find community. It's a way to get to know who they are without that pressure of the blind date."

As for the best way to meet a mate? Martin says it is about staying active. "If a man comes along while I'm at poetry night, so be it. I do things. What better way to meet them."

Visit for more information or to sign up."

Contact reporter Amanda Nalley at (850) 599-2299 or 

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Lock and Key Party
Date/Time: Sat., September 19, 7:30pm
Price: $22 in advance, $35 at the door

You're the Key!
By Mickie Centrone

16 E. Atlantic Ave.
Delray Beach, FL

Oh, the wisecracks we could make about a singles' lock and key party, where women get locks, guys get keys, and you mingle from stranger to stranger to try to find your perfect match. 

We could say that one man has the key to your heart this Saturday at Delux Nightclub (16 E. Atlantic Ave. Delray Beach). We could remind you of Maid Marion from Robin Hood Men in Tights (Don't even pretend you didn't see it) and joke about the key unlocking your chastity belt. But we'll spare you the cheesy lines, because going out and sparking conversation is tough enough - and no matter how much we jest, there's no denying that the lock and key does make a wonderful icebreaker. Sure, finding true love would be nice, but dude - matches earn you tickets for the prize drawing! There's a good turnout at these events; prior ones have attracted 100 to 200 single professionals, and the age group for this one is 22 to 47. Check-in begins at 7:30, and the unlocking begins at 8:30 p.m. Don't worry about being left out - each lock or key has two to three matches, and if you don't find a partner, you can swap your lock or key for another. Tickets cost $22 in advance, $35 at the door. Visit

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Getting back in the dating game
Divorced and ready to start dating again? Consider newer strategies, as well as the more traditional ones, for meeting people

By Sara Conrad, Story updated at 4:09 PM on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009

The following is excerpted from the full article:

Illustration by Kyzandrha Zarate and Jason Pratt 
The Times-Union

New Dating Strategies

Online dating: According to Emas, online dating is the best way to meet as many people as possible. "It's a numbers game. It really is the best way to meet the most men per minute, because there are 40 million (people dating online)." Of course, Emas warns, the negative side is that there are so many choices, people tend to adopt a shop-around mentality. Some people will always be looking online for someone better, even if they are in a relationship they enjoy. and are among the most popular national dating Web sites. Some popular local dating sites include, and

Lock and Key Parties: This is a fun - if not crude - spin on mixers. It goes pretty much exactly like it sounds: Women get locks and men get keys. Then the men and women walk around and try to find their fit. When you find your match, you get a new lock and get to keep searching. All the while you'll meet many singles in a short amount of time. Find a local Lock and Key Party at and search Jacksonville.

Speed Dating: This is ideal for those who don't have much time. They usually take place during lunch hour at a restaurant, so you don't have to give up much of your day. You and a group of men and women rotate a room, each couple spending about five minutes with each other. At the end of the session, you can confidentially submit the names of people you want to talk to again to the party hosts; if the same men also submit your name, you are a match and your contact info will be given to one another. It's like business networking, except your elevator speech is all about you. You're in a public place and can go with friends, so it's safe. The time limit is a bonus because you can decide quickly which guy you connect with. Find a local speed dating event at There is also ItsJustLunch, a Web site that works to set you up with singles at lunch or after work. It's kind of like having a personal assistant., (904) 359-4693

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Lock And Key Event  Elliott McCaskill/Special to the Democrat

Guests at the Lock and Key Event try out their different locks and keys trying to find that perfect match, at Clydes and Costello's on Saturday, July 18, 2009.

Bob Soni tries his key in Liz Jackson's lock

Henry Nixon tries his key in Sharon Ochalek's lock

Bob Soni tries his key in Aimee Reed's lock

Bob Soni tries his key in Sharon Ochalek's lock

By the end of the event, several keys had found their matching locks.

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Hoboken411 - The leading web community for all things Hoboken, New Jersey's premier waterfront city.
Lock And Key party at Lana Lounge
5/15/2009 hoboken411 03:00 pm

This "Lock and Key" event is being touted as "THE Interactive Social Event You've Been Hearing About!"

Is that true? Have you attended one?


Lock and Key Party!

The ULTIMATE Ice Breaker Party At Lana Lounge 
Saturday, June 6th, 7 PM to 9 PM, Ages 22-45

Prepay or RSVP today to secure your spot... Limited # of Locks & Keys Available!

Join at Lana Lounge in Hoboken, NJ for a great time at one of the newest and hottest social events to come around in awhile! We guarantee you will meet and talk to more people at this party than anything you have ever gone to before! Period! Recent parties were featured on, NBC daytime TV show "Starting Over", and in Essence Magazine-February 2007 Issue.

How It Works

  • Every guy gets a key, Every girl gets a lock

  • Your goal: Match the right lock with the right key

  • Do it and get a ticket for the prize drawing, more tickets = more chances!

  • You then get a new lock or key and go back into the fray to repeat the process

  • Throughout your quest you'll meet 50, 100 or more people of the opposite sex

(Check-in at 6:30 PM)


Only $20 to PREPAY w/ Promo Code NNJLNK. Incl. 1 FREE DRINK & FREE APPETIZERS (til 8pm), no additional cover to stay after, and a chance to win over $1,000 in CA$H & prizes! Expected attendance is over 100+. To Prepay, RSVP or get more info: or or call Liz at 973-207-7312.

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It's a date! Ways to find a significant other in the city

By Tracy Wallach

Meeting romantic prospects in bars, online or on blind dates inevitably starts to grow old. Luckily, we live in New York, where innovative ways of meeting new people abound. Even better, it's possible to meet potential romantic partners while engaging in fun activities and pursuing your interests ~ or discovering new ones.

Lock and Key Events

How it works: Men are given keys, women are given locks, and the goal is for participants to find their lock or key's mate. When a lock is unlocked, both man and woman report to an assigned table to receive a new lock and a new key and a raffle ticket. The evening ends with a raffle drawing, prizes have included bar tabs, white water rafting trips and even cold hard cash, and the coveted Locksmith Award ceremony, celebrating both the man and woman who have been privy to the most matches. The female recipient wins complementary attendance to upcoming events, and, in a move as funny as you might imagine, the male winner gets to lock lips with the evening's host (and Lock and Key Events New York Events Coordinator) Donnell Adler. About 60 to 100 singles attend each event.

Cost: $30 per event

The good: The Lock and Key concept allows for the ice to break itself, giving men and women the perfect excuse to approach one another, and an easy exit strategy if no match is made (in any sense of the word). The evening is light-hearted and fun with its raffles, prizes and no shortage of lock-and-key innuendos.

The bad: Since participants can freely choose which events to attend, there is no screening for ages beyond the suggested age ranges.

The bottom line: Lock and Key Parties are a low-pressure, relatively inexpensive way to meet a whole lot of people at once. The concept is quirky and different, and whether or not sparks fly, it is definitely worth a shot.

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The Key to Finding Romance?

Daters differ over whether the innovative icebreaker game played at lock and key parties truly can help singles find their perfect match.
By Jenn Rubin

Photo by Jenn Rubin 
Daters test the chemistry with their lock and key, as well with each other.

"You want to do it twice in one night?" Alan, a bearded, middle-aged man around his mid-40s, asks Helen, a brunette baby boomer in a V-neck white top he has just met at Aqua Lounge in Beverly Hills.

Normally, Alan would be lucky not to get slapped in the face for asking this type of question to an almost complete stranger. But tonight, his inquiry has Helen saying yes, yes, yes.

"He was the key to my lock," explains Helen, grinning up at Alan as she shows off their intertwined necklaces.

Alan and Helen are among the approximately 150 participants at this Lock and Key Events party on a balmy, California summer night.

In this new dating game springing up at clubs and other venues across the country, women are given necklaces bearing tiny locks.
Men receive ones with small keys attached. The singles mix and mingle as they attempt to find their match.

Headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Lock and Key Events was started about five years ago. Today, it has local branches in more than 60 cities across the country, many of which throw parties monthly.

Ticket prices range from $20 to around $35, depending on date and location. Discounts are available for guests who sign up in advance.

Some events are open to all daters, while others are designed for singles from certain religious groups or age ranges. The lock and key party at Aqua Lounge, for instance, is for daters between 30 and 40.

"It is just a way to meet 50 to 100 singles in one given night in a two-hour period," says Julia Rabago, owner of the L.A. division of Lock and Key Events, which sponsored the soiree at Aqua Lounge. "We make it easy to meet new people."

Those at the bar or standing around the Aqua Lounge dance floor approach possible lock and key matches at varying paces. Nor, a native of Turkey dressed in business attire, is having difficulty adjusting to the scene as a first-time lock and key party-goer. She sits on a couch at the edge of the room, watching the action.

"I'm so shy," says Nor, who like others at the party, ask that their last names not be used because of privacy concerns. "I don't know what to do. Anyway, I think it's boring."

But success stories abound. Rabago says former Lock and Key Events participants have e-mailed her with news of their engagements or marriages.

Vince Dell, a balding event planner with a bright smile, says that he ended up with a few dates after attending past lock and key parties.

"I'm not good with the other scenes," Dell concedes, regarding the eligible bachelorettes in the crowd. "I don't do the bar or the club scene. I'm not religious. Here, it's a wide variety of people. Good venue; good location. Hot women in high heels."

Similar organizations include Lock and Key Match. General event planners, like Party Scammers, are also among the companies in L.A. putting on lock and key parties. The group hosted a Valentine's Day-themed lock and key night at Jimmy's Lounge in Hollywood last February.

Photo by Jenn Rubin 
Alex Narayan of Lock and Key Events hands out game pieces to party-goers.

"In my opinion, it's for shy people and people who have trouble meeting people in general," says Alex Narayan, who has helped run Lock and Key Events in L.A. for about two years.

The tanned young man with a black goatee and sideburns scans the crowd inside Aqua Lounge while handing out locks and keys.

"Some are outgoing once they have an icebreaker," he says. "This provides that. It turns finding someone to date into a game. Of course, the raffle tickets are very important."

"For some people, it's a joke thing," says Narayan. "Other people are really trying, in theory. It's hard to find someone, honestly."

"I get no dates from online dating," says a heavyset dater named Jack. "You in person are different from a profile. Then, I come to these things and get like two girls to give me a try."

Despite the tough economy, Jack doesn't have a problem paying the at-least $20 cover charge at Lock and Key Events parties.

"When I go out to clubs, I end up with around an $80 tab buying girls drinks," says Jack. "That's two nights on a weekend, so this comparatively is not that expensive."

Companies hosting more traditional types of singles parties also appear to be enjoying continued success, despite turbulent financial times. Adele Testani, president of HurryDate, told the TODAY show in March 2009 that attendance at her organization's speed date events has spiked in recent months.

