Pheromone parties claim to put science into search for love - by allowing you to choose a mate by odour

Sophie Robehmed sniffs out her perfect partner

Although they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a new dating venture suggests that it's more reliable to trust our noses when it comes to finding true love.

That's the idea behind "pheromone parties", singles events where attendees aim to sniff out a hot date. The parties started in the States, where the formula for a pheromone-filled night out was created: party-goers sleep in a white cotton T-shirt for three nights prior to the event, put it in a zip-lock bag to seal in the scent, and bring it along to the party's venue – which is what I did on Tuesday evening for the UK's first pheromone party. Around 100 people gathered at Stories bar in east London, to look – well, smell – for love.

I talk to Philippa, 35, a serial online dater, who shares amusing anecdotes about her love life. I ask her why she decided to come tonight. She tells me that she likes "doing things that are different" and doesn't think she "should put all her eggs in one [presumably digital] basket".

Judith Prays, the LA-based founder of pheromone parties, would probably agree with Philippa's pragmatism. She started the company four years ago after coming to the realisation that online dating consistently led to short-lived relationships. Her answer was to incorporate science into the search for love. The parties are modelled on the "sweaty T-shirt study" conducted by Claus Wedekind, a Swiss biological researcher, who, as part of a 1995 study, asked women to smell shirts that had been worn by a group of men for two days. He discovered that the women were most sexually attracted to the whiff of men whose "major histocompatibility complex" genes were most dissimilar to their own. Simply put, if someone smells different to you, you're more likely to be attracted to them.

"The parties are less about the idea that smell is the answer," says Judith, "and more about asking questions because our dating approaches are clearly not working so well. The parties open up a new way of looking at dating and which pieces of information we consider when making decisions about someone."

Mid-conversation with Philippa, I catch a glimpse of a man who is clutching my T-shirt. Everyone's T-shirts are numbered and placed on tables around the room. People come up for a whiff and, if a person likes a particular T-shirt's aroma, they have their photo taken with it, which is then projected on to the wall of the bar. It's an ice-breaker of sorts – if you like the look of the man or woman that digs your odour, you can then go up and talk to them. I don't fancy the guy but go up to him, anyway, to ask him a few questions.

"There are three types of T-shirts," he says. "Some smell like the owners were ashamed and gassed themselves with perfume, others smell like rancid butter, and there are also the ones that are kind of OK. I chose this T-shirt because I wouldn't mind that smell around." Eat your heart out, Romeo! My second suitor describes my scent as "very sweet" (a slightly more romantic appraisal).

I battle the hordes surrounding the T-shirt tables for a proper sniff. Some of the shirts are particularly potent: body odour with enough gusto to singe a girl's nasal tract. Others smell of cigarettes, some have seemingly been submerged in 99p aftershave while one T-shirt conjures up mental images of a biryani. I soon realise that my favourite tops smell clean. I can't say I smelled all of them for sure but, by the end of the evening, none of the fragrances hit me like a thunderbolt of lust. I feel that choosing the just-washed shirts defeats the object – so, with the help of Philippa, we pick some bags that at least smell mildly of something more.

After a couple of hours, I lose the will to smell any more, and, after saying goodbye to a defeated Philippa, I sit chatting to Alex, who I'd met earlier in the evening. We're heading in a similar direction home so jump on the same night bus. Discussing the night, he tells me that while he wasn't sure about the evening at the outset, he ended up having fun. It wasn't love at first sniff, then, but he smells like a kindred spirit.

The next party will be at Stories on 15 July. Tickets can be bought at eventbrite.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

    Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

    £96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

    £32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste