If you're new to Winnipeg, you'll soon realize that most people have lived here all their lives and hang out with the same group of friends they played with in the school yard in Grade 3. And these folks often just don't think to invite you into their crowd.
It's equally hard for single, life-long Winnipeggers in their late 20s or 30s to meet other single people when that same crowd (which has been hanging since Grade 3) is all paired off, or -- even worse -- now married with kids.
Perhaps that's why speed dating has become so popular, so quickly, in Winnipeg.
In the past three months, three different speed-dating groups have launched in the city, and collectively more than 500 local singles have given it a whirl.
Speed dating is a fun, no-pressure way for singles to meet other singles. It's not a dating service; essentially, it is a social event that combines The Dating Game, Beat the Clock and Musical Chairs, all in one.
How does it work? Well, a group of men and women gather. After a brief opportunity to mingle and meet other participants, the women each sit down at a table for two. The men hop from table to table, spending between five and eight minutes at each table getting to know the girl they meet there. When the buzzer rings, they move on to their next date.
Each participant has a score card and marks a yes or no beside each person they meet. At the end of the night, everyone hands in their score cards and there's another chance to mingle over drinks and appetizers.
Within 24 hours, the organizer of the event lets each participant know if he or she has any matches (whereby both parties give each other a yes). If so, the lucky pair is given each other's contact info. The rest is up to them.
"You get to meet 10 to 15 other single people in your age range, in one room, in one evening, so how can you lose?," says Sharon Tardiff of Ice Breaker Speed Dating, which has another 180 singles booked for sessions in July.
I know quite a few women who have attended speed dating nights and they all say the experience was tons of fun. Not only have they met some interesting men but they also have a whole new circle of female friends.
Most of the speed daters just want to meet new people and have some fun. They aren't necessarily that concerned about meeting the loves of their lives.
"The feedback I am getting is that whether or not they make a match, singles really just want to be able to go out, have a good time, and meet other singles," says Shelley Pfeifer, who organizes Mini Dates at the Palomino Club.
Below is some info on each of the local speed dating groups, and their upcoming events:
Call 931-1546 to register.
Venue: Vesuvio Restaurant, 696 Osborne St.
Cost: $40 (includes appetizers)
July 12 -- Mini golf/driving range barbecue evening at Shooters Golf Centre on Main St. Tickets are $25 and include food and a bucket of golf balls.
Sun. July 26 -- Grand Beach Surf Club Power Dating Session -- enjoy some sun and sand, then head to the patio at the Grand Beach Surf Club for speed dating.
Pre-register for both events at 931-1546.
Power dating is also planning wine and cheese parties, cooking classes and other singles events in the future. Check out the Web site www.winnipegscene.ca (which launches mid-July) for info on upcoming events, as well as ideas on fun things to do in the city.
Call 663-9974 to register or e-mail email@example.com
Venue: Palomino Club, 1133 Portage Ave.
Special events: Mini Dates is hosting a singles Caribbean Holiday to the Dominican Republic, set for January 2004. The all-inclusive, seven-night trip is $1,399 plus taxes per person.
For more info, check out www.funseekers.ca
Ice Breaker Speed Dating
Call 885-DATE to register or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Venue: A private function room at Jimichanga's, 2609 Portage Ave.
Cost: $35 (includes appetizers and door prizes)
Special events: Ice Breakers is planning a number of single mixers in the fall, such as a glow bowling event. For more info, go to www.icebreakerwinnipeg.com