By Jewelle Trotman and Brinley Knopf
Ten minutes to the Big Event, there’s milling and loitering; holding court, eating Insomnia Cookies, sushi and chicken meatballs.
Am I Carrie Bradshaw Yet?
We’re at FIT’s Public Relations Student Society of America speed-dating event, “traditional, between males and females,” Kelly McLoughlin, PR Committee Lead of PRSSA, related to me. “The girls move from table to table to different boys for 90 second intervals. Short and sweet.”
“And for FIT’s “80-90% female campus,” she added, “Match Made on Seventh creates a way for female students to meet other male college students [in] an important social experience; it’s also a FIT community creator, [in that] it’s an entertaining and high energy social event which our campus often lack[s].”
“The event began eight years ago,” Nicole Armeno, President of PRSSA, told me. The club, “a professional society for public relations,” pulls the whole event together in three teams: sponsorship, tickets and PR/Social.
The turnout was good; an equal balance of boys to girls. PRSSA had projected over 50 boy and 50 girl attendants from pre-ticket sales, not including day-of participants paying at the door. There was a 90’s theme to go with those 90-second intervals; with Britney and the Backstreet Boys bopping, you could take your picture with Zac Efron’s sponsored Baywatch (2017) poster, snack on Sigmund’s Pretzels and NY Seltzer, head over to the raffle table to win Dry Bar, NY Food Tour and Kate Spade Giveaways, or get a henna tattoo from henna artist, Hannah B. Haber.
Henna by Hannah Beth
There were three tables; long, like for a gala or buffet. When one thinks of speed-dating, one might have a romanticized reverie about meet-cutes or witty banter held in a booth, ‘far from the madding crowd.’ But as we sat at those long tables and all-but yelled our names, our colleges, our majors — were there magic moments to be had? No. Did anyone give me their letterman jacket? Also no. Did anyone propose marriage? Yes, but I had to say no. We’d only just met.
I’d thought, as an introvert of prolific proportions, the socialization alone would be unsparing for me. But, I was told, from the mouth of someone from NYU – or maybe Baruch – these words of wisdom: “Don’t take this too seriously.” And from then I was absolved, no longer there to find the person I’d marry. No longer was I there to find a single man of good fortune in want of a wife.
In all seriousness, the stigma of “speed-dating” was shattered. I think many of us would agree, in both present-time and retrospect, that the event and format was great for making friends. Easy, no-sweat conversations about favorite artists or Netflix binge-shows are how friendships are formed, after all. “[New York City] is a difficult place to meet someone and this creates a safe and approachable way to do so,” McLoughlin relayed to me. “We saw NYC as a space where it’s really hard to meet people and wanted to address that gap,” added Armeno, on why someone would be interested in the speed-dating event, summing everything up succinctly.
Just for kicks, here are the top quotes of the night, from faces I cannot name, as each encounter has all amassed and amalgamated; but words of which I cannot shake.
“Hi, my name is -”
– “Did I ask?”
“So what do you do?”
– “I’m a stripper.”
“Columbia isn’t what you think. It’s not hard to get in.”
– “Are you kidding?”
“I’ve never been surfing.”
– “Are you kidding?”
“No. I’ve been boogie boarding – is that still a thing?”
– “I don’t know. I do like to boogie, though.”
“I’m losing my speed-dating virginity tonight.”
– “Are you? That makes two of us.”
“Are you sure? You seem like a veteran.”
“So what do you want to get out of this?”
– “My girlfriend doesn’t know I’m here.”
Before There Was Tinder
Is two minutes really enough time to get to know someone?
Speed dating is an experience, it’s fast and fun. In the age of modern matchmaking, people are used to fast-paced encounters. Unlike Tinder, there is no online chatting, just face-to-face, quick conversation.
FIT’s PRSSA hosted its very own speed dating event called “Match Made on Seventh.” The theme was supposed to be reminiscent of the 90’s. To compliment the theme, there was a 90’s inspired backdrop for photos and props on the tables. There was food such as meatballs, cookies, sushi rolls, and pretzels. Many participants also helped themselves to the complimentary coconut and regular water as well as iced tea. People were also able to join in on the raffle — one prize was a food tour! There was even a table to get a henna tattoo.
The turnout was good; the majority of tables were filled. To aid with the process, there were printed questions on the table as well as pens and paper for writing down phone numbers. There was an equal ratio of guys and gals. For the ladies of FIT, this was an attractive event. There aren’t a lot of guys at school who like women; regardless of the few who do, it is still nice to meet new people.
During the event, everyone was talking at the same time, making it hard to hear. When you’ve got two minutes, what do you say? A popular question overheard was, “Where do you go to school?” or “What’s your major?” While those questions were good, answering them often took up the full two minutes. Then the girl often moved on to the next guy without really having gotten to know the one before.
I found, to get around that, that the best way to get to know someone in a fast way was to ask about their interests. Someone’s major tells a bit about them, but their favorite TV show or genre of music says a lot more. And while it’s considered taboo to talk about politics on the first “date”, if one really wants to get down to the nitty gritty in two minutes, ask about who the person voted for in the past presidential election — I did!
For me, this was a good experience. I love meeting new people and I met some cool guys. I wore a jacket that was decorated with a ton of pins which served as a great conversation starter. Initial attraction is good, but common interests and getting a feel for someone’s personality determined if I wanted something to last more than two minutes.
Depending on who someone voted for in the presidential election is a deal breaker for me, so knowing that early on is vital. By asking about one guy’s music interests, I found out that he loves Freddie Mercury as much as I do! One person reinforced my desire to visit Amsterdam after he talked about his experience. I spoke about my love for food and one guy wrote down something for me to try. After the event was over, I went up to a guy whose table I didn’t get to. In order to get the conversation going, I complimented his jacket. He talked about how he was an aspiring rapper and liked to dance. “Black and White” played and I asked him to show me some of his moves, and he did. When I asked what he did for fun he mentioned that he liked to read the Bible. So that was interesting. I didn’t give out my phone number to anyone, now that I think about it, there was this one guy I probably should have…
Regardless, I enjoyed my time and I would attend another event.
The stigma of speed dating must be addressed: attending an event does not mean one has reached the peak of desperation! As previously stated, it is a fun way to meet new people. Going into it with low expectations makes for a better outcome. Just like with Tinder and dating in general, just have fun and see where it goes! Consider attending a speed dating event in the future to break away from typical dating!