‘Go and talk to strangers – it’s fun’: why speed dating is having a moment

‘Go and talk to strangers – it’s fun’: why speed dating is having a moment

As more singles swear off ‘the apps’, a new generation is bringing back an old way of meeting in real life

L ilian no longer knows how many times she’s deleted all the dating apps from her phone. Somehow, she always reinstalls them.

While she says she hates “the apps”, as they are now known (begrudgingly or affectionately, depending on your success), going clubbing or hanging around at a pub is “not where you meet people”.

Lilian says dating apps have made romance feel like another chore to manage. In place of locked eyes and butterflies there’s monotonous swiping, weighing up someone’s potential from a few judiciously selected snapshots.

Calculate wrong and you risk wasting another night figuring out how to leave a date politely. Get too invested in a sure-seeming bet and risk falling into a pit of despair when they ghost.

“I had been single for quite a while and was at a point in my life where I really wanted to meet someone,” the 32-year-old says. But this time, instead of initiating another reinstall-delete cycle, she found an alternative: speed dating.

Lilian is far from alone in her app apathy, and this combined with the difficulty of finding dates by other means appears to be giving speed dating its moment.

The number of speed dating events across Australia has increased over the past decade. Figures shared with Guardian Australia from ticketing platform Eventbrite show there have been 114,000 tickets sold to 4,000 events nationally. But almost half of those events were in the past two years, and from 2022 to 2023 the number grew by 35%.

Shaking off the stigma

When people think of speed dating, Lilian says, they probably think of the TV stereotype that it’s a last desperate bid for love. She knew it wouldn’t quite be like that but still she was nervous.

Her nerves quickly dissipated at the speed dating event she attended. Lire la suite