Ten dates in one night is all right 

I rushed up the stairs to the second floor of Uli’s Flipside to see men and women seated in pairs. Smiling, laughing and engaging in civilized conversation.

I was given a nametag, number and an appropriately titled "score card" to rate each date before I joined the rotation.

Every five minutes the men in the room would move to the next table to make a new female acquaintance. Like square dancing, only with words instead of foot movements.

Welcome to speed dating, Whistler style.

"There was just a roar of conversation the whole time," said Matchmaker Tim Allix. He was pleased with the turnout despite his original concerns there wouldn’t be enough members of a particular gender to participate.

"When I first tried to organise it, there were a lot of expressions of interest from the men but there was a shortage of women, so I decided to make the evening free for women for the month of July," Allix said.

It was $40 for men to attend with appetisers and two drinks included, while the women were welcomed in for free.

This resulted in an influx of interested women and a shortage of men, not something the men of Whistler typically complain about.

Whether it was the complimentary snacks and beverages that drew them in, I don’t know, but I observed a room full of attractive and well-presented women who appeared to be enjoying themselves.

"I had to recruit three men on the night to make up the numbers," said Allix.

People aged 22 to 55 exchanged details of their hobbies, lifestyles and passions. Allix said there were not enough participants to match people in age categories, so all ages interacted together.

However in my opinion, conversing with people of all ages made things more diverse and interesting.

Those who attended were there for different reasons. One date had just arrived in town and was interested in meeting some local people to hang out with. Another new acquaintance worked on the weekends and found it difficult to meet new people mid-week, as he didn’t like going to the bars. A girl I spoke to later on in the evening told me she wanted to broaden her social circle.

This was a relaxed, safe environment to do just that.

"Even if you don’t get along with a person, it’s not difficult to talk for five minutes and then move on to the next person," said Allix, who started the speed dating service after an Internet date with a woman who wanted to start a speed dating service in Vancouver. Allix lost touch with the woman but decided to start a speed dating service himself.

After everyone in the room had met score cards were handed in and, over appetisers, there was a chance to talk some more, while Allix worked out which couples made a match. There were six matches in the evening.

The experience I gained from speed dating was that you didn’t necessarily have to find Mr. or Miss Right to have a good time; it was an opportunity to meet and talk to different people.

"There’s always the possibility of a friendship arising out of a speed date, it doesn’t always have to be about finding a relationship," said Allix.

"Even people who didn't get matched still indicated that they really enjoyed themselves."

He said that the advantage speed dating has over Internet dating services is that it collects from a pool of local people and you don’t have to travel a long distance to meet people face to face.

"There’s no guarantees or promises, but people have the opportunity to meet 10 new people and if they don’t connect with anyone, they can come to the next one," Allix said.

The next speed dating evening is only two weeks away. Call Whistler Speed Dating at 604-905-0670 to reserve a spot now.

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