All The Single Ladies

Last night, I went to a singles night. I’ll avoid naming the company here. That feels sort-of unfair, although I could make an argument for the fact that perhaps a degree of transparency from their end would have made things feel fairer…

My friend and I (I’ll add her name here if she’s happy for me to, otherwise I’ll refer to her as Lady Mystery – LM) headed over to THE LAND OF HIPSTERS having booked the tickets for the event two months prior. The Charlotte back in February, she was younger. Naïve. Oblivious. She had suggested going with a blasé nonchalance. As I made my way to meet LM, I suddenly hated younger me with a passion – how dare she set me up like this?!? Why was I going to this event? Why was I turning a friend into an accomplice in misadventure?

The answer, and I have no shame in saying this, was it felt a real opportunity to maybe meet someone. Someone to hang out with. Maybe fall in love with? Whilst in the midst of a year-long self-imposed ban from dating apps (#AppFree23) going to an in-person dating event felt like a good option. Maybe the only option.

We arrived at the pub/warehouse with the deliciously awful trepidation that sets in when you have the grandiose realisation of the endless possibilities of life – at how swiftly things can change so unexpectedly. That a look or conversation with a stranger could be the start of something. Be that at a shop, an event, work or a warehouse/pub. Heck, I wouldn’t even be here writing this if one brave soul hadn’t chatted up a fitty on the Tube (Hey, Mum and Dad!) We cross the threshold, as I feign confidence I definitely do not feel inside, smiling brightly – fixed Chesire Cat grin – at the woman at the desk and wave my ticket in her face.

‘Oh! Are you here for the dating event?’ She smiles back warmly, kindly, seemingly aware of the internal trepidation I am currently enduring. ‘Just walk through the pub,’ she continues. Sounds so simple doesn’t it, walking through a pub – she may have well have asked me to run a half marathon, ‘then turn left at the bar. Enjoy!’

LM and I make our way through the pub. It is full of men. Maybe near-enough only men? And, oh my, this night is looking good. Men on their own. Men in pairs. Men in groups. LOOK AT ALL THESE MEN!?! And they’re single? I’ve found them! I feel like I’ve found the Loch Ness monster, who was hanging out with Big Foot and making weird hybrid babies. I have discovered Atlantis, the mythical place were single men reside.

Did you know there were two big football matches on last night?

I didn’t.

They weren’t here for the event. They were there to watch the footie with their mates. They weren’t here to meet me. Want to know how I realised that? As I had to queue by a door that was under a bright neon sign that declared the name of the company/event which left it in no under certain terms this was an event for singles.

Now, I have no problem with being single. I’m very open about it. You may have read things I’ve written about it before – be that how lonely it can be, how I found myself grieving being on path different than I expected, how awful speed dating on a Friday night in Bank was and how I even did a Guardian Blind Date. But, it was incredibly humbling to be stood under that sign, leaving behind the appealing-looking plaid-wearing bushy-bearded hipsters to go into a mysterious side room. Shepherded away from what we had come here before, but who knew what would be through the door…

It was a – currently pretty empty – warehouse with tables, which would later on double in size. There was a bar. A free shot card could be cashed in as/when we wished. That had been mentioned in advance. As had the 90s theme and live music. Perhaps that was an ambiguous descriptor and we had gotten the wrong end of the stick because I thought that, even if the event was a dud – at least I’d be getting a boogie to some 90s tuuuunes.

No offence to the very talented singer and her accompanying guitarist but, coming to a non-digital event to meet new people – be that new friends or potential loves of life aside – I had never imagined variants of songs by Katie Melua, Norah Jones and Eva Cassidy soundtracking my foray into a mass singles event. I want to celebrate being young(ish), foolish(most definitely) and happy (I mean, I try). I would go on to have this despite, and undoubtedly because, of these and other factors. How many bicycles are in Beijing isn’t the most applicable musical conundrum to compliment the situation we had found ourselves in. Later, a breathy cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’ felt like a personal attack.

Now, all of these things are surmountable, vibes can be created and curated after all. Ascetics aren’t why we are here. Ass-etics are. (#SorryNotSorry). As women looking to date men (I know, I know. Thank you for your sympathies) we are here to hopefully meet some men. Let’s get some chatting in, maybe some cheeky flirting? Who knows?!? The night is young and full of possibilities isn’t it?

Full. Funny word that. Because the warehouse was full of people. Near-exclusively women. As the event had promised 400 people would be in attendance, I shall use that to guide my maths here. This warehouse was full of 390 women. And 10 men.

Huh.

At this point, I should say the event had not promised even numbers or anything of the short. And, of course, it hadn’t promised the impossible by ensuring LoLs would be met that night. In the branding materials, there’s an emphasis on how it’s a chance to make female friends as well as date. Talk about hedging your bets. And I did in fact make two new friends, who LM and I already have a group chat with (I called it sequins as we met both of them talking about sequins. I never claimed to be inventive!) Hanging out with them was glorious, as we mainly delivered scathing missives to each other about the event.

But, during the 3am panic I would later endure in bed that night, as I worried about how this evening was clearly a sign that I will inevitability die alone after having had a brutal hit to my self-esteem and romantic optimism, I tried to unpick why I was feeling this way. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: 1) We’d paid £15 for a dating event, where some semblance of dating was somehow meant to occur with a ratio of 39:1. 2) Some, if not all of the men, hadn’t paid or had been offered some sort of discount as an incentive. Discovering that was a kicker. They had not come on their own volition but had needed encouragement to attend. 3) Getting into a position of talking to one of the 10 men was a Herculean task, involving trying to catch their attention or joining a pre-existing circle of conversation. 4) It turns out that, when stood in a group of multiple women to one man, it can feel pretty crappy to have their eyes over your shoulder scouring for better opportunities. Now, I understand why this happened. I make no claim that I’d be doing anything different in the reverse version of this scenario. It’s like you were headed to play Supermarket Sweep at Tesco Metro but you’ve actually ended up at Big Tesco – there’s way more to look at than you expected, you’re short on time and you want to grab the best shop possible. 5) It could have all been solved with a bit of transparency in advance. An update to attendees so expectations could be suitably adjusted.

I could be really corny, and end this on – the truthful and accurate statement – that friendship really was the highlight yesterday. We sat and chatted, laughed at all sorts and desperately tried to avoid the eye contact of the Miniature Cowboy doing laps of the venue surveying us like cattle. And you know what, I’m going to be that earnest and sentimental. Because, whilst I’m sad that the opportunity didn’t play out as I hoped and I genuinely have no idea how I’ll ever met someone, last night I got to sit with a new mate scoffing free overly-fennel-y sausage rolls whilst watching one of our group perform a group Macarena on stage.

And, if there’s anything that can be learnt from the past 3 years, you’ve got to embrace and hold on tight to unexpected joy.

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One comment

  1. contacttimes · April 30

    Better to drop Tinder and become a psychedelic c-c-catapillar grrl.

    Like

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