Assistant Managing Editor
SPRINGFIELD Unconventional dating methods have risen in popularity over the last few years. Internet sites such as match.com, eharmony.com and cupid.com have catapulted their dating services into profitable online ventures.
The major success of these sites has to be contributed to more adults being willing to try non-traditional routes to finding a potential mate. Cupid.com transitioned that idea into the speed dating concept, an event that hosts an average of up to 12 mini-dates in one evening. Western Massachusetts has recently become a part of that expansion and now cupid.com will host its very first speed dating events in Springfield on Sept. 9 and 29.
"I think unconventionally meeting people has become very [acceptable]," Dana R. Swinney-Murphy, Springfield/Western Mass. event coordinator, said. "It's a great way to get out there and people."
Both September speed dating events are divided by age groups, though Swinney-Murphy said it is more of a guideline and there are no restrictions. If a person is a year or two off from the designated age group, they are still welcome to attend the event. The Sept. 9 event, which will be hosted at the Keg Room on State Street, is for ages 27 to 39. The Sept. 29 date is for ages 32 to 42 at the Shakago Martini & Piano Bar on Hampden Street.
The set-up is designed to make way for an easy and fun social experience, without any of that awkward first date anxiety or that pesky, uncomfortable thing called rejection.
"They are a ton of fun," Swinney-Murphy said. "What happens is there are up to 12 dates in a night. The women stay seated throughout the night and every six minutes the men move. You have six minutes to chat. Research shows that people have chemistry between them within the first few minutes of talking."
When participants register for the event, the site asks for their e-mail address and name. That information is forwarded to Swinney-Murphy and the night of speed dating the participant gets a badge with his or her first name only. No other personal information is divulged.
Everyone is given a score card where they can keep track of persons of interest to them or someone they may be more interested in getting to know. The card is turned in at the end of the night.
If matches have been made (that is, that the same person has also checked you off as someone they would like to get to know), an e-mail will be sent to you the following day confirming that they are interested as well.
"There's no rejection. You only get to talk to people you want to talk to. It's also on your own schedule. You have total control," Swinney-Murphy said.
Right now she is hosting speed dating events for single professionals; later, she would like to throw them for college students. Swinney-Murphy also highly encourages more men to register, since at times the amount of women participants can outnumber the men.
She also isn't just singing the praises of unconventional dating methods because its her day job. Swinney-Murphy, who's in her early 30s, met her husband online.
"I think it's going to be great for this area because there's not many single type events here and clubs and bars don't guarantee [that you'll always meet someone]," Swinney-Murphy said.
There is still room available for both September speed dating events. Registration is $35 and can be accessed online at www.cupid.com/predating.aspx. For an extra $5, phone registrations can be made by calling 877-477-3328.
"The purpose is to meet someone who is a potential mate for you," Swinney-Murphy added, "but it is a networking event as well."