With every convenience innovation, there will always be a counter revolution not far behind. The old fashioned ways are inevitably superseded by advances in technology and subtle societal shifts, but there still remains nostalgia for the qualities and processes of old. The fast food revolution of the nineties has given way to the slow food movement of the noughties and is the best example. People wanted fast and convenient food at a price that wouldn’t break the bank, but in an inevitable race to the bottom, quality declined. The high street became filled with chains of fast food ‘restaurants’, all offering the same thing, quantity over quality. The soul within food and the depth of enjoyment around eating was lost as it ceased to become an event and turned into more of a ‘quick fix’. All was not lost however as 12-hr slow cooked pulled pork, sourdough pizza and craft beer all had a huge resurgence. Now it is the turn of dating.
As a man who has recently become single, and hasn’t dated since before iPads existed and Eyjafjallajoekull erupted, the dating world has become unrecognisable. Last time I was paying any attention, speed dating was naff, apps were non-existent and online dating a big taboo. Speed dating is still considered naff by many, but online dating and apps are much more common if not the market leader. It is almost inevitable that if you ask a group of couples “How did you meet?” many will say almost sheepishly “Through an app”.
Dating through apps works for many people as they are quick, inexpensive (if not free) and easy. But quick and easy isn’t always nearly as much fun or ultimately as rewarding. Going on a series of one-on-one dates with relative strangers can leave some feeling pressurised or stuck in a routine of meeting unsuitable people on a weekly basis. Single people in their thirties are now clamouring for something different, something to bring the heart and soul back into dating. Step in ‘My Friend Charlie’, the dating equivalent of 24hr slow-cooked lamb burger in an artisanal sourdough bap with smoked garlic aioli.
‘Charlie’ is in fact a real person, with a passion for getting people together and making the introductions. Every few weeks she runs an evening event for singletons with the aim of taking the swiping off-line. Groups of 10 to 30 people get to mingle whilst taking part in a series of interesting events such as; ‘Meat and Meet’ (cured meats and gin tasting); ‘Cycling & Graffiti’ (the legal kind); and specially for the Halloween season ‘Zombie Room Escape’. All the events are followed up with an inevitable trip to the nearest pub or bar to continue the evening.
Charlie acts as a mutual acquaintance to everyone and glides around seamlessly and tactfully managing the whole event. The events themselves remove the requirement for any of the traditionally awkward small talk. There is no pressure to talk to anyone in particular, but if someone has caught your eye, have a quiet word with Charlie and she’ll introduce you. If you do happen to meet someone you like during the night, but don’t manage to pluck up the courage to ask for their number, send Charlie a message and she’ll see if the feeling is mutual. It’s just like it used to be, but this time giving fate a bit of a helping hand.
It’s free to sign up and you only pay for the events you go to. Charlie is currently running events at an introductory price of around £30 each. Do you ever wish you had a friend who knew some single people? Now you do. When people ask how you met, you can now say “Oh, My Friend Charlie”.