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.
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.
The key to finding the love of your life
may just be a night away. Welcome to Lock
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 service@LockandKeyEvents.com
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
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 www.lockandkeyevents.com.
p.m. Friday, Red Ox Tavern, 45411 Park Ave., Utica, 586.726.7070.
$25 with RSVP; $30 at the door.
Orlando can be a good place to look for love. Just be sure to
leave room for it to find you.
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 Forbes.com
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
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 Forbes.com 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.
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.
latest face-to-face dating service fad to turn up in
Orlando: Lock and Key Events (lockandkeyevents.com).
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
"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:
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.
FULL ARTICLE @ WOMAN’S WORLD MAGAZINE:
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
"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
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 lockandkeyevents.com
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
Game Changed Dating rules may be different
but object same
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.
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
Plentyoffish.com and Match.com.
“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 Match.com.
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, Match.com 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 Match.com.
A pioneer in the online
dating industry, Match.com 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
“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. Match.com 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 Match.com 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.
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,”
and Key ( www.lockandkeyevents.com
) 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.
( www.pre-dating.com ), 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
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.”
the Web sites for scheduled events, which are held once a quarter for
the 50 and older age group.
Singles in the capital have
plenty of chances to meet By Amanda Nalley – DEMOCRAT
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.
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."
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
Singles enjoy the scene at Clydes
(Elliott McCaskill/For the Democrat)
Key Party for 30 plus
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.
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 Meetup.com 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
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
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
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.
Illustration by Kyzandrha Zarate and Jason
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. Match.com and
eHarmony.com are among the most popular national dating Web sites.
Some popular local dating sites include Jacksonvillesingles.com,
JaxSingles.com and Jacksonvillesingles.org.
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 Lockandkeyevents.com
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 RomanticSpeedDate.com. There is also ItsJustLunch
Jacksonville.com, 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.
And Key party at Lana Lounge 5/15/2009 hoboken411
This “Lock and
Key” event is being touted as “THE Interactive Social Event
You’ve Been Hearing About!”
Is that true? Have you
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!
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 CNN.com, NBC daytime TV show "Starting Over", and in
Essence Magazine-February 2007 Issue.
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: www.LockAndKeyEVENTS.com/NNJ or NNJ@LockAndKeyEVENTS.com or
call Liz at 973-207-7312.
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
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
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.
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
“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,
“He was the key to my lock,”
explains Helen, grinning up at Alan as she shows off their intertwined
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
“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
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
“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
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
“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
“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 Friendster.com 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
“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.
Stupid! Singles say, Valentine’s Day is no big deal
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.
Dawn Fortune, it’s a time to reflect,
perhaps with slight melancholy, about
why she is still single and the
eventual possibility of love.
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."
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.
it seems as though many are going to
let the Saturday night pass with an
unceremonious shrug of the shoulders.
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.
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
Corelli of Hightstown (from left) and her friend
Shannon Tilghman of Hamilton chat as they attend a
singles event by LockandKeyEvents.com
held at Taylor’s in Cherry Hill.
CHRIS LaCHALL Courier-Post
Barnett of Ocean City (from left) and Michelle Mayza
of Woodbury attend a singles event by
LockandKeyEvents.com held at Taylor’s in Cherry
I also think it’s kind of a chick
thing. Believe me, I’ve got more than
enough to keep me busy."
are little less nonchalant. Fortune,
who hosts a regular South Jersey
singles group through Meet Up.com,
said she can’t help but confront some
of the introspection that goes hand in
hand with being single on Valentine’s
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?"
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
the flip side, approximately one in
four Americans said they didn’t
celebrate the holiday at all in 2007.
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
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.
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
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."
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.
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."
what about the approaching V-Day?
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
presented by www.lockandkeyevents.com.
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.
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 www.lockandkeyevents.com/tpa
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.
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.
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.
— 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.
At lock and key parties
women wear small padlocks and men wear keys around their necks, with
the goal being to find your match.
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
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.
original and syndicated lifestyle content to Web publishers. Jocelyn
Voo is a freelance journalist and relationships editor at the New York
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
Lock and Key parties – already popular in New York and Miami –
have made their way to the Twin Cities. Next month, Miami-based
www.lockandkeyevents.com 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.