"Basically, people are adjusting their priorities, and finding dates and a mate are a higher priority in this economy," says Mark Brooks, a consultant for Internet dating and social networking companies like and

"I don't think it's expensive when you have the potential to meet 50 guys, and if you don't meet anybody, it's a fun night out with the girls," says Barbara, a tour guide who has landed three phone numbers in just the first hour at the Beverly Hills gathering.

Yet the overall crowd lacks appeal for Tay, who is making her debut at a Lock and Key Events party. An attractive woman who keeps in shape by hiking, Tay stands out as one of the younger party-goers at the event for singles who are at least 30.

"The men are weird," Tay says, crossing her well-toned legs uncomfortably. "It's all a little odd. You go up and stick your lock in someone's face and say, bUnlock me.' Would I do this again? Probably not."

Yet other women, like Barbara and Helen, find lock and key parties to be a great fit for helping to improve their dating lives.

"I'm having a great time!" exclaims Helen as she smiles up at Alan.

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Cupid? Stupid! Singles say, Valentine's Day is no big deal
By NICK DiULIO - For the Courier-Post - February 10, 2009

For Warren Patterson it's just another day, and being single doesn't bother him in the least.

For Dawn Fortune, it's a time to reflect, perhaps with slight melancholy, about why she is still single and the eventual possibility of love.

And for Ray Walters, being single on Valentine's Day is a matter of calculation. "I try to make it a personal policy not to start dating before any major social or holiday events," said Walters, 57 of Burlington Township, at a recent singles event in Cherry Hill. "It adds a lot of extra overhead. So if I'm not dating somebody by February 1st, I probably won't be."

Valentine's Day 2009 is approaching, causing many singles throughout South Jersey to pause and consider the nature of being partnerless during a "holiday" that pays homage to all things amorous.

And it seems as though many are going to let the Saturday night pass with an unceremonious shrug of the shoulders.

Take Patterson, for example. In between sit-down sessions at a Friday night "speed dating" event hosted by South Jersey Java in Voorhees, Patterson considered what it will mean to be unattached on the night of Feb. 14.

"It doesn't mean a thing to me," said Patterson, 43, of Cherry Hill. Since finalizing his divorce in October, Patterson has been taking it slow in trying to find new love, and there would be no point rushing it now, he said, just to have a date for one particular evening.

CHRIS LaCHALL Courier-Post

Kim Corelli of Hightstown (from left) and her friend Shannon Tilghman of Hamilton chat as they attend a singles event by  held at Taylor's in Cherry Hill.

CHRIS LaCHALL Courier-Post

Donna Barnett of Ocean City (from left) and Michelle Mayza of Woodbury attend a singles event by held at Taylor's in Cherry Hill

"Besides, I also think it's kind of a chick thing. Believe me, I've got more than enough to keep me busy."

Others are little less nonchalant. Fortune, who hosts a regular South Jersey singles group through Meet, said she can't help but confront some of the introspection that goes hand in hand with being single on Valentine's Day. 

"Of course it's a little rough," said Fortune, 41, of Lumberton. "I've been single for a long time now and haven't found a decent relationship lately. And you'd like to have somebody. But I would still say I think of Valentine's Day as a positive thing. You still have to believe there is a chance for love, right?"

If national statistics are any measure of that hope, it appears wannabe romantics are the rule and not the exception. According to a recent MSNBC poll, Americans spent $13.7 billion on the holiday in 2007. Moreover, Hallmark claims V-Day is second only to Christmas when it comes to greeting card sales, with at least half of the U.S. population purchasing at least one card in anticipation of the holiday.

On the flip side, approximately one in four Americans said they didn't celebrate the holiday at all in 2007.

"Being single on Valentine's Day doesn't bother me at all. I don't go for all that cliche," said Cindy Campizzi, 47, of Washington Township. "When I was 17, it was tough to be alone on Valentine's Day, but not 30 years later."

Campizzi recently attended a Lock and Key singles party at Taylor's Bar & Grill in Cherry Hill. Having been divorced for three years, she said it was finally time to start getting out and enjoying her freedom as a single individual.

"I love being single now. I love where I am and who I am right now. I get to be me. I did the wife, mother, raise-a-family thing, and now it's my time. And I'm having a good time with it."

Michelle Mayza, 47, of Woodbury, also attended the singles night at Taylor's and said she is equally comfortable in her single life. "I was married for 20 years, and at first I had to get my head on straight because I was really heartbroken. But I'm back in the game now and I'm cool with it," she said. "Before I was depressed and I would cry a lot. But it's good now. And as long as I'm happy with myself I can be happy in a relationship."

At 36, Dianna Dawson of Cinnaminson said that while she is finally at peace with being single after her divorce two years ago, the most difficult part is relating to her non-single friends.

"It's hard because when you are married you have a network of other friends who are married. Then you become single and it's like you're suddenly in a different place," she said at the close of South Jersey Java's Friday night speed date outing. "I think some of them feel pity for me, but I'm like, "Ya know what? I'm good.' If I find love, that's great. If I don't I'm good with that, too."

But what about the approaching V-Day?

"Valentine's Day will be depressing. That's when everyone will remind you that you're alone and don't have anyone significant. And that kind of makes you feel a little bummed out," she said. "But I'm going to get myself some chocolate-covered strawberries. A present to myself."

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Today's Top 5: Friday
February 6th, 2009 by Anita Overcash in Today's Top Five

Lock and Key Party
(Special events)

Social party presented by  Every guy gets a key and every girl gets a lock with the goal being to interact and match the correct keys to their locks. The process then repeats, giving participants the chance to meet lots of new people. The evening also includes appetizers, cash and prizes. Ages 22-49.

To make reservations, call 704-309-0611 or email 

Fri., Feb. 6, 8-10 pm
$20 in advance

BlackFinn Restaurant & Saloon
210 E. Trade St., Ste B-120

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Singles get an easy ice breaker at the Lock and Key party Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. at Whiskey North in Tampa.  Women get padlocks and men get keys, then the phallic-symbol hunt is on to find some matches.  Those who find the most matches can win prizes such as a bar tab, hotel stays and cash.  To register go to   and use promo code: tbt.  It costs $20 if you use the promo code, $25 if you RSVP on the Web site or $30 at the door.  Whiskey North is at 11921 N Dale Mabry in Tampa.

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Lock and Key Singles Event

How It Works

Every woman gets a padlock. Every man gets a key. Your goal is to match the right key with the right padlock. Every time you unlock you get a ticket that enters you into the drawing to win great prizes from our party sponsors. Prizes such as cold hard cash, hotel stays, dinners, tickets to popular things to do and more. After every unlock you get another lock or key so you can get back into the fray and meet more people!

Volte Restaurant & Lounge
7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
211 W. Washington St.
South Bend, IN 46601

Parking: Free parking in the Holiday Inn/Chase Building covered parking garage.

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Baltimore Living | 2007 Baltimore Living Winners  9/19/2007

Best Singles Event

Lock and Key Parties

Sometimes sitting around at a bar waiting to meet that someone special or even that someone special enough for the night can be downright depressing. There are a lot of creeps out there, and the only thing worse than being hit on by them is not being hit on by them. Well, the Lock and Key parties held at bars around town make meeting people a lot easier and pretty entertaining as well. All the women get little diary-style locks and all the guys get keys that they spend the evening trying to fit in the women's locks. Sure, it's absurdly phallic, but it's also an easy conversation starter that keeps people mingling and moving--which is great, especially if the guy trying to stick his key in your lock is a total bore. Best of all, when we went there were a number of attractive, interesting people in attendance. Oh, and there are also prizes--you know, beyond the prize of potentially meeting the person of your dreams.

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Dating menus: You can change yours
By Jocelyn Voo

(LifeWire) -- For singles suffering from Goldilocks syndrome -- this person's too beefy, that one's too scrawny; this person's too rich, that one's not rich enough -- niche dating may help you find a match that's just right.

Whatever your aim or interest, dating trends such as these go beyond wine tasting events and friend-of-a-friend referrals.

...article excerpt

Lock and key parties

At lock and key parties women wear small padlocks and men wear keys around their necks, with the goal being to find your match.

"What's great about this concept is guys can approach women and not get rejected on the spot," says Darren Waldholz, 40, president and owner of Lock and Key Events, headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. "They can at least try out their key on the lock as an icebreaker."

Typically, a key fits a couple locks. If a couple finds that theirs match, they get raffle tickets for a prize drawing, but the main point of this gimmick is just to have fun and break the ice, organizers say.

What started as an updated version of a college theme party has become a bona fide business, with parties thrown in more than 60 cities nationwide, many on a monthly basis.

And to give this mixer its due, the events actually have success stories: "We had a couple get married and wear their locks and keys at their wedding around their necks," Waldholz says.

LifeWire provides original and syndicated lifestyle content to Web publishers. Jocelyn Voo is a freelance journalist and relationships editor at the New York Post.

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Unlocking romance 
Working the room is the key to success at the latest singles party to hit the Twin Cities.
Pioneer Press
Article Last Updated: 04/17/2007 10:26:13 PM CDT

In her quest for a mate, Beth Cloutier has found herself looking for the person who holds the key. Not the key to her heart, but the actual key to a lock she wore around her neck at a recent singles party.

Lock and Key parties - already popular in New York and Miami - have made their way to the Twin Cities. Next month, Miami-based will hold its second soiree at Trocaderos Nightclub in downtown Minneapolis.

Upon arrival, women are given a necklace with a brass padlock; men are armed with keys. Both sexes work the room trying to match the two to four keys that go with a lock. Those who find the most matches are eligible for prizes - $75 in cash, a two-night stay at a hotel or $50 off your bar tab.

Heart locket

"The locks and keys make for a great ice breaker," says 31-year-old Cloutier who attended the first Lock and Key party at Trocaderos in March. "You can go up to someone and talk to them without hesitation."

The goal is not to become smitten with your lock match but to meet as many people as possible while playing the game. Cloutier, a payroll specialist who lives in Minneapolis, finds the parties less intimidating than the online and speed- dating services she has tried since her divorce three years ago.

"You can spend more time chatting with people if you want to get to know them," says Cloutier, who went on several dates after the event. "If you aren't interested, you can be nice and excuse yourself because the key didn't match."

For Shawn Green, who also attended the March event, the appeal of the Lock and Key party was you could go with a group of friends and meet people with similar interests - without too much pressure to make a love connection. "It was just more social," says the 37-year-old Minneapolis resident, a human resources specialist. "I met some terrific people, and we've gone out a couple of times as a group of friends."

Chris Pokladnik liked the fact the event attracted mostly professionals in their mid-20s to late-30s, but he wasn't crazy about the prizes. They interfered with what could have been longer social interactions, he says.

"The point of it was that people could mingle with each other," says the 32-year-old Fridley resident who works in insurance. "But some people were working on just trying to get tickets."

Dora Harris, who coordinates the local Lock and Key parties, also organizes local speed-dating events. She says participants are forced to take more initiative at Lock and Key parties than at other dating events. They have an hour and a half to find matches. When a cover band starts jamming to Prince songs, that's the cue for the minglers to wrap up and exchange phone numbers if they haven't done so already.

