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Alexi Duggins asks: What do we have to do to find love in this city?

Posted at 3:30 pm, July 5, 2014 in Fun London

Alexi Duggins © Rob Greig

Life in London: so many issues. Each week our curious editor-at-large asks a question no-one dares (or cares) to. This week: the rise of oddball dating nights.

Disclaimer: there’s nothing wrong with being single. Sure, I’m attached now, but I speak from many, many (many) years of experience. No obligations, no responsibilities, no having to delay that episode of ‘True Detective’ until date night. When smug, coupledup friends look pityingly at you on Valentine’s Day and ask: ‘Have you got anything to do tonight?’ you can respond: ‘Yes, I’m doing what I do every night, WHATEVER THE HELL I LIKE!’

But sooner or later we all fancy a cuddle . And for Londoners, that’s when things can get a bit… tricky. Granted, rush hour means that there’s probably more per capita crotch grinding on the Northern line than in most Shagaluf meat markets. But actually talk to a hottie on the tube? Are you radio rental?

Panda gif

Nope, if we Londoners want to meet new partners, we need zookeepers to mate us . Or at least judging by the way our dating nights are going. London Zoo recently ran a dating night where zookeepers paired people up with the same techniques they use to mate animals. Last Wednesday, the Science Museum put on a speeddating event where singletons wore paper bags over their heads. On Saturday, the Southbank Centre ran a night that coupled people according to their fave ancient Greek notion of love. There’s zumba speed-dating. There’s speed-dating on the Emirates Air Line. And on July 15, there’s the second London Pheromone Party: a night that tries to sniff out true romance by whether or not you like the smell of someone’s sweaty T-shirt. But, erm, are ‘Blind Date’ cheese dreams really the best way to find love?

Yes. Christ knows there are jokes to be made. For example: ‘People using chat-up techniques on the Emirates cable car? That’ll be the first time any of its passengers say, “What a great line!”.’ But London needs these nights. Thanks to Grindr, Tinder, Lovestruck et al, potential dates have become something you swipe through on your phone between work emails. In the last few years, we’ve turned the search for a soulmate into electronic sex-admin. Nowadays, finding a date is like playing a computer game. ‘Call of Booty’?

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Why grimace through awkies small talk with an online hook-up when you travel back to the future in a Secret Cinema DeLorean? Why fret over bill-splitting etiquette when you could shake your bum at a silent disco atop the Shard? No reason. Which is why oddball dating nights are great. It’s hard to maintain an awkward silence when you’re titting around with paper bag on your head. Suddenly, you’re not obsessing over whether someone has the right attitude to foreign cinema. You’re at just another quirky night out in London, with the possibility of snuggles.

Are you really more likely to love because a zookeeper says so? Probably not. Will you jiggy because of principles developed by dead Greek men? Unlikely. But this way you have a laugh. You meet new people in a way that makes you grin, even if you don’t find Mr Right. Or Mrs Right. Or Right Human-Who-Chooses-Not-to-Obey- Strict-Gender-Categories-Thank-You- Very-Much. The point is that you’re dating in a way that’s focused on silliness and smiles. And isn’t that what romance should be all about?

Read more about Alexi’s adventures.

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