Ever seen Sci-Fi Speed Dating offered at a Con? Well, I went and I'm sharing my experience with you.
As someone who has seen Sci-Fi Speed Dating offered at various Comic Expos and Cons, from the Upcoming New York Comic Con, to the 2012 Star Wars Celebration, I’ve always wanted to participate simply to see what it would be like. I have been speed dating before, in the more typical bar setup, and it was kind of fun. Granted, as a writer and photographer, I pretty much talk to strangers for a hobby, so my idea of fun may be a bit different than the general con-goers. Still, I always thought it would be interesting, at the very least. Speed dating could only be more exciting with a room full of people who share some of the same interests with me, right? So I’ve kept my eyes open for a chance to participate. My chance finally came last weekend at the Third Annual Cincinnati Comic Expo.
Sci-Fi Speed dating is run by creator Ryan Glitch, who travels around the country setting up the events and hoping to help fellow geeks find love. Glitch commented, “So far we’ve had a lot of success with hundreds of couples writing to me afterward, informing me that they met their current partner at one of our events. There have been marriages and, even recently, our first baby. That’s right; we’re helping to breed the next generation of geeks.” With such high praises being sung for their track record and the popularity, including a feature on the TLC special Geek Love, it really speaks highly, going into the event, of Glitch’s dedication, not only to make the event itself a success, but to make it a good experience, overall, for everyone.
Prior to the actual event, I signed up online, because it’s free for anyone who registers ahead of time. If you show up the day of, hoping that someone else backed out, procrastinated, or whatever, it’s $5. Which, in the grand scheme of what people were paying for merchandise at the event, is small potatoes. However, the sign up process is easy and the event started on time. I happened to bring a friend along so that he could give me some feedback, from the male point of view, on the experience as a whole.
Overall, the check-in process went smoothly, and the ladies were gathered together inside the venue for a short briefing and were directed on where to sit. The ladies would keep their same spot throughout the process and the gentlemen were to rotate every three minutes once they were let in. Everyone was given an index card to write down who they liked and the men were told to find pick a seat to start at. Each person had a number rather than a name, and everyone was instructed to keep things anonymous, i.e. no names, specific places of work or where you live any less general than a city (since people travel pretty far for these kinds of events).
While waiting for people to show up I talked to some of the other women, and everyone’s levels of nervousness varied. There was one woman who was so nervous that she didn’t even know what questions to ask. I helped her out with a few questions and reminded her that it’s only three minutes and would go faster than she would think. One thing that I found out later from my male counterpart for the event is that he didn’t care for the men having to wait outside while the ladies waited inside because time seemed to pass very slowly and he felt a bit like a second class citizen. However, given the limitations of the venue, it was the best option to keep things organized.
Once the event actually started, things went very quickly, and people’s personalities became very apparent right away. Some people barely spoke up, and I couldn’t hear them over the other 15 conversations that were happening. At the other end of the spectrum, some of the men didn’t stop talking about whatever they were excited to see at the Expo. There was even one guy who clearly practiced and got what he thought was every important fact about himself down to almost a minute and thirty seconds exactly. It was kind of impressive and really spoke to the fact that he was excited to be there and thought about the event ahead of time.
When everyone had made it back to where they started, the men gathered on the opposite side of the room. On two separate tables, one for the men and one for the women, there were pieces of paper with each participant’s badge number on it. We were then instructed to write our first name, e-mail or phone number on the piece of paper designated for the person they were interested in. When everyone was done, the participants were handed their individual sheets and told that it’s up to them to contact or don’t contact the people on their list at their discretion. Glitch also added some simple dating advice; if they did decide to meet, that it should happen in a public place and someone’s hotel lobby does not count as a ‘public place’.
I particularly liked the style for the distribution of the information. In my other speed dating experience we were e-mailed interested parties contact information about a week later. This way was more immediate, and this way, if they were interested, they could meet up the next day at the event or even hang out the same day. As an added bonus for nosy people like me, I could see how many people were interested in the guys by just glancing at the papers and remembering which person corresponded to the numbers.
Against directions I took notes on every participant. That way, I could know who was interested in me even if I wasn’t interested in them. This also became handy later, when I saw the girl who was really nervous (mentioned above) and asked her how it went. She said that she only wrote down two people’s numbers and didn’t take notes. She had no idea who a couple of the interested people were. Naturally, I referred to my notes and she was quite excited by one of them. Her reaction gave me a glimpse into what it must feel like when Glitch hears about another couple that happened as a result of his events.
Overall the experience was positive. I felt like the organizers were really competent, the event itself flowed smoothly and the immediate results at the end was a better option than waiting for an e-mail. The biggest concern that I heard from participants and people I talked to prior to the event, was whether the people participating would be too weird to make a connection with. The women and men participating were just normal people who have very specific interests. I had fun talking to everyone and meeting new people. Did I make an immediate love connection? No, but I definitely made a couple of new friends. For me, that’s always a success. However, my counterpart already has a date set up for this coming weekend. Here’s hoping that Glitch can chalk another one up to him playing Cupid.
Cincinnati Comic Expo: http://cincinnaticomicexpo.com/index.php
Sci-Fi Speed Dating's Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/SciFiSpeedDating
Photos from the Cincinnati Comic Expo: http://imgur.com/a/rfQoN/embed