I’ve been to a few speed dating events here in Amsterdam. Most of the companies who organise them have their own rules and guidelines but one of the rules of a blind date which I went on recently, made me smile. It brought a grin to my face because it’s such an unusual thing, this rule, but funny at the same time. The guys are told to carry an identifying object, which could be a flower, an artichoke, a punnet of strawberries or anything else. My date was carrying a breakfast cereal box.
I had an article published on the British Society news bulletin about a year ago. So I signed up for their monthly newsletter and ever since, have been getting their letter via email, along with notices of other events that the society organises in Amsterdam.
Their latest email announced their 16th Mass Blind Date, to be held on Friday 17th May. “The Amsterdam Blind Date not only gives you the chance to meet someone new, it’s the only date in town that gives you the chance to swap them if they don’t work out” says the blurb on the Brit Soc (British Society) flyer. You go on the date and then meet up with everyone at Café de Jaren for the after-party. The whole thing is free.
If you want to take part, you fill in their entry form, giving details such as: your name, email address, mobile number (to ensure that if the organisers have any issues they are able to contact you), gender, age, height, your star sign and two interesting things about yourself and you submit the form.
The organisers then do their best to match you. if you do get matched, then you go and meet your date at a designated bar near Café de Jaren, spend 1.5 hours talking to each other and return together to the Jaren to swap stories (or dates even) with everyone else who went on blind dates. The men are told to go to a particular bar, stand in a specific area and carry the identifying object. The women call the blind date hotline number on the afternoon of the date, are told the bar to go to, where the man will be standing and what he’ll be carrying.
As I mentioned earlier, I’d been to one or two speed dating events in the past, one with Speeddaten.nl and the second with Expatica.com. Speed dating is the “three minute experience” where you get the chance to meet between fifteen and twenty guys in one evening, each one for three minutes at a time. But this blind date, talking to just one guy for an hour and a half, was a different ballgame altogether. What if you don’t like the guy? That hour and a half could be a long, drawn out experience. There is also the chance that you might actually get on with each other and have a laugh. So I thought, “Well why not try it?”
I tried to enlist the support of a friend of mine who filled in the form but she wasn’t actually matched up with anyone unfortunately. I decided to go anyway. Brit Soc emailed me to say that I had been matched and I called the date hotline twice on the day but they weren’t answering and I just got their voicemail. What’s the point of having a hotline if they’re not going to answer it? They did say that the phone had been crazy all afternoon.
At about 5pm I checked my emails and they’d sent me a message to say they couldn’t contact me and could I confirm that I was still ok for the date. Why didn’t they just email everybody they had matched in the first place? I wasn’t happy with that but at least I had been matched and was given the name of the bar to go to, which was Café Dante on the Spuistraat and was told that the guy would be carrying a breakfast cereal box. The poor guy! Imagine trying to discreetly put that somewhere. I think they should also give you the first name of the guy you’re meeting but they don’t.
Anyway, to cut to the chase I went to Café Dante at 8pm. The guy was sitting at a table near the entrance with his box of cereal. He was a nice guy and I enjoyed the evening. At about 9.30pm we went back to Café de Jaren and met up with his friend and some of the other people who had been on dates. I’m glad I went. I’m curious though as to what sort of objects guys had to carry on these dates. I’d love to know.