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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Friday — February 13, 2004


Looking for love in all the wrong places?

Try speed dating

Express Staff Writer

Single and frustrated? For those looking for love, The Coffee Grinder in Ketchum recently organized a night of speed dating as part of the ongoing Thursday night entertainment series. Hesitant, petrified and a little mortified, I went in the name of Carrie Bradshaw and "Sex in the City."

Speed dating is a relatively new dating technique based on Jewish traditions. Traditionally, young single Jews gathered in chaperoned settings to encourage interfaith dating and marriage. In 1999, Rabbi Yaacov Dego revitalized the traditional gatherings and speed dating emerged.

Speed dating at The Coffee Grinder. Express photo by David N. Seelig

Speed dating involves an evening of short (three- to eight-minute) dates with the potential to meet up to 25 singles. Singles sign up for the evening, converse and move on to their next date. Singles then leave their personal contact information, score their dates and then hope for a follow up call or e-mail.

An abundance of dating services such as "Hurry Date" and "Quick Encounters" abound on the Web to organize the ventures. Amazon.com even sells "Speed Dating: A Timesaving Guide to Finding Your Life Long Love" by Yaacov and Sue Dego. Speed dating has taken off with organized gatherings exploding in U.S. cities and England. Now speed dating has arrived in Ketchum.

I arrived to speed dating at The Coffee Grinder at 8 p.m. with no idea who my fellow speed daters would be. The participants all pre-registered on the creative, black construction paper sign-up sheet at the coffee counter days earlier for their time slot of choice. The evening consisted of two full time slots for speed dating. The sign up sheet allocated each name a window, which was then taped shut as soon as daters signed up for the event. With this creative method, participants had no idea who the others might be.

Imagining the worse, I prepared myself with a handful of questions I could spring on my date. The Grinder also anticipated the potential for awkward situations and provided each table with a green envelope stuffed with handwritten questions. Luckily, none of the eight dates came close to needing the assistance of the envelope.

The night began with each woman taking her spot at a table. Then each man sat at a respective table positioned across from his female date. The guys were nothing like the dirty slime I feared. Instead, people athletic, hippie and corporate attended, some looking for friends in a new town, others for love.

As the series of five-minute dates began, conversation flowed. Everything from youth ministry to skiing in Switzerland talk filled the tiny coffeehouse. The chance meetings allowed couple’s paths, likely and unlikely, to cross. One man even made the trip up from Boise.

After five minutes, the barista rang a bell to signal the end of the conversation. Then each man shuffled to the next table and new conversation began again. The rotation continued until each couple had a chance to meet.

Surprisingly, the evening was painless and enjoyable. Five minutes was a sufficient amount of time to spark interesting dialogue with no commitment, fear of rejection or awkward attempt to escape.

Who knows, it may be the best new way to find a date, next to the Casino, of course.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.