The prospect of taking my clothes off in front of a room full of strangers is the stuff of nightmares.
But this was not a problem for the pioneers taking part in the UK’s first ever naked speed dating event at the fortuitously named Exhibit in Balham last Friday.
I take my hat off (strictly in the proverbial sense) to anybody confident enough to speed date in the traditional fashion, let alone without the luxury of wearing clothes.
Yet 30 London singles mustered up the courage to bare all on a series of quick-fire, four-minute dates, which offered them the perfect chance to take part in a totally unique dating experience.
Inspired by Channel 4’s Naked Attraction, the event was the brainchild of 33-year-old Rob Ryall, who founded speed dating company DateinaDash seven years ago.
“We are always trying to come up with quirky things and ways for people to meet. People are looking for new ways to meet people as they are getting bored of just swiping left and right,” he said.
“The people that are booking a ticket to go naked speed dating are going to be people with a lot of similar interests who are looking for similar qualities in one another.”
Various studies have emphasised the foundational importance of physical attraction in a relationship, both at a biological and conscious level – something this event took to the extreme.
Armed with their polka dot robes and score cards, participants, all aged between 23 and 35, milled between tables and stripped to varying degrees of nudity in front of their would-be partners.
After overcoming their initial hesitance, the group soon relaxed and almost seemed to forget their nakedness, a refreshing change for 28-year-old Gemma.
“It took out the awkwardness that often occurs on dates and it has been nice to have something to laugh about straight off the bat,” she said. “Somebody else probably loves the things you feel insecure about.”
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