"Unlike things like speed dating, where you find out if someone's interested in you the next day," she says, "it's up to you to make the effort to see someone again right there and then."

Nancy Ngo can be reached at or 651-228-5172.

What: Lock and Key party for singles in their 20s to 40s
May 19 , 7-9:30 p.m.
Trocaderos Nightclub, 107 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis
$20, includes one drink and appetizers
Online:  or send e-mail to 

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Insert first, ask questions later
Lock and Key parties open the door to other singles.


Brian Quines, Courtney Croitori and 
Devin Schoeffler try their luck.


See more "Lock and Key" photos in 
our photo gallery.

Lock and Key events

Here are a couple of tentative dates for future Lock and Key Events.  Check for updated info.

March 10 at V2O, 
81 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, 

April 28 at Shark Club, 
841 Baker St., Costa Mesa, 

Price: $25 pre-registration; 
$27 at the door with RSVP; 
$30 at the door without RSVP.

Can a simple lock and key break the ice better than a good pickup line and a strong cocktail? That's what we were wondering when we heard about the Lock and Key Event at Shark Club in Costa Mesa.

The concept is simple and just perverse enough to grab our attention: At a Lock and Key party, each man is handed a key and each woman is handed a lock. The curious singles are encouraged to whip out their tools and try to open as many locks as they can in two hours.

Every couple who finds a match is rewarded with raffle tickets, and at the end of the night, prizes are given away during a drawing. Some of the prizes include spa treatments, cold hard cash (twenty-five big ones) and passes to future Lock and Key Events.

Looking to score either a prize or a soul mate, SqueezeOC staffers Courtney Croitori, Devin Schoeffler and Brian Quines primped themselves and headed to Shark Club.

Here's the unlocked truth on what happened:

Easy like Sunday morning

Courtney Croitori: You enter the room and there's great trepidation because all eyes are on you, you're wearing a nametag and you've willingly put yourself into a pool of singles in quest of someone special.

How fitting that the event was held at the Shark Club, where we were sized up upon entry. As all eyes are on us, I think, "What am I doing here?!" I notice men who are not my type and instantly wish I wasn't wearing a nametag.

Suddenly a handsome young man emerges and I forget my unease. Still, others are staring. "Brian, Devin - a glass of wine - stat!" The small room fills with an extremely diverse crowd in their late 20s to those more distinguished.

During the initial 20-30 minutes, it seems we've forgotten how to socialize, but once armed with lock, key and mission, we commence "small talk." You're forced to, really, because it's a bit inappropriate to just jab your key into a lady's lock without at least a "Hello, my name is..."

These gentlemen were in good spirits, the wallflowers bloomed into forward types, and being approached with "Hey, Courtney" instead of some half-baked overused pickup line made me feel comfortable.

There seemed to be an even ratio of men to women in the room of around 75. The small talk, while awkward at first, became a breeze and soon we were having actual conversations - and enjoying them.

You learn who was born and raised here, the new transplants from the East Coast, Midwest or overseas. For many, me included, it was their first time at an event like this.

My lock was opened twice in a row by Isaac Ortiz, a 37-year-old from San Juan Capistrano. This was his second time at a Lock & Key event that he first heard about through a friend.

Approaching a woman or man is definitely nerve-racking but this event proved an easy way to socialize with a lot of interesting people at once.

"The club setting sort of breaks the ice so you can talk with other girls, and they take the time to talk and tell stories about themselves," said Ortiz.

Though he hasn't made a love connection, he admits his friends have done pretty well for themselves. He suggests if you simply approach the evening with an attitude of having fun and an open mind, leaving with a new friend, at the very least, is a plus.

"Maybe you'll make a long-lasting relationship; maybe you won't, but you're connecting," Ortiz said.

Here's one lady's total for the evening:
 - 1 proposal of marriage from a mature Frenchman
 - 1 aura read by a gentleman who was drawn to my "glow" (he didn't tell me what color).

Are those keys in your pocket?

Devin Schoeffler: Our group hit the scene at about 7 p.m. The crowd was sparse.

First things first: I ordered a rum and coke; I knew I was going to need it. It must have been pretty strong because I turned around and the room was suddenly buzzing with singles of every age, race and creed. It was tempting to jump the gun and start mingling, but I waited patiently.

Finally, the event coordinators handed out the small locks and tiny keys. Hey, it's not the size of your key, it's how you turn it!

It's hard to believe that hardware so small could break down such huge inhibitions. It didn't matter who I was talking to, any apprehensions or thoughts of rejection vanished as soon as my key slid past those tumblers. It was like breaking the ice with a blazing, hot ice pick. Easy and oh, so smooth.

Two locks in and I made my first match: Lara Tucker from Murrieta. Lara and I made our way to the front of the room, grabbed our raffle tickets, new hardware, and parted ways after a brief chat. It's true what they say: You never forget your first. Lara and I would see each other throughout the night and continued to try for another match with renewed vigor!

By the end of the event, I only matched two locks total, but I did meet a few nice women, went home with a phone number, and was even searched by a rather frisky girl looking to steal my raffle tickets.

"Are those keys in your pocket?" she asked. " ................yeah," I replied.

My totals for the evening:
 - 2 locks opened.
 - 4 drinks purchased for a few select lovely ladies.
 - 1 follow-up call made to a woman almost twice my age.

Losing lock and key virginity

Brian Quines: The night started like a microcosm of my love life. In a room full of energetic singles - all decent-looking and very nice people - I was unable to find a lady with compatible hardware.

It's not like I had to find someone who shared the same interests, wants and needs. I just needed to find a lock that fit my key.

I tried unlocking the locks of about 30 women in about 25 minutes and didn't find a single match. Some of the ladies were even wearing two locks (not quite sure what that says about their sex lives).

I started to think my key was defective, or maybe it's my destiny to be lonely.

People around me were unlocking each other like they had skeleton keys.

My luck changed when I found Melissa Connely, 44, of Chino Hills. Like most of the women I met that night, she stuck her lock in my face. "Hey Brian, see if you can unlock me," she said.

I stuck my key in her lock, turned the key and BAM! The lock opened.

She screamed. I felt this overwhelming sense of relief. Does anybody have a light? I need a cigarette.

This was the first time Melissa was unlocked, too.

"It was like a lock orgasm," she said.

Melissa was "tired of meeting losers at bars" and decided to try Lock and Key - her first single's event.

"This is a great way to meet singles. This is very creative and it's easy to interact with people. It far exceeded my expectations," she said.

After Melissa, my confidence got a boost. I approached every woman again with my new key. I'll admit that I wasn't attracted to everyone - some were just another raffle ticket to me.

The night was definitely a success, even though I didn't leave with a phone number or a lovely lady from the event. I did get to practice my mack skills and had a good time meeting other singles in the no-pressure environment.

My totals for the night:
- 5 locks opened (more than Devin and Courtney combined).
- 1 case of grab ass by a boisterous cougar.
- 6 pecks given on the cheeks of "fun" women.


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February 9-11, 2007

Where to take or find your Valentine
Single or coupled, here's the scoop

By Perrie Samotin
Special to amNewYork 

Single?  Who cares, it's only another night engineered by Hallmark anyway - right? Check out these spots whose mission it is to celebrate V-day singletons.

...article excerpt...

137 Ludlow St. 

In a festive throwback to your golden days in alpha-epsilon-pi-omega-beta-gamma, gals get a stylish padlock to wear around her neck and guys get - what else - a key. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to deduce what comes next. For every match, the couple is given raffle tickets for a chance to score cash, a cruise, dinner, spa treatments and more.  Space is super-tight, so check out www.lockandkeyevents. com for more info and other upcoming events. Doors open at 7 p.m.

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February, 2007

Looking for Love

The store shelves are packed with chocolates and teddy bears, leaving singles feeling left out during this holiday of love. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 80 million adults are single on Valentine's Day: With so many singles, the mission of matching mates has transformed into an industry, finding love for people with different lifestyles, schedules, professions and interests. Here are some of the services, events and programs to help in making that special connection.

by Beth Joseph

Looking for Love

Speed Dating

Can't see spending an entire dinner or movie with someone that isn't a match? Speed dating was designed to create mini-dates, giving singles several chances for a match in one night.

Pre-Dating ( has expanded to South Jersey with speed dating that caters to single professionals. "This is a great way for singles to participate in up to 16 dates in one event," said corporate trainer Sundrea Ryan. "I met my boyfriend at an event and we are now planning to be married."

Pre-Dating organizes monthly speed dating events in more than 85 cities across the United States. Depending on the group size, 12 to 16 tables are set up with the men rotating every six minutes to the next table and date. Each member fills out a match sheet based on their conversations during the dates and at the end of the event each single is given a list of matches.

" is excited be returning to the South Jersey area and we look forward to matching singles in the area," said Lorraine Orosz, Southern New Jersey event coordinator.

A pre-Valentine event is scheduled at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, February 6 at 10 West Bar and Lounge in Galloway. This will be one of 85 countrywide meetings that night in an attempt to become the largest simultaneous speed-dating event. The cost is $30 and includes admission to the event plus a 30-day membership to For more information, or to sign up, visit or call Lorraine at 732-841-3045.

Those in their 40s and 50s can try the Jewish Community Center (JCC) speed dating on Wednesday, February 7. Singles will have several 10-minute dates along with a wine and cheese reception. The evening continues with a mingle session and program and every participant leaves with a list of "matches" from the night's dates.

JCC speed dating is an exciting, quick and pressure-free evening for daters. Held at the Jewish Community Center in Margate, the event begins at 7 p.m. Participation is $20 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Prior registration is required. For more information, contact Josh Cutler at 609-822-1187 ext 38 or visit

Dating Services

Looking to meet people and promote your business? The Atlantic City Singles Networking Group does both with its combination of a social and professional group. Geared for a 36-to-60-year-old age range, AC Singles Network offers monthly social events for business people of all types.

Socials include free appetizers, an ice-breaker activity and door prizes. Each event brings in 50-70 people and approximately one third are casino employees ranging from slot technicians to executives.

Events are held from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month, with the location and theme changing for every event. This month, the AC Singles Network Group social will be held on February 7 at the House of Blues Foundation Room. The theme is Ravishing in Red with all participants wearing their most radiant red apparel. All are welcome. The fee is $20 at the door; $10 for members.

"With upscale venues, it is business-oriented yet social and each time the event changes so it remains interesting with different games and themes," said Riana Milne, owner of AC Singles Networking Group.

Since its introduction in May 2006, there have been 10 success stories and countless professional contacts have been made. To sign up or for more information about Atlantic City Singles Networking Group, contact Riana Milne at

Lock and Key introduces a more outgoing approach to making a match with a party atmosphere at game-like events.

