Looking for love? Try silent speed dating – a quirky way to meet new people in South West London

I stood looking at the mirror trying to gaze deeply into my own eyes and soul to see if I could find something about myself in there.

Despite not having a revelation of biblical proportions I still got the chance to mentally prepare myself for two hours of potentially awkward stares.

But at least I was at an advantage – my mum always told me I had big evocative eyes.

I was about to plunge in head first into the largely untested waters of silent dating, the latest in a series of outlandish events aimed at creating a real, unspoken connection between people.

I took off the over-sized Belle and Sebastian t-shirt I had been wearing all day and substituted it with a denim shirt which was making a long-awaited comeback.

A new haircut, a two-day-old shave, all meticulously done to roughen me up around the edges, shedding the ‘cute’ vibe in a calculated attempt to bring sexy back.

I had been preparing for this for a whole month, but as 7 o’clock loomed ever closer, the doubts started coming to my head.

What if I, in my early 20s, was about to be thrust into a place full of middle-aged people?

What if I fall in love after a minute of intense peering into someone’s soul and then as soon as she opens her mouth I realise we have absolutely nothing in common?

But what did I have to lose?

Clearly talking had been going so well for me to the point where I was heading out to a silent dating event.

So, with some optimism, I got on the train to Clapham to meet 40 other single Londoners who were also looking to find love.

EYEING UP THE COMPETITION: SWL’s Greg gets some practise in ahead of his silent dating debut

After being welcomed by the host Adam, and his fantastic moustache, some of my fears were put to rest.

I was still the youngest by some distance but most of the crowd was also in their 20s or early 30s. There was hope.

The evening was going to be broken up into two parts, Adam explained.

The first would involve some bonding games which ranged from weird to outright bizarre – the second would be the speed dating part.

All in silence, of course.

There was a game of I never which asked people to move from one side of the room to the other based on what they’d done.

For the first time in the night I felt awkward as my prudishness was laid bare for all to see – I was rooted to the spot from start to finish.

There was some tame kung-fu fighting, dancing and even touching fingers in an ET-phone-home-esque manner.

As the ridiculousness escalated I lost count of the number of times Adam said that the latest thing we were being asked to do was the most ridiculous thing he would have us doing for the rest of the evening.

If it sounds a bit weird, that’s because it really was. Say what you want about it though it worked.

The confusion on people’s faces soon gave way to wide smiles and laughter. So what’s the logic behind all of this this?

silent dating game
FUN TIMES: Some participants giggle their way through the event

I honestly don’t know. But I suppose after being led around the room with my eyes closed connected only by fingertips, any other awkwardness I’d face in a day-to-day situation would pale in comparison.

After a quick break, during which we were advised to keep silent, I kept schtum. I had to prove wrong the naysayers who doubted I could keep my mouth shut for two hours.

The only words that passed my lips throughout this was my drink order at the bar. I was going to need some alcohol in me if I was going to sit down for the next half hour and just stare at people.

So I took my place, was allocated the lucky number 14 and waited for my first date to arrive.

I reached out with a fist bump, she wanted a high-five. It was a war of ideologies from which we were both too stubborn to back down from. It was awkward.

If that first date was an indication of what was to come…oh God.

One girl grabbed my hand and seemed genuinely impressed by it. I am still trying to find out what that was about.

shhh dating
SHHH! Speed dating… but without all the talking

There was a thumb war at one point and another made gestures pointing to my eyes and mouthed the word ‘beautiful’.

She was cheating but I wasn’t complaining. Turns out mum had been right all along.

There was some magic to this – I could finally understand what Adam meant when he talked about forming a deep connection without talking.

There were some minutes I wished time would stop so I could keep looking whereas others felt like hours dragging on.

After it was all over we were told we were welcome to stay behind and talk. There was a huge sigh of relief, but I felt more nervous than ever.

What are the first words you say to someone after you feel you’ve gotten to known them but are yet to speak to?

Then I was confronted by an old nemesis – the friend zone.

A pretty brunette sauntered over and said how she had been finding the speed dating a bit of a slog, until she came across me (result!) then she added ‘you just seem like such a sound guy, I really want to be friends with you.’

It took exactly a minute and a total of zero words to be pushed into that area all men want to avoid. Surely that is some kind of record?

“It took exactly a minute and a total of zero words to be pushed into the friend zone. Surely that is some kind of record?”

I ended the evening on a type of triple date at a Be At One nearby. So, what happened next? Well that would be telling now, wouldn’t it?

Fast-forward to two days later. I’m sitting at the office, writing this article, when an e-mail pinged into my inbox with the results of my evening.

I’m nervous. What if no-one loved me back?

As it turns out I was matched up with five people who I’d also ticked.

So it would seem that sexy was indeed brought back.

Related Articles