Dating just got a lot easier

By |2017-10-31T05:27:32-04:00October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

FERNDALE – My friend Rachel (not her real name) is a young 47. She’s attractive, smart, professional, and, except for a few endearing eccentricities, relatively sane. She’s been single for a little over three years, and has been looking for that someone special. Her dating sagas, though, would make good material for a tragically funny sitcom.
There were the blind dates-from-hell, arranged by that well-meaning yet clueless friend. “What was she thinking?” she said to me after a particularly dreadful evening, not knowing whether to feel insulted that her friend would think she would be interested in someone so clearly unstable, or frightened that the pool of available dating partners was becoming so shallow.
(I learned long ago to never play matchmaker. I am terrible at it, and my few feeble attempts ended up with all parties mad at me. I quickly gave it up.)
Rachel has tried the bar scene too, but with little success. “It’s a smoky, loud, alcohol-laden dungeon. And the lighting is either too dark to see anyone, or so flashy that everyone looks like they have neurological disorders. I can’t cope,” she lamented.
But there’s hope. A new speed dating enterprise for gays and lesbians, Rainbow Express Dating, is starting up in greater Detroit next month. It promises to match up single gay men and lesbians in a comfortable setting that’s designed to be fast, efficient and to remove a lot of the angst that goes with approaching someone new.
“With speed dating, you can really get a good idea who is out there in a short period of time,” said Rainbow Express Dating’s founder Pat Fitzgerald. “The time has come in our community for something like this. It’s got a lot of benefits, and even if you don’t end up dating, you can meet a lot of new friends.”
Here’s how it works. A group of about 40 people gather in a group that is defined by gender and age range. Everyone gets a number (ie: 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, etc.) and every table in the room has a number. Each person starts out at the table with their number, and then they spend three minutes meeting the person who has their corresponding number (1A and 1B, and so forth). Then everyone rotates, and spends three minutes with the next person, and so on until everyone has had a three minute session with everyone else in the room.
Each person has a simple score sheet, on which they write down whether they would like further contact with each person they’ve met. After the event, which usually runs about two hours, the score sheets are tallied. If any two people indicate they are interested in each other, that’s a match. Within 48 hours they will receive each other’s contact information, and it’s up to them after that.
Fitzgerald, who has a background in social work and owned her own restaurant for four years, feels she’s uniquely qualified to manage speed dating.
“When I owned my restaurant, I really enjoyed the people. I’d often see people on their first dates, and then see them again when they’d come back. I loved that,” she said.
Fitzgerald explained that speed dating has been around about seven years. “It was started by a rabbi in Chicago,” said Fitzgerald. “It really got a lot of attention about two years ago when ‘Sex In the City’ did a skit on it,” referring to the popular HBO series. “It works because looking for someone to date is so time consuming otherwise. With speed dating you get to meet a lot of people in the same amount of time you would spend with one person on a blind date.”
Which was welcome news for Rachel. When I explained speed dating to her, she quickly signed up for one of Rainbow Express Dating’s first events in August, one billed for lesbians 35 to 50 years old. “I’ll give it a try,” she said.

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