Toronto speed dating lures women with cops, firemen
When I sat down Libra Lounge on Thursday night for the Men in Uniforms charity speed dating event, I didn't meet the chest-baring model in a fireman jacket that accompanied their webpage, but neither did I meet the cliched balding policeman with cheetos stains on his mouth and donut crumbs on his fingers. Instead, my first date of the night was a full-time fireman who was just as nervous as I was. Turns out that he, like me, had never been to a singles event before, and laughing at our mutual discomfort became a starting point to what was a whirlwind of eight-minute dates with 10 interesting and charismatic men.
This event was for heterosexual singles hosted by FastLife.ca, a speed dating and singles event service, in support of Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital. According to them, eight minutes is the optimal time for a speed date because it's just long enough that you get to know somebody beyond the basic introductions, but also short enough that the conversation doesn't drag. Going by the volume of the chatter around the lounge, it seemed that most people were having a good time and that some connections were being made.
The entrance fee was $80 for the women and free for the men who showed up in uniform. Unfortunately, as date number eight told me, most men who wear uniforms aren't supposed to do so while off-duty. Instead, the majority of the men wore form-fitting t-shirts that denoted their profession (shout out to the one paramedic who put the effort in to attach epaulettes to his shirt), and the entire event was more casual than a Halloween party. For the most part, the men were doctors or part of the emergency services, but two did take the theme liberally â one was a PhD "doctor" and the other a "personal trainer" who was really more like a lifestyle coach. Nonetheless, there was still plenty to ogle at.
The open bar seemed to help calm nerves and gave liquid confidence to first-timers and seasoned pros alike. I was even able to pretend that my cranberry-lychee juice was really cranberry vodka long enough for placebo to take effect, and the conversation continued during the intermission where Libra Lounge served up a few plates of finger foods.
The hosts did their best to move the men along after every eight minutes and tried to wrangle participants with microphones that sounded more like muffled walkie-talkies. Along with having more women than men, it made for some funny confusions. At the end of the night, everybody handed in a yes-or-no score card. If the date you liked also chose 'yes' for you, the organizer provides both people with their contact information the next day.
Of the 10 men I "dated," I clicked with some more than most, and rolled my eyes at the personal trainer who decided to try the "in my country, we greet people by kissing each other's cheeks" line (note to the men out there: you do actually need a certain amount of cheek to pull this off, and it doesn't work when every lady in the lounge can see you repeating the move), but I certainly enjoyed myself and wanted to see at least two of my dates again. I also learned a surprising amount about Toronto emergency services and heard fantastic stories about when they were on duty.
Writing by Cynthia Yao. Photo by Jesse Milns.
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