There was a time, not too long ago, when Saturday was the unofficial date night. Technology in all its guises has changed the playing field. With the onslaught of location-based applications, dating in Internet time has been accelerated to mobile minutes, making it possible for singles to make instant connections premised on proximity. While location-based dating applications are all the rage among the 20-something set, it’s not surprising that singles who have been out of the dating scene and are looking for love the second around do not necessarily have the gizmos, skills or desire to embrace on-the-go dating.
So what if we could turn back time, press the rewind button and go back to dating the old fashioned way? Well, here’s some good news for you - some of the industry’s most formidable online matchmakers are taking the conventional approach by offering offline services to their members. Leading the pack is Shaadi.com, the largest matrimonial website for South Asians, which inaugurated the first brick and mortar matchmaking center in North America. At the Toronto-based love clinic singles will find a trusted team of advisors devoted to helping them find their soul mate without a mouse or computer. This type of hands-on dating service is a refreshing offer for many individuals given the strict cultural rituals of the South Asian community, and also bodes well for an increasing numbers of divorcees (up 84% in 2010) and suddenly single boomers who are not equipped to handle current technologies.
Though Shaadi.com is the first to jump into the rink at this level, other niche providers are also taking a less virtual approach to dating. Here are some examples of companies where singles can meet, play and date:
Meetcha.com: Brainchild of Jeff Taylor, former C.E.O. of Monster.com, Meetcha.com caters to the 40+ singles that may be tired of or turned off by the bar-scene. Meetcha.com is a social platform that brings people together much the same way as Meetup.com but with the purpose of bringing fun back to dating through group outings. The company is pushing their concept of “PODS” - People Out Doing Stuff™ “by launching organized events that take singles who share the same interests away from their computers into a real-life group setting where there is less pressure and more likelihood of meeting new people who may be a match down the road.
How About We: Also new to the scene, this site encourages users to “go online to get offline.” The concept is simple – members can propose and post date ideas to the online community (how about we…go to a baseball game, a piano bar, etc) and whomever is interested in the offer can respond. Inventing crazy, wild and romantic dates put the fun back into dating and eliminates the monotony and pressure of searching and connecting with others based on personal profiles and pictures.
CHEEK’D: Sweetly named after founder Lori Cheek, this service is for the socially shy or the brave depending how you look at it, It’s similar to sending a secret crush letter or slipping your business card onto someone’s table, only with CHEEK’D you give a code-inscribed calling card to strangers or passersby who catch your eye. Making the first move is a lot easier with these flirtatious notes, and missed connections are avoided if the recipient takes the next step and tries tracking you down on their website.
Jdate.com: This Jewish-centric matchmaking site has been number one in the non-virtual arena for a long time, but now they are organizing trips and events throughout North America that are age, sex and status specific. Speed dating soirees are offered to 40-55+ singles, missions to Israel for members in their 20s and for outdoorsy types living in the Northeast there are popular weekends to Camp Getaway and anyone who can take time off for a week away at Club Med. Last year the company hosted a “Cocktails and Cupcakes” meet and greet at Dylan’s Candy Bar as well as SingleEdition’s “Live Your Life Event” seminars for single women in NYC, which they plan to resume this fall.
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