"Lock and Key events are a great alternative to the club scene and traditional socials since the fun and unique ice-breaker format ensures you meet tons of new people," said Darren Waldholz, owner of Lock and Key Events. "We take a regular happy hour and mix in the ultimate ice-breaker."

Offering a different feel from formal speed dating, at Lock and Key events women are given locks while the men have the keys. The goal is to walk around and find a fit. Each key matches three locks and vice versa. With more than 100 members at each event there are dozens of match opportunities. Every time a match is made and the set is unlocked, members get a raffle ticket entering them to collect door prizes including hotel stays, dinners, entertainment tickets and even cash.

"It was so easy to strike up conversations and make small talk with so many women - much better than the typical nightclub," said Jim, a Philadelphia participant. "The price was right, the people were friendly and the women were attractive. I am looking forward to the next one."

 The cost is $25 per event, but discounts are offered through the website Plans for events in the Atlantic City area are currently under way.

Created in 1992 and now with more than 90 locations worldwide, It's Just Lunch ( offers clients a proactive approach to casual dating. Located in Marlton, New Jersey, the company is a specialized dating service for busy professionals. With 30,000 members worldwide, approximately 95 percent of its clients are college graduates and 80 percent have post-graduate degrees.

The process begins with an one-hour interview to find what a person is looking for, his or her own interests and what has and has not succeeded in past relationships. This information is then used to pair clients based on personality and physical requirements.

It's Just Lunch staffers arrange everything from casual meetings between individuals for a simple lunch or drinks after work. The client's only job is to show up for the date and call the service with post-date feedback. Over the past 15 years, It's Just Lunch has arranged more than 2 million first dates and is responsible for thousands of marriages.

The Online Scene

With millions of people searching the internet daily it is only inevitable there are website networks available to assist in finding the perfect partner. From Yahoo personals to Myspace, there are hundreds of sites designed to connect people together. Online sites allow singles to break the ice before making the jump of meeting in person. The following national dating sites have strong Atlantic County memberships and love-match success.

eHarmony ( was founded by relationship expert Dr. Neil Clark Warren using scientific research to pair singles together. Clients complete a 436-question relationship questionnaire that is then used for a 29-point Dimensions of Compatibility Matching System. The system matches singles that share compatibility, using important life traits including values, character, intellect, sense of humor, spiritual views and passion.

According to the fall 2005 Harris Interactive study, "90 eHarmony members get married every day."

The "World's Largest Online Dating Service," Match ( brought love to more than 400,000 singles in 2006. Clients simply browse the site's database describing the type of person they are interested in meeting.

Spanning across six continents, 32 countries and in 18 languages, searches can be narrowed by geographic region, age, ethnicity and interests. Members fill out a free personal profile including up to 26 photographs enabling other members to find them online. has found that members with photographs are 15 times more likely to get responses. Upon subscribing for a fee, clients can send up to 50 e-mails daily to potential love interests.

Let's face it, a physical attraction is important in every relationship and the internet site Hot or Not ( nails that issue right on the head. The website allows visitors to choose "Hot" or "Not" for each member and even rate them based on a 1-10 scale. Not a sophisticated matching method, the site is run by two guys in their apartment.

The site is similar to other services by narrowing searches by age, location and keyword. Under the user's picture is a brief description along with keywords that portray them. Members can then vote whether they would like to meet this person. A match is made when both members click "Yes" on each other's pictures. Since its launch in 2000, the site has counted over 12 billion votes and numerous happy relationships.

Below are five relationship tips to make the dating experience a little easier

1. Be yourself. Don't stretch the truth to impress your date because sooner or later the real you is going to come out. Relationships should be based on trust.

2. Conversation is key. Speak clearly and don't mumble. Ask questions and try not to talk about yourself too much. Be a good listener.

3. Never bring up old relationships on a first date. Keep your relationship past to a minimum; talking about your ex is the first step to have your date looking for the exit.

4. Never answer your cell phone on a date. Keep your cell on silent. You have set this time aside to get to know another person, so do it without interruptions.

5. Don't play games. If you say you are going to call, call. Follow your instincts, not "rules," when it comes to the relationship.

Beth Joseph is Assistant Editor of Casino Connection magazine.

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February, 2007


ESSENCE Truth or Dare Dating Challenge

We dare you to rev up your love life in February. Take our advice for 28 days and you'll learn how to get a man's attention, land a great first date, even clinch a second. Sure, these tips from experts, real men and editors require a bit of boldness, but as the saying goes, Nothing ventured...

2. Check out a Lock and Key Party.
You're guaranteed to meet many eligible men at these events, at which every woman gets a locket and every guy gets a key. Mingling is inevitable because the goal of the gathering is to discover whose key fits into your lock. Find a party in your area at

Why it works: "For just $15 to $45 you get a party experience with music, food, drinks and really cute guys," says Tosin Ola, aka Vixen, the woman behind The Bad Girls Guide blog ( 

3. just ask a brother out, already.
That guy you've had your eye on? Give him a smile and ask him if he'd like to have dinner on Friday or go to a book reading this weekend.

Why it works: He just might accept! Need we say more?

4. Make it easy for him to approach you.
"Overtly suggest how he can ask you out," says Joyce Morley-Ball, a psychotherapist and relationship expert in Decatur, Georgia. Mention activities you would enjoy with him, and tip him off to when you're free.

Why it works: Men fear rejection, big time. But you're assuring him there's nothing to worry about.

5. Flirt with men you're not interested in.
Touch the postman's shoulder when you thank him for directions, tell the cabdriver this is the smoothest ride you've had all week, or mention to the 411 operator that you think he has a great voice.

Why it works: Practice makes perfect, and you'll want to be adept at flirting when a handsome catch walks into your life.

6. Don't decide for yourself.
Whether checking out brothers at a party, a club or online, let your best friend pick the guy you should go for. Why it works: "She may select someone you'd never even consider, and sometimes a guy you don't think is your type is the best one for you," says Taylor.

7. Seek spiritual guidance.
The pastor of your church is an unusual but excellent dating resource.

Why it works: "He knows everyone in the church, including who's single and looking," says Vixen. 

8. Take an AP class in dating.
Whether its experts are teaching you how to flirt like a pro in Dallas or giving a makeup makeover in Chicago, offers courses nationwide to boost your dating quotient. Why it works: At about $20 to $40 per event, even if the advice doesn't get you a guy, you're bound to have a blast meeting new people who might later introduce you to someone. 

9. Date EIGHT guys in one evening. 
Get dressed up in your cutest outfit and go to a speed-dating event, like the ones hosted by, or Sign up early - - they fill up fast. 

Why it works: With the number of guys you'll meet in just one night, you're bound to click with someone.

10. Get out of town.
Traveling on business? Hit a happy hour in a commercial district or a hotel bar that's popular with locals. On a solo vacation? Dine at restaurants where you can eat at the bar or there's open seating to up your chances of rubbing elbows with a single guy.

Why it works: Travel broadens your horizons, automatically making you more open to new possibilities and people. "Embrace the fear you may feel about leaving your comfort zone, and you'll be more receptive to the men you meet," says Amy DuBois Barnett, author of the soon-to-be-published Get Yours: The Girlfriend's Guide to Having Everything You Ever Dreamed Of ...And More! (Broadway Books).

Continued on Page 2

Read the rest of the story online at Essence Magazine or in the February 2007 print issue.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Club Scout 
Rise Nightclub 
Rise is under Lock and Key. 
By Tuyet Nguyen 
Nov 16, 2006

Club Scout needs a boyfriend. Really. I'm a nice girl. I like metal and I have my own transportation. I also don't kick puppies. Usually.
Anyone? Hello?

Show Details 

Who / What:
Rise Nightclub

Music Genre:  
Dance Clubs

If I'm not your type, then maybe there's some other totally good-looking lady out there for you, and you might meet her this Friday at Rise Nightclub, located at 1909 Blake Street. The trendoid LoDo spot is hosting Denver's very first Lock and Key event, where singles mingle just like those commercials -- except without the stilted acting. The concept is a social experiment that brings together speed-dating, the bar scene and middle-school kitsch. Ladies get locks and guys get keys; then the sexes consort in search of a match.

"Our trademark is that it is the ultimate icebreaker," says Darren Waldholz from his Florida office. Waldholz, owner of, which organizes most of the hook-up benders, acquired the upstart company earlier this year after buying it from his former bosses at, Inc.

Since then, the love fever has spread with event coordinators now based in 21 cities -- from the lonely plains of Dubuque, Iowa, to the frat-dude territories of Tucson, Arizona. And every party, Waldholz assures me, draws large crowds of busy professionals ready to get biz-zay with it. "Women approach the men just as much as the men approach the women," he says. "And for the guys who are shy, it really brings something out in them. They don't have to worry about coming up with creative pick-up lines. And women don't have to come up with creative ways to reject them."

Because everything is self-directed, introductions could last thirty seconds or three hours. If you unlock your lock, you get to turn it in for a raffle ticket to win posh prizes like spa packages, dinners or hotel stays. Then you get a new lock/key and start all over again. And love ain't free, either: It's $25 for ladies, $30 for men. To ensure an even ratio of birds to bees (all between the ages of 21 and 49), limited space is available -- so register now at or call 720-364-7588.

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Posted November 15 2006

Lovers on lockdown

Singles: By now, you know the drill. The speed-dating event known as Lock and Key gives dating hopefuls the chance to take their keys and unlock the locks of prospective dates in a no-pressure atmosphere. This weekend, Lock and Key arrives at Resort nightclub in CityPlace. The event includes a free cocktail, appetizers and samples of the hangover remedy Sober-Up. Raffles and door prizes will happen throughout the night, 7:30-10 p.m. Saturday at 700 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach (RSVP at 754/264-5109 or, $22 in advance or $35 at the door.

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Bar Scars | Clubs  

Brand New Key
Picking Locks at Club One  

City Paper Bar Scars-Cam

Club One 
300 E. Saratoga St., (410) 230-0049

By Anna Ditkoff

It always seems to happen this way. I inevitably start dating someone in between deciding to attend a singles event for this column and the singles event itself. So, I have to admit that when I went to the lock and key party at Club One, I had visions of someone already dancing in my head. Not exactly a state conducive to dating games.

The idea behind a lock and key party is that all the women get locks and all the men get keys. The men and women then walk around trying to

unlock the locks. If you succeed, you get a  raffle ticket and a new lock or key, so you can start all over again. The whole concept is almost ridiculously sexual--come on, men walking around trying to stick their keys in every lock they can find. But according to the promoters, it's just an innocent icebreaker to get people talking.

Innocent or not, getting someone to go with me was challenging. I finally convinced one male friend who's usually game for anything, insisting that he would only go if he got an official nickname in this column. I agreed and was going to crown him the King of Game, but the fact that he spent a large portion of the night sitting at the bar, nursing his free whiskey and text-messaging his girlfriend, dropped him a few spots in the line of succession to the Viscount of Game.

