Speed dating takes Latvia by storm

  • 2008-02-27
  • By Monika Hanley and Talis Saule Archdeacon

SPEEDY SEDUCTION: With a mere five minutes to make a lasting impression, Vakara Flirters put their best foot forward.

RIGA - Guys and gals get ready 's speed dating has come to Latvia! After only a few months in operation, the idea has already taken a strong hold and shown that it is here to stay.
In most places throughout Western Europe and North America, speed dating is already a well established service with dozens of companies holding events nightly. In this small Baltic state, however, things are just starting to gear up.

The first, and so far only, Latvian speed dating service held its premier events in Riga last October. The company is called Vakara Flirts (evening flirt), and so far it hasn't had any trouble drawing people in. Some local celebrities have even started showing up for the events.
"Almost everybody knows what it is 's women are more active, but guys also are coming. So far 12 events have happened, [there is one] every week... Everything is going up. Latvians seem to like it, it is something new for them," Zane Maurina, organizer of the events, told The Baltic Times.

The way it works is 10 guys and 10 girls register with the company and all meet in a romantic bar somewhere in the center of Riga. They then rotate around, going on a series of five minute mini-dates with members of the opposite sex (there's no gay service as of yet). Drinks are included in the ticket price, so there is no need to worry about awkward situations buying each other cocktails.
After meeting everyone, participants give the company the names of those they might be interested in seeing more of. If two people ask about each other, the company e-mails them each others contact information.
"It is very interesting, many different people come and it is interesting to talk to everybody 's they are all so different. The atmosphere is very romantic.  I like it very much," Maurina said of her own personal experiences speed dating.

Maurina said there have even been a few success stories from the events. She excitedly spoke about one couple who met during a Christmas event and are now in a serious relationship, and the number of new couples she sees out on dates after meeting at a speed dating event.
But don't expect things to just work out on their own, it takes a certain amount of finesse and just the right approach to make a good impression when you only have five minutes to strut your stuff. Maurina had a few tips for first timers.

"Mostly people ask things like 'what is your name? What do you do? What are your hobbies?' But after ten people ask these questions, they get kind of boring. So we advise people to come up with interesting questions. Also, a little dress code helps 's casual but nice, like it's a date. Be open and ready to meet someone," she said.
Not quite trusting the organizer of the program to give a fair and balanced view of the events, The Baltic Times decided to get the impressions of some of the women who have taken part in speed dating.

A tale of 10 daters
Typical of the current demographic situation, there are always more girls than guys signing up for these events, occasionally (but not too often) causing an imbalance. But this is good news for the fellows though, who can have their pick of eligible young ladies. It's highly advisable for ladies to sign up way ahead of time, as tickets sell out fast. And understandably so. How many times can you say you've gone out for the evening, spent only 10 lats, and met with 10 guys in one night?

 Many wonder if five minutes is enough time to really get to know someone. Of course not, BUT it is just enough time to see what the other wants to present to you and that in itself says a lot. After you receive an e-mail of your ratings (+ or -) and contact info, you can decide how to proceed. However this is where the tricky part comes in. Who calls whom? Do you wait for the guy to call? Or does this make you look desperate? Some might say the whole experience is an act of desperation, but such is really not the case. These are simply local professionals or students who don't have the weekend time to go out and meet people.
Having everything arranged on a Tuesday evening (and lets face it, what else more exciting would you be doing on a typical Tuesday?), is a convenient and low pressure way to meet people in a secure and fun environment.

Some wonder what kind of guys come to this sort of event. They aren't the ones you might imagine. These are the gentlemen of the crowd, the ones who might be a bit shyer than the rest, but ones really ready to meet someone and treat a lady right. The men don't usually hesitate to call the girls in the days following their evaluation e-mail, eliminating that "who calls who" question. The service also plans to expand into the corporate sphere, not in a necessarily romantic way, but by allowing business partners and similar people to get to know one another on fun and exciting outings.

Not only is this a good way to meet people, it's also a fun way to spend an evening with people your own age. Whether you intend to take your relationship(s) to the next level and actually date the person(s), or not, (most of the people here aren't coming to look for a spouse) it will certainly be the most exciting Tuesday evening you've had in a long time.