Single in the City

Features - December 2nd, 2005
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Speed Dating — A New and Successful Event from Being A Broad

by Emily Downey 

Speed dating actually originated in Los Angeles seven years ago as a platform for Jewish people to meet their love matches. It rapidly became a popular way to find a partner, and the idea spread across the rest of the world and is now especially popular in London.

These days, the conditions may vary, but originally equal numbers of men and women spent an average of five minutes speaking with each other to decide if they would like to meet again for a real date. It means that as a participant, you have the opportunity to meet anywhere from 10 to 30 members of the opposite sex in a few short hours.

Being A Broad (BAB), the Tokyo-based foreign women’s support organization saw the need for a safe and fun way for its members to meet poten­tial dates. Laura Coulter, the main organizer, says that “organizing and running a speed dating event is the per­fect way to meet people in a city where time is always short.” This event is not the first of its kind in the foreign community in Japan, or indeed the Japanese community but it is the only one to cater for for­eign women living and working in Tokyo. There are a plethora of other events whose main audi­ence is Japanese women and foreign men, but BAB saw a shortage of singles events for foreign women.

Although BAB de­signed the event with foreign women in mind, it is open to both foreign and Japanese men and women alike. The four successful speed dating parties to date have had an almost equal mix of each group.

It is not all about dating either, most of the partici­pants come to meet potential friends as well as dates. Some of them are new to Tokyo and spend time after the event talking to each other. It is not uncommon to see women talking to women and men to men as well as the exchange of business cards.

So for those who have yet to attend, but are curious, the typical event goes as follows. All the participants meet and briefly mingle on a Sunday afternoon at the Maple Leaf Pub in Shibuya. Laura, the fabulous and friendly organizer, greets each participant and hands him or her a complimentary drink and an I.D. stick­er (just a number or letter for confidentiality). Once everyone arrives, the event starts with Laura seating a man opposite a woman. On each table is a sheet of paper where each participant writes the I.D. number of the mini date and circles a simple yes or no, signal­ing if they would like to meet that person again. A small bell sounds after five minutes indicating that it is time to grab a quick drink and move on to the next mini-date. And so the process repeats itself for the rest of the night until everybody has met everyone else!

Despite the nervous or unsure looks at the begin­ning, the end of the night just looks like one big group of old friends and magically anxious looks have trans­formed into wide smiles.

Shortly after the par­ty, Laura checks all the matches and forwards the corresponding email addresses to each lucky participant. Confidential­ity is assured, as BAB does not disclose full names, addresses or any other identifying information. All contact is made via the email address specified by the participant at the time of registration, and only matches where both people want to meet again are given this information. Laura says that there have been matches at every event and that the overwhelming majority get at least one match.

For more information about future speed dating and other BAB events, please see www.being-a-broad.com and sign up to the free mailing list or email Emi­ly at info@being-a-broad.com. The event includes a drink and costs ¥4,000 per person, and you can bring a friend of the opposite sex for free.