So, the Viscount and I headed to One. When we arrived we were handed name tags, a couple of raffle tickets, one free drink voucher, a 50 percent coupon for SafeDate, a company that does background checks on potential dates, 'cause that's not creepy at all, and some Sober Up, a self-proclaimed hangover remedy. Apparently organizers were expecting a lot from this night. The Viscount and I, not so much. He, too, had someone else he was thinking about--I swear I tried to find a single friend to go with me, but not-married or engaged was all I could muster. What an odd feeling to be cursing the fact that my friends are all happy.

Anyway, the Viscount was concerned that by coming together we would look like swingers. "Men and women can be friends," I said, because stating the obvious is fun, before adding, "Just don't key-block me."

We took our booty to the bar to get our drinks before the event started. The Viscount got a rail whiskey, and I received the worst sea breeze I have ever had the misfortune of drinking. But once I sipped it down a bit, the bartender graciously agreed to add more cranberry juice, making it palatable. In the rock-paper-scissors game of mixed drinks, nothing beats cranberry juice.

As soon as the Viscount and I stepped away from each other, we started meeting people. A guy named Dave, who used to work in radio, came up to me. He was super nice, and we had a fun conversation about local media. Meanwhile, the Viscount was continuing his long streak of being catnip for secretaries in their 40s. "I wish you were older," said one. "Then I would actually hit on you." Another explained that it's "not that you look old, but you have a maturity about you." I would have to argue that one.

Finally, it was time to get started. Up on One's second floor, the hostess explained how the game is played and instructed us not to get too focused on just trying to win raffle tickets and forget to actually talk to people.

We lined up and got our locks and keys. It was a pretty interesting crowd, a mix of races and ages and levels of hotness that pretty much ran the gamut. After a bit of initial shyness, people got down to trying to find their match. Dave tried his key in my lock, but it didn't fit. So did Marc, a bioengineer who likes to dance. I talked to a jocular guy from India with an infectious laugh. I told him I've never been to India. "Really?" he said, incredulous. "But there are so many of us." I had to clarify that I had never been to India, not that I had never met an Indian. Another guy came up to me and, reading my name tag, said, "Anna like Anna and the King?" I couldn't help picturing him on some web site memorizing movies with women's names in the title for just such an occasion. And then there was Bernard, a middle-aged man who seemed wasted before the event even got under way. Bernard was insistent that he was going to get my key. I just smiled and walked nervously away.

Meanwhile, the Viscount also was making the rounds. One of his admirers told him, "Most guys I'm meeting here don't know how to put it in." Assuming she was talking about the keys--and let's do that, shall we?--I had to agree. A lot of guys fumbled around with their keys, awkwardly poking at the lock and trying to force their keys in the wrong way. There seemed to be an art to it. The guys who did it best were the ones who took the woman's lock in their hands and then gently put their key in, giving it a firm twist. I know this all sounds ridiculously graphic. What can I do? The key is a penis, people. The lock's a vagina. It barely counts as a double entendre.

Despite the hostess' advice, people were working for those raffle tickets like they were giving away a car, which they were not. (The best prize I remember was a hotel stay.) Locks were flying open left and right, and I was still standing there with my very first lock. After a while, I started to get a reputation. One guy suggested my lock was too tight. Classy. Another said I should I stand closer to the lock and key table so I got first crack at the keys. Apparently, it's all about strategy. Another man tried my lock, and when it didn't work laughed and said, "It's not me. It's you." Sweet. My lock is totally frigid.

The Viscount completely abandoned me for texting his girlfriend. Finally, I gave up on finding my match and got a new lock. This one was surprisingly slutty and opened for the first guy that gave it a go. My third lock took a bit more trying, and as the night wore on people seemed to be looking to couple up, so as I tried to get my lock opened, I had to judge when I had to leave a conversation to avoid getting asked out. This task was particularly hard because there were a lot of nice, fun, good-looking guys there who I actually enjoyed talking to. Dave continued to prove funny and charming, as did Tom, a very handsome engineer from Catonsville, who told me that he once went to a speed-dating event and ended up on TV when one of the women turned out to be a reporter. Apparently, Tom's life has a few odd repeating themes of its own.

As the end of the night neared, my third lock still hadn't been opened. And, once again, Bernard sauntered over to me, convinced he could give me some sweet key action. I gave him a forced smile and offered up my lock, and wouldn't you know it, Bernard had the key to my lock. He then, of course, promptly put his arm around me and suggested we get a hotel room. Oh well, they can't all be Daves and Toms.

So the verdict for lock and key? It was actually really fun. I talked to a lot of people I might never have met otherwise. And the lock-and-key action made it easy to keep moving if you did happen to get cornered by a creep. But the real moral of this story--and feel free to cut this out and tape it to your bathroom mirror, or perhaps stitch it on a decorative throw pillow--is:

A lock and key party is a lot like dating itself--alternately fun and frustrating with a lot more misses than hits. And the person who ultimately unlocks your lock often comes as a complete surprise.

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Open Your Heart
The real question here: How do you not meet a mate? Thanks to the Internet, nontraditional dating has torpedoed beyond the smudged pages of Sunday's classifieds into kinky cyber-world territory. With free online dating services and pseudo-dating Websites like MySpace and Facebook, why bother exerting oneself beyond lifting Cheetos-stained fingers from the keyboard?  Well, the promoters of the Lock and Key parties want to motivate your mojo with a free drink, free sushi (until 9:00 p.m.) and a chance to score $1500 in swag.  
Prepay $20 and pack into Oxygen Lounge with scores of other 21- to 45-year-old groin-aching chatterers tonight from 8:00 to 10:00.  Oxygen is located on the "subterranean level" in the Streets of Mayfair. This begs the question: Will there be ample air supply with all that heavy, wasabi-laden breathing?  Check in at 7:30 p.m. Call 305-476-0202, or visit or
Date/Time: Sat., June 17

Oxygen Lounge
2911 Grand Ave
Coconut Grove, FL

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The Sentinel

Friday, June 16, 2006 

Interview with Jaynie Beard by Lisa Clarke 

The boys of summer aren't the only ones playing the field on City Island this summer. On June 24th local singles can join the Harrisburg Senators and Lock and Key Events for a Pre-Game Lock & Key Party. 

"It's the ultimate icebreaker party. The women get locks, the men get keys and the goal is to mingle and meet people in search of unlocks," says Jaynie Beard, event coordinator. "So through your quest of 50 or more people you are bound to meet a lot of new people and possibly even meet that someone special." 

Each time participants successfully unlock, they are given a ticket for a raffle held at the end of the evening with prizes that include gift certificates to a variety of local restaurants, gym memberships, a $50 cash prize, and passes to future Lock and Key Parties or Pre-dating Events. 

"It's fun, it's very upbeat. It's interactive, so people really get into it and have a good time with it," says Beard. "It's something different to do; it's not your typical singles mixer where people just stand around not knowing what to do. The locks and keys give them a good reason to approach people, and they can approach someone without being embarrassed or worrying about how well they are going to be received. It's really the greatest icebreaker for getting people to meet." 

A luncheon and soft drinks will be served, with beer and wine coolers available for purchase. The party is expected to attract approximately 75 participants, mostly in the suggested age range of 21-45, although all singles are welcome to participate. 

"Generally I get people between the ages of 21 and 55," says Beard. "With so many people there are always plenty of people in each age range, so everyone has plenty of people in their age range to meet." 

Beard has been holding Lock and Key Parties in the area for about 3 years, in local bars and restaurants including the Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg and Doc Holliday's in New Cumberland. 

This party is the first time Beard has joined the Harrisburg Senators for one of her events, and it promises to be unique new experience. She plans to continue developing themed events in the future, including a Christian Singles Lock and Key Event, tentatively scheduled for late summer. 

"I partnered with the Harrisburg Senators to hold the event at the stadium as a way to promote the baseball to local singles and also as a kind of fun summer thing to do," says Beard. "This one is different because we will actually be attending a sporting event after the party. The price of the ticket includes admission to the game that evening." 

In addition to the Lock and Key Parties, Beard also coordinates monthly Pre-Dating Events in the Harrisburg area. Her Lock and Key Parties often attract participants from her other events, as well as new faces. 

But even if Mr. or Ms. Right is a no-show, it's still an opportunity catch a baseball game with some new pals on Date Night. 

So if you're unhappily single, step up to the plate and take a swing at a Lock and Key Party. It's a better Date Night pastime than envying happy couples, and with the right pitch you find yourself seeing fireworks before the game even gets started. 

The Pre-Game Lock & Key Party will be held on Saturday, June 24th, 4:00-6:00 PM in a tent behind the field at Commerce Bank Park on City Island, Harrisburg. Check in begins at 3:30, and pre-registration is required at Sentinel readers can use promo code NEWS for the discounted rate of $30. For more information, visit online or call Jaynie at 717-576-5077.

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Singles invited to Lock and Key Event

Lock and Key Events,, and Mix 106 have come together to sponsor an event for adults from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday in the Upper Deck at Coveleski Stadium, 501 W. South St.

Singles ages 21-49 are invited to participate, with the men getting keys and the women getting locks at the door.  The couples will then mingle and attempt to open the locks throughout the night.  Prizes, donated by local businesses, also will be awarded.

Cost $30 cash at the door.  However, prepaid discounts and reservations are required online at

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Fresh approach is the key  
Dalia Wheatt

Do you have a map? 'Cause I just keep getting lost in your eyes.

Tired of lame pick-up lines? Now there's a way to meet other singles without awkward introductions.

Here's the deal: Lock and Key will be 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday (4/22) at Old New York New York, 18573 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater. Admission is $20 or $25 if you preregister or $30 at the door. Register at (727) 637-6555 or
Lock and Key is a nationwide singles mixer that gives people an excuse to talk to each other - and the chance to win big. It's coming to Clearwater on Saturday (4/22).

Here's how it works: Each woman gets a lock to wear around her neck, and every guy gets a key. (Insert your own suggestive joke here.) Approach a member of the opposite sex to see if your hardware matches, and if it does, you each get a raffle ticket.

At the very least, you could each walk away with cash, a hotel gift certificate, a membership to the Single Gourmet Club in St. Pete, or another freebie. Once you've made a match, go back for another lock or key and try for another prize. The more networking you do, the greater your chances of winning.

Sundrea Ryan, event coordinator for Tampa Bay Lock and Key, said it is a nonthreatening ice breaker for shy singles.

"The easiest thing is that you don't really have to have an approach or a line 'cause you've been given a key," said Ryan, 44, who is single. "Anybody can go up to anybody then and say, 'Hey, let's see if this unlocks so we can get a door prize.' "

All participants receive a one-month membership for, and each woman gets one free background check at

Lock and Key coordinators monitor registration to ensure somewhat of a gender balance, and every key matches several locks. Ryan said about 100 people, mostly from ages 21 to 45, are expected at Saturday's event.

