The List – A new take on speed dating

Posted on May 28, 2013 by The Quest

You must know the feeling. You go through your drawers and find an old favourite shirt you’ve forgotten about. You think: “Gosh, I wondered where this had gone. I thought I’d lost it.” When you put it on and look in the mirror, it still fits like a dream and looks smashing.

That’s how I felt when I recently landed back on the ‘dating scene’ — pleasantly curious and ready to strut my stuff. With 40 around the corner and because I’m wary of repeating old patterns, I was a bit apprehensive too despite my enthusiasm.

Nowadays, gay men are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to how we can connect with other guys. The obvious and easy choices are online dating sites and smartphone apps. I’ve tried both and I know they offer loads to look at and hold the alluring promise of immediate gratification, but they’re also time-consuming. I mean really, how many frogs can one man kiss?

Besides, this time I’m clear about my intentions: I want to socialise and meet guys face-to-face and I don’t want to spend hours staring at my computer or iPhone’s screen. I’m not hung up on anything too serious, which doesn’t mean I just want sex. Instead, when I fancy a guy and the feeling is mutual, I want to go on a few dates and see where it goes… You know? A first, second and third base kinda thing.

So, with Gaydar and Grindr on the backburner, what are my options? A secret glance on the bus, a wink on the train, a bit of bench press spotting at the gym, a carefully choreographed bump into a hunk at a coffee shop or cracking up a conversation with a guy in a kebab shop who may or may not be batting for my team… The possibilities are endless. However, at this rate, I’m afraid to say, I’m leaving a bit too much in the hands of my charming stepsisters, Miracle and Chance.

AYOTLjpgJust as I thought I stacked the odds too high, a friend recommended a new society for gay professionals in London, called The List. Of course, the idea of holding social and professional networking events for gay men is nothing new. However, getting involved with a group like The List is something I honestly didn’t consider as an option for expanding my group of friends, let alone finding potential dating partners.

After checking out their website and reading about their core values, I booked a ticket for their Date Night. I’ve tried speed dating once before, many moons ago, and at the time it didn’t really work for me. However, since The List promises a unique experience to all their guests at their events, I’m eager to investigate… You never know your luck in a big city.

Come Monday evening, I meet up with the rest of the crowd at McQueens in Shoreditch. The venue is elegant and certainly different from your usual Soho bar. Unlike my previous speed dating experience, I instantly feel welcomed by James, our host. The atmosphere is friendly and inviting, and the guys are already socialising at the bar where Champaign and canapés are served. Great stuff.

Before we get started, James explains how things will work. He also gives a few tips on how we can make the most of our evening. There are 25 of us and I’m a bit sceptical. However, The List is the only speed dating organiser that ensures everyone gets a chance to meet all the guys who are attending the event. So with that in mind, I prepare myself to answer a whole lot of the same questions: What’s your name? Where do you work? What do you do in your free time? Where are you from? How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?…Times 25!

The ListWe have three minutes with each ‘date’ before we move on to the next one. Since my aim is to simply meet new people, I decide to just go for it without following any set of rules or working from a specific list of questions. My game plan is: Be organic. Be yourself.

With some of the ‘dates’, three minutes were just not enough, which is why you need to make a quick note of their names and write down at least one defining characteristic to remember who tickled your fancy. Of course, it’s not possible for everyone to like everybody, but nonetheless the guys were all polite and very sociable.

The best thing about this speed dating event was that you are your own matchmaker and you get your results at the end of the evening. Unlike my previous experience, I didn’t feel that there was any ‘scorecard rating’ going on. When we left, we each received a little envelope containing the names of the guys who’d like to take things further — either as friends or going on a date. For me, that’s great. No expectations were created other  than having the ball in your court, and I certainly felt positive and empowered by the end of the evening.

The List really do seem to offer something different and I recommend you check out their website. They don’t just focus on date nights, but also have upcoming networking events and will be actively involved at the London Pride.

The Quest will be attending the London Pride Networking Reception & Volunteering Fair organised by The List. The fair is held in support of the London LGBT+ Community Pride and other gay charities in London. It takes place on 26 June 2013 and is a free event, but please make sure you register for the guest list so that they can keep tabs on the number of people attending. Please support this event by registering here.

Francois Lubbe
Editor & Curator
Love Me As I Am – gay men reflect on their lives

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