The Jedi Knight looks over the silent pairs of men and women lining the walls. He gives the signal and suddenly the room is filled with the deafening noise of 50+ people quickly asking and answering questions in order to find their potential geek love connection. This was Sci-Fi Speed Dating, and it was actually a pretty fun diversion from the usual convention offerings.
Speed dating might seem like a strange thing to try at a convention, but the knowledge that the person across from you will understand (if not share) your nerd proclivities is a significant bonus. Run by owner Ryan Glitch and featured on TLC’s Geek Love, women are stationed in a circle around the room while suitors sit across, moving to the left every three minutes to start a new “mini date”. Women are free to participate, while the men pay a fee for the opportunity. Each party wears a numbered name tag, and uses a pen and index card to keep track of the numbers of people they clicked with.
I approached the room for the event and hoped there were women inside because outside the door was a significantly long line of men stretching down the hall. Inside, the room was full of curious but anxious ladies sitting across from empty chairs. As I snagged a seat next to an attractive woman wearing an “Exhibitor” tag, I took a glance around at the other 25 or so women looking to find a panel-hopping partner. Ages ranged from 18 to late 30s, with all sorts of body types and cosplay represented. Daenerys Targaryen checked her cell while an elf chatted with another friend in plain clothes.
Glitch came out and asked for silence and attention as he explained some quick tactics for us ladies to signal him in case of an overzealous suitor. He cracked a few jokes and the tension in the room dissipated. Soon, the men came pouring in. There was no way that there were enough women for the amount of hopeful guys in the wings, as Glitch only let in a matching amount for the women present. Ladies definitely ruled the show here.
Additional rules were given once the men joined us, such as no sharing personally identifying information and limiting location to closest city. It was a little strange to have no age categories (I definitely felt like Mrs. Robinson a few times) Soon, I was chatting with a nice guy from a neighboring state and sharing what brought each of us to the convention. By the time we reached anything beyond surface level, Glitch was booming “3, 2, 1, SWITCH!!” As time went on, everyone got better at jumping to a few key questions (Are you local? Who are you seeing here? What are your fandoms?) and you could hear laughter and excited chatter as people furtively wrote down numbers before moving to the next person.
Those in cosplay had an advantage on instant talking points and affinity. I was immediately enamored with a cute guy wearing Star Trek insignia, and we quickly found that are Trekkie tendencies made for easy banter.
There simply was not enough time to have everyone meet each other, so the event came to a close after meeting about 15-20 people. We divided into groups of girls and guys, writing our contact information on the sheet corresponding with the numbers we jotted down previously. No need to wait for the organizer to see if both parties wrote down the same number. The onus is on you to reach out (and remember) who is who. There were several clear favorites for the women, who were done giving out details much quicker than the men. Afterwards, people lingered, getting last chances at face-to-face time with potential dates for later in the weekend.
After the con I met up with my Trekkie suitor and we got to hang out and chat about non-geek interests as well as a con wrap-up.
No matter how it pans out, I have to say that Sci Fi speed dating is well-worth the time away from the convention floor, especially if you are a geek girl looking for a similarly aligned guy. Who knows, you may even find the Spock to your Uhura in that loud and lively conference room.