Comments on this article
by Tom from Tampa 04/24/2006 11:02 PM
I had a blast at NY NY this past weekend. Very cool idea!

by Dan Argone from St. Pete 04/21/2006 11:20 AM
Wow, this sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for the heads up on this party! I have heard about this event from friends in NYC and they said it was a blast.

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Night & Day 

Key of Love
Lyssa Oberkreser
You've tried the personals and online dating sites to no avail. Then you found the courage to attend a singles event, but that left you feeling like Molly Ringwald's character in Sixteen Candles, as you dodged a Farmer Ted-like geek all night.  But don't give up just yet; you could meet your perfect partner at tonight's Lock and Key party, where the ladies wear locks and the guys have the keys.  It did, after all, work for Chantal Conkling and Shane Valentine, who met at a Lock and Key event last year and were just married December 3, even though his key didn't open her lock.

"[Shane] was there with one of his friends, and I went just for fun," says Conkling minutes before the dress rehearsal for her wedding.  "We danced and had a good time, and we just started hanging out."  Neither of them was expecting to find a future spouse that night, but those things just happen when you least expect it.  "There were over 200 people there, and it was very casual and fun," says Conkling.  "t was definitely a good mix of people, all young professionals."  

In addition to meeting some cool new friends and a possible date for New Year's Eve, you will have the chance to win fabulous prizes like a cruise, Swedish massages, and dinners for two.  Get keyed in from 8:00 to 10:00 at Oxygen Lounge. Registration costs $20 in advance, $30 at the door, which includes one free drink and sushi appetizers. Sat., Dec. 17, 754-264-5109. Oxygen Lounge 2911 Grand Ave, Coconut Grove 305-476-0202.

 Chantal and Shane - Married on Dec. 3, 2005

When I got the e-mail the other day about the upcoming Lock and Key Event in Delray it brought me back to the night I met Shane almost a year ago. It was Feb. 27 at the Oxygen Lounge in Miami and apparently I was supposed to find the love of my life that night. It's funny how life puts you in the right place at the right time.

We have encouraged many of our friends to attend the Lock and Key Events and one of our best friends is still dating a woman he met at the Oxygen Lounge last Fall. It's a great way to meet singles in a fun, comfortable environment.

If you would like us to attend any of your events, we would be happy to share our story. I'm sure our single friends would join us too! Who might be getting a wedding invitation later this year...

Chantal and Shane
Hollywood, FL

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The LA Gossip Rag

11/ 10/2005

Dr. Phil: Bringing Us Together So He Can Tear Us Apart

Looking for a way to let off a little steam after a tough day's work, maybe even meet someone while you're at it? Care to have the entire thing captured by Dr. Phil's cameras so that the Bald Drawling One can then pour over the footage in front of a national audience, analyzing your every tequila-fueled, regretful come-on? Then our pals at LA.comfidential have pointed us to the answers to your prayers:

Yes, sadly, the women's spaces filled up quickly, with the word hitting some sooner than others (we have it on good authority that Tara Reid's Blackberry is equipped to scan the internet every half hour for the words "free fun shots" and page her if there's a match), but there are still a few spaces for you local fellas! C'mon, what are you waiting for? That salt isn't going to lick itself off of her lipo scars! Comment: 
Views expressed in the Defamer and LA Confidential blogs regarding the Dr. Phil Show 
party are not shared by  We present access to these blog
entries as additional media coverage of our unique icebreaker parties and events.

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The Key to Successful Dating
Lock and Key Events help you meet, maybe fall in love, and win prizes
Samantha Grice
Tuesday, July 8, 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." 

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Got a Minute?
There is always a time for romance -- but with speed dating that would be a limited time

By Marli Guzzetta 
Article Published Jul 3, 2003

Once upon a time in America, cars, movies, and adolescents were all new ideas. Kids courted over cream sodas then necked with each other. In cars. At drive-ins. Two straws in one drink, two bodies in one back seat. Today some call that "innocence," "a simpler time," "a better time." Eventually the sweethearts who met between first and second periods did, as they were expected, marry -- settling happily or suffering silently through adulthood with two beds in one bedroom, two strangers in one marriage, and two feet cemented in the driveway of suburban America.

In the last two decades people have earned themselves freedom -- freedom not to marry young, marry straight, marry within their race, stay married, or even marry at all. As it turns out, being free doesn't guarantee you any dates. But speed-dating companies can. For between $20 and $40 per event, speed daters receive one-on-one time with 8 to 30 people in one night.

Though the big three speed-dating companies -- 8minuteDating, HurryDate, and Pre-Dating -- have their distinguishing characteristics, they all base their events on the same template. Speed-dating singles generally need Internet access to secure an account on the company's Website. (For the time being, this little requirement tends to draw people who have a minimum level of education and/or income.) After registering for an event, the singles gather together in the location of the dating event -- normally a popular restaurant, bar, or club on a weeknight -- to participate in one-on-one dates, timed at a few minutes each.

The daters each have a name tag, which normally includes first name and last initial or first name and ID number, and a "scorecard." They use their scorecards to mark "yes" or "no" for each date. Once the speed daters get home, they log on to the Website and enter the names of the people they liked. If two daters have entered each other, they receive e-mails with the other's contact information. (Companies don't guarantee matches.)

Pre-Dating founder and CEO Vince Gelormine believes his six-minute format is best, but understands that his clients will patronize other companies. "Someone who is single will do multiple things to meet people," says the 36-year-old former investment banker, who is single. "I don't look at any of that as competition. I look at it as if we're providing another tool in the single person's toolbox."

According to the heads of the big three speed-dating companies, the industry has grown more than 400 percent in the past two years, making it the first dating phenomenon unique to the 21st Century. Today 8minuteDating claims to be in more than 70 cities, HurryDate in more than 60, and Pre-Dating in more than 45. This year all three companies can boast at least one impending marriage between clients. Each offers events in South Florida, and each holds a very strong belief in the idea that a few minutes can make a big difference when you're looking for love.

- 8minuteDating -

Most of these events are held on work nights, so speed daters often arrive a bit late and in slightly wrinkled business casual. The first people they meet are the 8minuteDating coordinators -- Nicole Soltau, a friendly and unimposing Asian-American woman, and Tracie Gordon, a gregarious and robust African American.

As candidates enter the Hard Rock CafC) at downtown Miami's Bayside Marketplace, Soltau and Gordon give each a name tag and a scorecard. The scorecard includes suggested conversational topics ("Where are you from? What kind of work do you do? What's the best trip you've ever taken?") as well as rules and tips ("Please, do not ask anyone for their last name, phone number, e-mail address, business card, or for a date..."). A free-drink voucher and an ice-breaker, a riddle on a piece of paper, round out the 8minuteDater's standard materials.

The tables are numbered and set with two votive candles. At each seat, an drink coaster extols that this is "The fast, fun, and guaranteed way to meet someone!" as sixteen tiny, two-dimensional faces smile, slightly smug, as if they discovered this a long time ago.

The 8minuteDating logo is a martini glass with a heart-shaped olive inside. Kebabs, quesadillas, and chicken fingers huddle together in chafing dishes. While waiting for the dating to begin, some of the women pair off and chat; the men waste little time introducing themselves to the women.


By Greg Baker

By Charles Flowers

In speed-dating events, singles gather for one-on-one dates, timed at a few minutes each

By Paul Heidelberg

It can be difficult to meet date-worthy people in these modern times

By Greg Baker

At Oxygen Lounge's "Lock and Key" party, singles try to unlock each other's hearts 

By Tom Austin

 Is it a match? A turn of the key tells all

By Roberta Morgan

Women often stop after three or four events, but men will keep coming back

By Jen Karetnick

Some seek companionship, while others seek a soul mate ...

By Todd Anthony

 ... but either way, compatibility is king

In general it seems that women at male-female speed-dating events socialize with each other far more than do the men. "That's because men are on a mission," explains West Palm Beach's John F.X. Warburton, a psychotherapist who has been working with individuals and couples since 1964. "They think it's something they can control, so they have to find out all the information they can. The guy is looking for the formula while the woman is interested in the process, which is why she talks and exchanges. It's just a different orientation."

Because speed dating is still somewhat new, many of the people who attend are nervous neophytes. Understanding this, Tracie Gordon begins the event with a pep talk: "We're here to have fun. We're all in the same boat. We want to meet people.... Does a match mean I've found true love? No."

Gordon adds that each date lasts eight minutes, at the end of which time she will ring a bell to signal that daters should move to the next table. (At 8minuteDating events, both the men and women change tables.) With the ring of a bell the first round begins, and Gordon watches her daters like a mom on a bench at the playground.

"It's a way to get out and enjoy yourself," she explains. "There's no pressure. If I'm at a bar, I have to wait for someone to talk to me. Here, we're all coming for the same reason. Even if a person doesn't make a connection, he or she can think: 'At least I've gotten to know people I wouldn't have known before.' Also it's a cheap date."

A video crew from Telemundo shows up. (Speed-dating events are crawling with journalists.) The reporter -- guapo, moreno, suave -- and his cameraman rush to set up shop at the back table, where the camera's bright light shines like a third eye as the reporter pretends to have an intimate dating moment.

Almost every man sits the same way -- elbows on the table, leaning forward. "[That position] is two things," begins Warburton, who is also a dancer and performance artist. "It's a thrusting gesture. And it's certainly more intense. It implies being more intimate. I don't know if it means that, but it implies it."

After two dates the ice has broken, or at least melted in drained cocktail glasses, and everyone seems to remember they are all just people talking to other people. By round four Gordon has to ring the bell more than once to get them to move along.

During intermission people use the restroom, step outside for a cigarette, or review their notes from the first four rounds to answer the questions posed on the score sheet ("Was your date respectful?") and to finish this statement: "I would like to contact this person again for: Dating, Friendship, or Business." One man secretly excuses himself and goes home, which means one woman is dateless every round for the rest of the event. When this happens, Gordon gives whoever is sitting out a free-drink voucher. During round eight, the final round, this woman is "Kerry R4H." I sit down to talk with her.

Kerry is an attractive, forthright 34-year-old computer programmer and single mom. She's been having a hard time meeting people. "How do I meet somebody when I've got my face in the computer all day?" she asks. "A lot of people tell me to get a hobby, and I'm sure that would work, but that's where the single-parenting thing comes in. My daughter is a hobby."

This is Kerry's first speed-dating event, and it was not an easy thing for her to do. She closed the registration Webpage twice before finally registering, then didn't tell anyone other than her mother and brother. "I guess if it was a success, I'd tell people that I went," she says. "But since it's not a success yet, I don't want to talk about it. I'm just one of those people who hate to fail at things."

For Kerry, simply attending a speed-dating event is in some way an admission of failure. "I was popular in high school, popular in college. I always had dates," she recounts. "Now, to not have people flocking to me.... My ego says the right man will see me walking down the street and come running. But that's not what happens in the real world. It was hard to admit that I had to do something."

Overall Kerry is impressed with the quality of men. "They were just normal people.... One guy said, 'I didn't think that people actually do this. I wanted to check it out.' I was like, 'What a rude guy.' The reason I wanted to go, the hope that I had, was that I would be sitting across the table from people who were going, 'Yeah, it really is difficult to meet people.' It's kind of disappointing to be a part of someone's little experiment."

I suggest to Kerry that maybe this guy only said that because he is also embarrassed about participating. She agrees this could be true. "But either way," she counters, "I'm immediately turned off. Either you're honest about not wanting to meet people, and I don't want to be sitting with you, or you're lying about not wanting to meet people, and I don't want to be sitting with you."

Even though she will not attempt to match with any of tonight's guys, Kerry remains hopeful for future 8minuteDating events. "I like the concept of sitting two people at a table. There's that awkwardness when you're walking up and starting a conversation with someone and then you find out they're married and there's the wife around the corner giving you a dirty look. This event takes out the awkwardness of starting a conversation."

Sometime in July, Kerry will participate in a single-parent event, which Tracie Gordon is hosting in part because Kerry requested it. "I think that will be the best for me," she says. The only other thing Kerry dislikes about this event is that she didn't have a chance to meet every guy here. (A gripe unique to 8minuteDating.)

With a degree from Tufts University in human factors engineering, Tom Jaffee, the company's 40-year-old founder, sticks by the length of his dates. "There's a concept called Miller's Magic Number -- seven plus or minus two -- which is the number of things your mind can contain at a given time," he explains. "I think people have sort of had enough after having eight or nine dates. The eight minutes is designed to give people enough time to talk about themselves and make an educated decision. And if eight minutes seems like drudgery, you know you probably don't want to spend your precious time with that person anyway."

To what does Jaffee attribute the growing popularity of speed dating? "Word of mouth has been a huge factor. Another factor that fits in is how society has changed. More and more so, people are busy and frustrated with playing games. Areas are transient. People don't have the depth of friends or family to fix them up. This is a very efficient, cost-effective way to meet people. Twenty-eight dollars for the entire evening. That's less than four dollars per date. And what we do is sort of like online dating in reverse. With online dating you exchange information first, and then you get to meet. We're the other way around.

"When you get there, people are kind of nervous," Jaffee continues. "But as soon as they get to that first date all the tension sort of dissipates. A room of single people all interested in meeting someone, they're all about your age and there are no games. They realize this is about as cool as it gets."

John Warburton says "as cool as it gets" is not how he would describe the experience for someone like Kerry. "If they're walking in there with stigmas, they may be laughing on the outside, but they're not laughing on the inside," he muses. "If she goes to those places and does that activity, she can be perceived as a woman longing for, wishing for, wanting -- making her feel more of her vulnerability. Then she feels ashamed about her feelings of vulnerability, which everybody does."

- HurryDate -

I arrive at Fort Lauderdale's OlC) OlC) at the Las Olas Riverfront in the middle of a monsoon, which is probably why a few of the women scheduled for this event don't show up. HurryDate coordinator Dan Benjamin, a single 36-year-old mortgage broker and board member of Young Professionals of Covenant House, presides over the gathering dressed in a referee's jersey, complete with whistle around his neck. He grew up in Hollywood and, like HurryDate founders Ken Deckinger and Adele Testani, graduated from the University of Florida. Dan encourages me to participate. Remembering what Kerry said about feeling like an "experiment" for men who weren't really there to meet people, I hesitate. He assures me the table would just be empty if I abstain, so I write "New Times" under "Marli #15." Dan gives me a HurryDate scorecard adorned with the company logo: a martini olive with a heart inside it.

As a short film, this moment of my life would be called Chasing Ben Affleck (if you know what I mean -- wink), so I'm probably the least nervous. Like 8minuteDating, the men here are, for the most part, handsome, employed, and sweet.

With about 25 dates in one night, singles at HurryDate meet more people in a sitting than at 8minuteDating or Pre-Dating. To accomplish this the coordinators keep each date at a brief three minutes, after which time the men move to the next table. (A gesture of speed-dating chivalry.)

"We picked three minutes for a very specific reason," says 27-year-old Adele Testani. "It's enough time to figure out if there's a basic attraction. It's also short enough that if you don't like the person, you don't have to spend an eternity with them."

A lanky German man wearing a tie is animated and endearing until a piece of spittle flies from his mouth and lands on my face. It's a small and simple misfortune that could happen to anyone, I remind myself, and it wasn't his fault. Still it disables my ability to keep up the staccato of small talk, so I just smile at whatever he's saying, which he takes as a reason to smile wider and stare at me without blinking or looking away. (What kind of gesture would Warburton consider this?) I feel like a strudel two inches from Augustus Gloop -- "Don't lose your head, Augustus. We wouldn't want anyone to lose that now, would we?" -- when the bell finally rings and the next date approaches.

He has a shaved head and ruddy, cupid-bow lips that match the red T-shirt stretched taut over his broad, muscular shoulders. In my eyes he seems to be the most handsome guy in the room. He's also the first HurryDate I have after my Ketel One and tonic kicks in.

"You seem like a good guy."

"And you can tell that in a minute? Whether or not I'm a good guy?"

"Good point. Probably not. What do you do?"

"I run a summer camp for kids."

I think about Kerry from 8minuteDating and wonder what kind of woman this man prefers. When the bell rings I'm sad to see him go.

Toward the end of the event a tall, thin man with a slight Southern accent sits across from me with a drink in his hand. "What the fuck, man? How are you?" he asks. He's very, very loud but friendly. Seeing that I'm a reporter, he confides that women have been asking him if he finds them attractive, then gives me his opinion of his fellow male daters. "Some of these guys are fuckin' nerds, you know. I don't need to take fuckin' notes, man. Do you need to take notes? Here, I'll tell you all you need to know about me. I like to play pool. I like a good steak. I like good red wine. That's all you need. Pool, steak, red wine. Simple. There you go. All right? Take care, sweetheart."

I'm unable to concentrate because the girl next to me is leaning all the way over the table so the young man sitting across from her can smell the perfume on her neck. She has a curtain of long, curly black hair that makes it difficult for me to spy whether or not he's begun to kiss her. It's a small spectacle that I'm having a hard time dismissing. People clearly make matches at these events.

With HurryDate there's really no time for notes or for differentiating whether or not you'd like to know someone for business, friendship, or romance. People are encouraged to circle "yes" or "no" quickly, which I fail to do and am therefore a failure as a HurryDater. At the end of the night the group has blended into a single memory of attractive, professional young adulthood. The dates who stick out are the four I just mentioned -- one of whom wasn't even mine. Still I feel good about the people I met and the way I spent the last two hours, even though I don't enter any matches.

I do, however, hear from "Jason," a 38-year-old software salesman. New to the area, he signed up for HurryDate and told a friend, who laughed at him. Of the experience, he says: "Overall it was a fairly relaxed process, even though the pace was a bit frenetic." He received a few matches but the women never returned his subsequent e-mails. Jason says it's unlikely he'll go to this type of event again but would encourage others to try it. "It's relatively fun, easy, and something to try," he offers. "But I wouldn't expect to meet my soul mate there."

"Even if you don't meet your soul mate, you're gonna have a great night out and just have a fun experience," says Testani, a cheerful young professional who is not above using smiley faces in her e-mails. She met her partner Deckinger when the two were high school students in Boca Raton. (Testani graduated from Spanish River High School in 1993. Deckinger, former "Mr. Boca High," graduated in 1992.)

Testani has participated in her own events. "I was amazed at how exhausted I was at the end of it," she marvels. "The adrenaline was kind of pumping, and I was like, 'Wow, 25 dates go so quickly.'"

Warburton says these short dates rely heavily on something he calls "magical thinking," which he explains this way: "'If I just go and just interact for a few minutes with fifteen to twenty people, I may find my heart's desire.' Not that we don't all do that anyway. The people who put the ['don't expect true love'] disclaimer out do so in order to cut off at the path possible legal actions or hurt feelings.

"But the three-minute date is putting all its money into the magical thinking pot: 'I'm just going to look at her or him and react and think: Ohh, isn't that nice or I don't like him.' This is all based on internal stuff, not the other person."

Younger daters seem to appreciate the more-and-shorter-dates format, which may be why MTV featured HurryDate in one of its Sex2K documentaries. also links to HurryDate's Website to keep its readers informed of same-sex events across the country. Even with all the attention, Testani admits, "There's still a little bit of stigma attached."

- Relay Dating -

Blond, muscular, and very handsome, 39-year-old Edison Farrow bears a striking resemblance to American Idol's Ryan Seacrest. The outfit he dons to host relay dating also bears a striking resemblance to Dan Benjamin's from HurryDate. In a ref's jersey and with a whistle around his neck, Farrow encourages his 37 gay male relay daters at Miami Beach's Lime Bar to take their seats, which are lined up in two long rows of 18. Their dates will last two minutes; then they take the next chair to their right. Because there is an odd number of participants, each man has a break when he reaches the single seat at the head of the two rows. I'm sitting next to this chair, on a stool at the bar. The only woman in the room, I'm like the free space on a Bingo card. When the men reach this seat, they look down the row, which earns the nickname "the gauntlet," and sigh: "Wow, that's a lot of people."

These guys are all pretty handsome, yet not uniform. White, Hispanic, and African American. Some are dressed conservatively, some in club clothes. Some are muscular, others look more bookish. They start each date with a smile and a handshake and everyone seems unguarded and open to conversation -- not something one often sees at, say, a circuit party or a big gay venue. Their two-minute interactions seem very much the same as those at HurryDate -- people ask the same questions, make the same faces.

As I chat with the men in the Free Space, I notice two things. They almost all would have preferred fewer dates and more time. Also they aren't that surprised at themselves for trying speed dating. Quite a number of the men had tried meeting other men online (and echoed the Tom Jaffee sentiment that people online tend not to look the way they describe themselves). For many of these gay men, who have often already used inventive ways to meet potential partners, this was just a new option.

In fact gays, along with Jews, are the pioneers on the speed-dating frontier. The simple explanation for this is that, barring visual cues like a yarmulke or an "Out and Proud" T-shirt, singles from these specific groups are far less likely to rely on sight to identify members of their desired demographic group. (On the other hand, straight singles looking to date someone of the opposite sex need only see people to know whether they're male or female and wearing a wedding ring.) As such, members of these minority groups have traditionally relied on intermediaries -- clubs, temples, bookstores, college groups -- as a way to meet potential partners.

Aish HaTorah describes itself as "an apolitical, international network of Jewish educational centers, providing opportunities for Jews of all backgrounds to discover the wisdom and beauty of their heritage in an atmosphere of open inquiry and mutual respect." In 1998 the Los Angeles branch offered its members something called SpeedDating -- one-on-one dates that lasted seven minutes. With the intention of getting Jewish singles to date within their religion, it was the first one-on-one event of its kind; soon it spread to Aish HaTorah's other North American branches. (In SpeedDating: The Movie, Charlton Heston stars as L.A.'s "Rabbi Yaacov Deyo" -- "Let my people date!")