"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
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
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
"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
Nancy Ngo can be reached at
and Key party for singles in their 20s to 40s
When: May 19 , 7-9:30 p.m.
Where: Trocaderos Nightclub, 107 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis
Tickets: $20, includes one drink and appetizers
or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
28 at Shark Club,
841 Baker St., Costa Mesa,
$27 at the door with RSVP;
$30 at the door without RSVP.
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.
unlocked truth on what happened:
like Sunday morning
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.
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.
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…"
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
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.
woman or man is definitely nerve-racking but this event proved
an easy way to socialize with a lot of interesting people at
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.
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).
those keys in your pocket?
Schoeffler: Our group hit the scene at about 7
p.m. The crowd was sparse.
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
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.
keys in your pocket?" she asked.
" …………….yeah," I replied.
My totals for the
– 2 locks opened.
– 4 drinks purchased for a few select lovely ladies.
– 1 follow-up call made to a woman almost twice my age.
lock and key virginity
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
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.
"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,"
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
My totals for the
– 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.
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.
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.
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.
(www.cupid.com) 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.
“Cupid.com 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 Cupid.com. For more
information, or to sign up, visit www.cupid.com/predating 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
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 www.jccatlantic.org
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 email@example.com
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
www.lockandkeyevents.com. 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 (www.itsjustlunch.com) 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.
(www.eharmony.com) 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 (www.match.com)
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,
Match.com 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. Match.com 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 (www.meetme.hotornot.com)
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
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
Beth Joseph is Assistant Editor of Casino Connection
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…
1. Get five friends to hook a sister up.
“Put out a dating SOS to your girls, telling them you’d like to be
set up,” says Julie Taylor, coauthor of How to Be a Dominant Diva (Avalon Press).
Why it works: Since the root of each setup will be a trusted
friend, chances are you’ll at least have a good time – or even five
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 lockandkeyevents.com.
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 (vixentales.blogspot.com).
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
Why it works: He just might accept! Need we say more?
4. Make it easy for him to approach
“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
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, MoxieintheCity.net 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.
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 hurrydate.com, 8minutedating.com or pre-dating.com.
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
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).
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.
Who / What: Rise
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 lavalife.com
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 LockAndKeyEvents.com,
which organizes most of the hook-up benders, acquired the upstart
company earlier this year after buying it from his former bosses at Cupid.com/Predating,
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
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 www.lockandkeyevents.com
or call 720-364-7588.
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 Lockandkeyevents.com/SFL),
$22 in advance or $35 at the door.
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
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
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
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.
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 www.lockandkeyevents.com.
Date/Time: Sat., June 17
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
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 Cupid.com 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
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
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 Cupid.com 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 https://www.lockandkeyevents.com/hpa.
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.
Lock and Key Events,
Cupid.com/PreDating, 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
Cost $30 cash at the
door. However, prepaid discounts and reservations are required online at
Do you have a map? ‘Cause I just keep getting lost in your
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 Cupid.com, and each
woman gets one free background check at Safedate.com.
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
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.
of Love Lyssa
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."
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. lockandkeyevents.com. Oxygen
Lounge 2911 Grand Ave, Coconut Grove 305-476-0202.
and Shane – Married on Dec. 3, 2005
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
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.
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
knows…you might be getting a wedding
invitation later this year…
Phil: Bringing Us Together So He Can Tear Us Apart
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
Views expressed in the Defamer
and LA Confidential blogs regarding the Dr. Phil Show
party are not shared by LockAndKeyEvents.com. We present access to
entries as additional media coverage of our unique icebreaker parties and events.
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 LockAndKeyPart-ies.com 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
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
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
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
"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."
Got a Minute?
There is always a time for romance — but with speed
dating that would be a limited time
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.
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
The tables are numbered
and set with two votive candles. At each seat, an 8minuteDating.com
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
By Charles Flowers
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
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
By Jen Karetnick
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
"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
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
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
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
"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
– 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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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
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!")
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
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
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.
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
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
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
"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."
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
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 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.
"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
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
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
Pros: Lively and large group
Cons: It’s called HurryDate for a reason
Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach
Cost: $29 (register online or over the phone, not at the
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
Dating at Lime Bar
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
and Key" Parties www.lockandkeyparties.com,
Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach
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