Remember when I went speeding dating by playing Cards Against Humanity? How could you forget, especially when the wildest thing EVER happened to me after? Well, I thought to cleanse myself after that, ahem, unique experience, I should try out traditional speed dating. Before I go on, I should disclose that this event was gifted, because apparently you can get fined if you don’t. All opinions are, as always, my own, honest and genuine.
You may also be thinking… Ella, you didn’t count your first speed dating event as a date, why are you doing it now? Well, impatient reader, if you carry on reading, you may just find out why.
This was my second event with Original Dating, so I kind of already knew the drill in terms of how it worked, however this was my first time doing the 4-minute speed dating. I wasn’t as nervous as I was at the first event I went to, however I was apprehensive about burning out. I was essentially going to making small talk with upwards of 15 strangers – and as a tried and tested introvert, this could be quite the challenge.
This event was in the basement of a bar in Clapham, and luckily, I didn’t have to worry about burning out. In fact, it was even fun a lot of the time! It’s hard to compare this traditional speed dating to the CAD one, as both have pros and cons. For example, at the CAD event, you’re in a group of six and you all have 20 minutes together, which I feel took the pressure off a bit and mostly just felt like you were at a party making new friends. However, the more traditional speed dating was a good way of meeting lots of people all at once, which is very efficient. Inevitably, I did come across a few awkward folks, but the beauty of speed dating means that I didn’t have to endure the awkwardness for very long.
We had a break halfway through the evening, and when we started back up, that’s when I met T.
I can’t remember exactly what we initially started talking about (hey, I met a lot of people that night, some of the conversations start to blur), but it came up that I found small talk difficult.
“Right, big talk only,” T nodded, “noted.”
I slammed my hand down dramatically on the table, “Aliens! The meaning of life! Death!” which made him laugh. In fact, he was the first person I properly laughed with out of all the speed dates that evening. We got into a discussion about introverts vs. extroverts, and very briefly delved into Myres-Briggs. After the music dropped out and the buzzer sounded to indicate for the guys to move on, I wrote a big ‘YES’ next to his name on my sheet.
When the event ended, the host encouraged us to stay at the bar for a drink if we could, as often it’s after the events where ‘the real fun starts.’ I was keen to stay on; when I went to the first speed dating, it was when I was still living in Surrey, so had to rush back for the train so that I didn’t get home too late. But now that I had recently moved and could take an easy bus (or the Overground! Or an Uber!) home, I was determined to make the most of the night.
A good few people stayed on afterwards, including T. I noticed him at the bar chatting to someone, the girl I was sat next to during the speed dates, in fact. She was really nice and brought a friend with her; the three of us had a good debrief during the breaks to discuss our thoughts. Anyway, T was with one of the girls at the bar, and I thought I would leave him to it for a little while, and joined the larger group of people. Everyone there was really nice, and it all felt a little more relaxed now that we didn’t have time constraints.
The larger group started to split off into smaller ones, and that’s when I noticed T and the girl sit down on one of the tables with a few other people across from where I was sitting. He and this girl seemed to be getting on well, but I didn’t want to miss my chance in getting to know him a bit more. I was sat with the friend of the girl he was chatting to, and she encouraged me to go sit next to him (as there was a seat free) and just have a friendly chat. We had all just met, after all, so it’s not like I owed anyone anything in terms of ‘backing off’.
I made my move, “Do you guys mind if I sit here and join the conversation?” and I was happily welcomed in.
The group started splitting off again, which meant I had T all to myself. We chatted about TV (particularly, Killing Eve and Fleabag) and all of the classic rom-coms he needed to watch (specifically You’ve Got Mail), and I was glad to have inserted myself in the conversation earlier so that I could get to know him a bit more. He was funny! And he had a Hugh Grant-esque charm that reminded me of my dates with E.
It turned out that we lived quite near to one another, so when we decided it was time to go, we made our way to the Overground. I was happy to get this extended time with him, and for a minute, I was even feeling a bit smug because in some ways I felt like I had ‘won’ over the other girl. That is, until I quickly realised this was not a competition and I should stop pitting myself against other women (internalised misogyny is something that I, and many others, have to CONSTANTLY unlearn).
On the Overground, our chat turned to dating apps, where we read each other our Bumble profiles and compared notes on pictures, and recounted disastrous messages. Then, as a welcome surprise, our conversation turned to race and unconscious bias, like how black women and asian men are more likely to be swiped left.
This then lead me to a slightly different tangent, because it reminded me about John Cleese subtweeting one of my favourite comedians, Nicole Byer, because Netflix had rejected his idea for a special, yet they let her have a special where she could talk about being so fat that she couldn’t find her own pussy. Cleese kept calling her ‘jolly’ (passive aggressive way to call someone fat) and even deep-dived into Nicole’s Instagram and reprimanding her for taking so many bikini photos. It was a ride. And, again, I’m not sure how exactly it related to T and I’s initial conversation about unconscious bias, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless.
And he seemed to think so, too, and he even asked for my number.
“I’m a bit skeptical of the online matching system,” T said, as I happily obliged in putting my digits into his phone. Whether or not he was actually skeptical of Original Dating’s online messaging platform (it’s worked for me in the past), I was happy that he asked for my number straight up.
When we got to our stop, we lingered outside of the station chatting a bit longer before going our separate ways. Then we fell into a silence – not an awkward silence, I knew exactly what was going to happen.
T leaned over to kiss me, and we snogged outside the station for a few minutes before parting ways, and I practically skipped home.
That is why I’m counting this whole night as a date, because of 1) the time we spent together after the speed dating event and 2) the kiss at the end of the night. I think this is enough to qualify this as a first date – and anyway, I make the rules in this thing!
Stay tuned to find out if we saw each other again… (spoiler, we did).