Before Aish HaTorah, gay men and women had been frequenting similar types of events. Rafael Reisenberg is the 44-year-old founder of Date Bait. Operating solely in New York State and catering to gay, lesbian, and straight singles, Date Bait began in October 1996. (I participated in one of its events during the summer of 2001, when I was living in Brooklyn.) Unlike speed dating, it offers group interaction (not one-on-one dates), although it does offer anonymous and synchronized matchmaking events.

So why do these speed-dating companies trace their lineage solely to Aish HaTorah? "Well, before SpeedDating was established, Aish HaTorah was already established as a nationwide company," Reisenberg notes. "So once their L.A. branch started it, they could really spread the idea quickly. All the other ones that have come since then are following the SpeedDating format."

Aish HaTorah trademarked the term "SpeedDating" (capital "S," capital "D," no space), but it couldn't patent the format, nor could it patent the consecutive use of the words "speed" and "dating." In 2001 8minuteDating, then HurryDate, FastDater (also in South Florida), and Pre-Dating first set their numbered placards on tables for two, and the speed-dating industry was born.

"Kevin," a 33-year-old relay dater who works in retail management, first learned about speed dating on Oprah. "The topic of the show was women who have a hard time meeting a quality man. And I thought, 'Hmmm, that's kind of interesting.'"

Kevin says he's tried everything -- "bars, clubs, blind dates. It's kind of hard to meet somebody you want to connect with. You can have quantity but you won't find a lot of quality."

Though he has realistic expectations for this event, Kevin says he always has his eye out for the person with whom he is going to spend the rest of his life. "I think that's the one thing we all really want. Gay or straight."

- Pre-Dating -

With dates that last six minutes apiece, Pre-Dating president Vince Gelormine thinks his events are a compromise between HurryDate and 8minuteDating. "In three minutes it's hard to get past the small talk," he says. "It's okay for a younger crowd, but the older you go the less they like the three minutes. If you go beyond six minutes, it starts getting too long. Plus with the eight-minute dating you don't get to meet every person in the room."

Gelormine, who is based out of Broward County, ran his first event in Fort Lauderdale in December 2001. Of the three big speed-dating companies, Pre-Dating offers the greatest variety of dating events in South Florida. "If there's one thing I've learned," Gelormine declares, "it's that everyone has preferences."

Over the next month or so Pre-Dating will host events for black women/white men as well as white women/black men. His most popular event is older women/younger men. He also has a category for "plus-size admirers" as well as tall women/tall men.

"The bottom line is that a woman who is six feet tall has a heck of a time finding men her size. Where else can she find someone who is single, professional, in her geography, in her age range, and her height? And how long would that take her to come into contact with that? What's that worth? I think we provide a great service for the price."

Gelormine is possibly the speed-dating CEO with the most personal dating experience, which may be why he has such insightful observations about the behavior of people at these events. He says the three reasons people don't try speed dating are: ego ("I don't need the help"), a lack of self-confidence ("I don't want to go and be rejected potentially by a dozen people"), and fear of the unknown. "The quality of people who go to these events is high," he notes. "But if you don't go, you never know. That's the key. Getting them to try it."

According to Gelormine, men especially don't realize how attractive the women are. But once they show up, more than 90 percent circle yes to at least one date. And many return.

Gelormine adds that psychological issues are definitely a factor he takes into consideration: "At the event, for example, we position the tables in such a way so the man is always approaching the woman. It's just a slight little thing -- but women tend to prefer not being snuck up on."

Women, he says, also appreciate not having to come up with ways to reject men, because all they have to do is answer discreetly on the sheet, as is the case with all speed-dating events.

"The guys need tips. There are a lot more areas where men can go wrong," Gelormine concedes. "Like talking too much about themselves or talking about past relationships. I'll tell you the biggest mistake guys make: As soon as they sit down, within 20 or 30 seconds they know whether or not they're circling yes. They see how she looks, gauge her voice and how she speaks -- and they know. So what do they do? They start selling themselves. They talk all about themselves because they already know they're saying yes to her. After six minutes the guys leave, having talked all about themselves -- and the women circle no. Most guys aren't all about themselves, but at these events people tend to extrapolate small things about who you are."

The more relaxed and confident a man is, the more yes votes he'll receive, says Gelormine, who has noticed that men repeat the process more than women do. Women tend to go about three or four times and then stop, but if men come back, they return an indefinite number of times. "Men look at dating as a numbers game, and this does help you even the odds. They'll repeat because they see the potential."

So why do women stop after three or four times? Says John Warburton: "If that's his data, that makes sense. If people don't have what I am going to call, for lack of a better term, an 'aha!' experience, they'll give it up. The females are much more oriented to the emotional experience, and it's harder to have an emotional 'aha!' experience, especially in those circumstances. Whereas the men are more oriented to the physical."

In other words, if a man sees women who are attractive at these events -- and aha!, he will -- he knows it's just a matter of time before he clicks with one of them. Whereas a woman going into the event may be looking to -- aha! -- click with someone right away. If she doesn't, she may eventually stop going.

"Janet" is a Jewish acupuncturist. She's never been married, is in good shape, and is also very friendly. I can't imagine anyone having a bad conversation with her. This Jewish-only event at Blue CafC) in Sunny Isles Beach is her second; her first was a Pre-Dating event for professional singles (of no specific religion) in Fort Lauderdale.

Although Aish HaTorah developed SpeedDating with the good intentions of helping Jewish singles find their beshert (soul mate), some of the women at this event, including Janet, are willing to dismiss the idea of a beshert in exchange for a compatible companion. "It's so hard out there to go from nothing to finding something in common," she says. "Although I don't really care if the person is Jewish, it is at least a starting point. I find that a lot of people don't end up married to the love of their life. That said, there still has to be some kind of spark."

This is also the second event for "Helen." A divorced mom with her own business, Helen wants to meet a Jewish man. "My last marriage, I married somebody who was a Southern Christian," she explains. "I'm a Jew from New York. I think that was a factor in our divorce."

After her first speed-dating event, Helen did match with a Jewish gentleman she liked quite a bit. But he ended up going back to an old girlfriend, and so she's giving Pre-Dating another try. "It's just another avenue to meet people," she says. "I'm not looking to get married again, but I would like to spend some good one-on-one time. I'd like someone to go with to services on the holidays. The more compatible you are with another person, the easier it is for the relationship."

The next morning both women report they didn't have a match with any of the men they chose. Both say they'll probably try Pre-Dating one or two more times. (Making it three or four times total -- right in Gelormine's predicted range.)

Recently Gelormine helped a New York-based colleague hold a "Lock and Key" party at Oxygen Lounge in Coconut Grove. Gelormine thinks this will be the next big trend in dating events. "You'll notice a total reversal of behavior," he advises. "The women approach the men just as much as the men approach the women."

When I arrive at Oxygen for the party on a Friday evening, the front room is already almost too packed to walk through. Each man, when he registers, gets a key. Each woman is given a padlock. No one knows which key opens which lock. The object is to find out via trial and error. The crowd is different from the people at speed-dating events -- I notice this immediately. Or it's the same crowd but the people need to work to get noticed since there are no guaranteed one-on-one interactions. As I watch Deco Drive's cameraman shine his light into the room, I come up with a new question for speed-dating coordinators to put on their scorecards: "If I were a reporter, why would you be an interesting source for my piece on speed dating?"

As a reporter, I'm going to answer my own question: People who attend these events are interesting because they're willing to face rush-hour traffic, the smirks of their friends and family, and most important, their own emotional baggage in the attempt to connect intimately with one another. I think this is what all the reporters at these events are trying to say: No matter how stratified and specific our romantic tastes have become, no matter how prevalent divorce has become, and no matter how far we've driven from that 1950s American suburb, people have not given up on love, and they have not given up on the possibility that they can find it with someone they've yet to meet.

At the bar I bump into "Andrew," a guy I sat with during HurryDate. I'm the fourth woman he's recognized from another event. He's the third person I've recognized from another event. (One was a coordinator for 8minuteDating.) There are too many people in the room. Andrew is getting frustrated -- he's not meeting any women here -- and says he liked the other events better, even though they've yielded no girlfriends.

"I wore my ass pants tonight!" he yells above the din.

"What's that?"

"My ass pants! I figure, if you can't dazzle them with personality, attract them with the ass pants!"

He turns and wiggles his ass, which does look quite nice in this particular pair of pants. I congratulate him. Then we decide to split so he can try to meet more women. As I watch him nudge between bodies, I'm reminded of something my mother once suggested to me -- that all conversations between two people can be traced psychologically to this one question: "Do you love me -- yes or no?"

Speed-dating coordinators, of course, would encourage you to amend that question when attending their events: Is it at all possible that you could see yourself feeling an affinity for me in some professional, romantic, physical, or friendly context at some point in the future?

Nonetheless, at night's end, no matter where you've done your speed dating, you'll still have to answer the big question: Yes or no.


"The Single Person's Toolbox"

8minuteDating, 617-859-8866
Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach
Cost: $28.88 online, $33.88 at the door
Date length: Eight minutes
Number of dates: Eight
Types of events: Gay, lesbian, straight, African American, Jewish, Christian,
single parent, fitness-oriented (coordinators are open to requests)
Pros: If you don't get a match, your next 8minuteDating event is free
Cons: You don't speed date with every available person in the room

HurryDate, 212-871-6707
Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach
Cost: $35, register and pay only online, need e-mail address
Date length: Three minutes
Number of dates: Normally 25
Types of events: gay, lesbian, straight, African American, Jewish, Latin,
different age ranges
Pros: Lively and large group
Cons: It's called HurryDate for a reason

, 954-741-3670
Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach
Cost: $29 (register online or over the phone, not at the door)
Date length: Six minutes
Number of dates: Ten to fifteen
Types of events: Straight, varied ages, tall women/tall men, Christian, Jewish, African American, interracial
Pros: You meet with every available person in the room
Cons: The more specified your group, the more likely you are to see repeat daters after your first event

Relay Dating at Lime Bar
1771 West Ave., Miami Beach
Cost: $20 cash at the door
(RSVP by e-mail only)
Date length: Two minutes
Number of dates: Up to 39
Types of events: Gay male
Pros: 40 guys at $20
-- that's only $2 per guy
Cons: Most frenetic pace of all the speed-dating events

"Lock and Key" Parties, 954-647-9441
Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach
Cost: $15-$20
Date length: Two to three hours
Number of dates: It's a club filled with single people
Types of events: Mixer for straight
singles, ages 21 and over
Pros: You meet a lot of single people
Cons: No guaranteed one-on-one time with anyone, and it can be very crowded

-- Marli Guzzetta

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