We're no mathematicians, but this seems clear: One really is the loneliest number. Having no one to smooch on New Year's Eve is depressing enough -- until the realization hits that, in a mere 45 days, Valentine's Day rears its ugly head. You can't hurry love, but -- with the help of a handful of speed dating services and local singles groups -- you can give the selection process a nudge.
THE NEED FOR SPEED: Boy meets girl. Boy chats with girl for predetermined length of time, usually anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes. Boy indicates on scorecard whether he's interested in seeing girl again. Boy meets next girl. Held at restaurants and lounges around the Valley, speed dating parties attract scores of singles lookin' for love -- on a schedule. "Speed dating has been explosive," says Vince Gelormine, founder and CEO of Pre-Date. The company hosts events in 60 cities around the U.S., including the Valley. "It's one of our better markets," Gelormine notes.
Though they vary in the details, most speed dating events follow the same formula: Upon check-in, daters get a scorecard and name tag. Everyone takes a seat and chats with a dater of the opposite gender until a whistle or bell signals the end of the "date." Participants indicate on their scorecards if the person is a "yes" or a "no," then move on to the next. After the party, everybody enters their results online. When two people indicate that they'd like to see each other again, it's a "match," and they're provided with e-mail addresses. The rest is up to them.
At Pre-Date events, participants pair up for 12 six-minute "pre-dates." The next Valley event -- for "single professionals" -- is February 10, at Sports City Grill in downtown Phoenix. Session 1 (for women 43 to 54, men 45 to 56) begins at 6:20 p.m.; session 2 follows at 8:30 p.m. (for women 32 to 44, men 34 to 46). Registration is $34. See the Web site (listed at end of story) for details.
At HurryDate parties, singles meet up to 25 people in a series of three-minute dates. "HurryDate has become extremely popular in Phoenix -- there are always great turnouts at the events," says Allyson F. Leonard, PR manager for Hurry Brands, LLC, based in New York City. Past specialty parties have offered variations on the theme, including Christian HurryDate and Extended Play HurryDate (12 six-minute dates). Erika, 30, of Scottsdale, attended a recent event at Scottsdale's SIX. "It was a surprisingly fun experience, and I met some great people," she says. "I would definitely try something like this again." Upcoming HurryDates in the Valley (venues TBA) include February 11, for men and women ages 25 to 35; February 18, for women 30 to 40, men 35 to 45; and March 3, for folks 40 and up. "The age ranges listed are to give people an idea of the age group in attendance," adds Leonard. "If someone older or younger wants to sign up for an event, that's fine." Registration is $35.
Rapid Dating parties kick off with a cocktail mixer, then provide 15 to 20 dates of five minutes each. According to Renee Piane, president of Rapid Dating USA Inc., the company is also looking to woo Valley singles with events such as "Love Tune-Up Seminars" and "What Men and Women Really Want" panel discussion cocktail parties. "We want to continue the flow of love in Arizona," Piane says. The next Rapid Dating party is set for February 29 at Scottsdale's Kazimierz World Wine Bar.
KISS THE COOKS: Something's always cooking with The Single Gourmet of Arizona. Gathering single professionals for dinner parties, wine tastings and cooking classes, the group is not a matchmaking service -- but it is a popular way to make new friends and meet prospective dates. "We have signed on close to 200 members, and we host a variety of events each month," says Scot Moses, executive director. "We cater events based on interest and age groups." The membership fee is $125, with a $99 annual renewal, and event prices range from $15 to $80. Upcoming mixers include a Martini Party on January 23 (call or see the Web site for an invitation). On February 7, the group co-sponsors a Singles Fair and Valentine's Ball at DoubleTree's Paradise Valley Resort.
Arizona Soul Mates Professional Singles Organization
Hosts "Ten Minute Dating": up to 10 dates of 10 minutes each; also specializes in "personalized, hand-picked matchmaking"
Hosts singles parties/dances, where guests fill out forms and are given a list of compatible matches
A social dinner club for singles 21 and older
Done in a Night Dating
Hosts "Single Mingle Common Interest Parties" focusing on subjects such as fitness, photography and wine tasting
Hosts speed dating events: 25 to 50 three-minute dates in one evening, as well as "Fast-Tag Happy Hours"
Offers speed dating parties: up to 25 three-minute dates
8 Minute Dating
Hosts speed dating events: eight dates of eight minutes each
Hosts speed dating parties: up to 12 six-minute "pre-dates"
Organizes speed dating events: 15 to 20 dates of five minutes each
The Single Gourmet of Arizona
Hosts dinner parties, wine tastings, cocktail parties and cooking classes