Hi, my name is awkward! In an age of dating apps, if you are tired of Tinder and are no longer feeling OK with OKCupid, then Sweet Dreams Bubble Tea Shop’s speed dating might be up your alley. Sweet Dreams ran their first speed-dating event Feb. 11. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, participants get paired together, converse for five minutes, and then switch partners with the person to their right. A Tinder-style matching system is in place, where both parties have to be interested to get each other’s contact information after the event. </p>
Sweet Dreams tried their best to transform the small space into a romantic wonderland, hanging paper hearts, love letters, and postcards from the light fixtures, placing tea lights and roses on every table, and putting a table of bite-sized treats out for participants. Many people I talked to thought it looked lovely but the décor was not able to shake off the awkward and pressure-filled undertones permeating the shop.
Going into the event I had very little idea of what to expect when it came to participants. Because Sweet Dreams is located so close to the UW campus, I assumed it would be mostly students but there were also many graduated, working 20-somethings who found it hard to meet people outside of work. Overall there was a large mix of ages, ethnicities, personalities, and programs of study of those in school.
Bowls of paper conversation starters were placed at each table which helped cut through the awkward silences that inevitably came up. I myself am not as skilled a conversationalist as others, so those pieces of paper were a godsend and helped me survive the whole ordeal. I think they are a definite must at any future events like this.
The room felt like a pressure cooker; the stress of making a lasting impression in less than five minutes was intense. As participant Andrew Silver later commented, “The speed-dating event at Sweet Dreams was exhausting, but fun. I don’t think I [have ever] awkwardly stumbled my way through more conversations than I did there. In all seriousness, it was a nerve-racking experience that I am happy I pushed myself to do.”
Something that people commented on a lot was the conveyor-belt style because there was no time to process what happened. As soon as you stop talking to someone, you have to move on to the next without time to take a breath. This was efficient in meeting as many people as possible, however everything started to blur together after a while. When it came time to write down who you wanted to contact, many of the girls I talked to had problems remembering who was who.
The 30 minutes left for mingling were the most effective way of getting to know people, in my opinion. They were less formal and had less pressure than the short one-on-ones. When customers started to enter it broke the spell: like seeing the man behind the curtain, you became aware of the artificiality of the situation.
Overall, it was definitely an interesting experience that I am glad I had, even if it doesn’t lead to anything. If you are bored with nothing to do I think it was a fun experience worth trying once. As for a legitimate way to meet people, sites like Tinder have a wider range but require more time. It is also worth a try if other methods of dating have failed you so far.
The University of Waterloo’s dating scene is definitely a struggle for most. As Silver eloquently stated, “I guess I’m not that good with a bow and arrow. Or maybe it’s that everybody is too busy with schoolwork that they don’t have time for love. I don’t know. Dating has been a very frustrating venture for me.”
The struggle is real here and is felt all over campus.
“As a busy student focused on their degree and heavily involved with extracurriculars, the dating scene and love life is kind of non-existent. It is difficult enough balancing school with athletics, and eating, and sleeping without adding in a relationship,” Shannon Smith, one of the participants, said.
Many UW students also face the time constraints of co-op; not knowing where they will be in four months. “As someone who does not like the fast social media stuff (like Tinder), just when you feel comfortable to start something you move 500 kilometres away. It makes you reluctant to commit because of the logistics in keeping something up long distance when you know you will be leaving for a long period of time,” Smith, a co-op student herself stated.
“It also gives you something to look forward to when you move back for school.” Braving the cold harsh reality of the dating scene can be tough, but if you are ready, meeting people is the first step.
“The best ways to meet people, I think, is by joining clubs and trying to find people that have common interests with you. It can be hard to meet people in classes because there is not much time to talk so by joining clubs you have more of a chance to socialize,” fellow student Breanna Winters suggested.
“Some cooler places to meet people are like the board games cafes (there are a few in Waterloo) or even like rock climbing gyms.”
At the end of the day, you decide what way works best for you. As for the speed-dating event, there is still one more hurdle to jump over before any conclusions can be reached: matches. Silver summed up the night by saying, “Now to build up the courage to follow-up on my match.”