Being Modern: Speed-dating


It's 8:15pm. I am standing in the lobby of the Science Museum and I am about to go speed-dating. There is nothing sexy about the surroundings: it's dinner time, the room is strip-lit and we are standing 3ft from an ice-cream concession.

Immediately, I feel too young to be here, and the majority of men look as though they have come straight from a JP Morgan mixer – I might as well be at Canary Wharf for all the array of human life present. I have a name tag the size of Europe tacked to my shirt and a sad glass of museum red clamped in my hand.

Speed-dating has been going since 1998 – when American rabbi Yaacov Deyo invented the practice to encourage Jewish singles in LA to meet – but you might have expected it to have evolved beyond the ice-breaker-claxon-move-on format in the past decade-and-a-half.

And, outside of this apologetic night, it has. Though it is not as pervasive as its online cousin, speed-dating has adopted quite the adventurous bent – there's been love on a roller coaster (and not just the metaphorical, Ronan Keating kind), courting on ice, serenading at the foosball table, swing-dance soliciting and silent flirting at libraries (the eyes have it, natch).

At this year's Frieze, there was even fake dating: British artist Ed Fornieles set up Characterdate, which encouraged people to adopt a fake identity, transforming both them and their dating experiences into a narrative in the process. You can sign up online if you fancy it, at

It can't be worse than date number two back at the museum, as Banker John opens with the line, "If you could be successful at anything in life, what would it be? Oh, and don't say a princess." It's all I can do to wait for the siren – which can only be described as the sound of several fairies dying – so I can move on and "pursue love" in another direction.

Perhaps Speed Hating is worth a go: for those "tired of dating events treating you like chopped liver", it runs nights at which you insult your date. Maybe I'll see Banker John there, which would be nice. There are a few things I have to say…