Imagine a room full 140 people all looking to meet someone that they can connect with. Here’s the caveat, you only have 3 minutes to make that all important first impression before you move on and get to try all over again. That’s speed dating. So what is Sci-Fi Speed Dating? Those 140 people I mentioned? They’re all at Denver Comic Con 2017. Most if not all are in cosplay in one form or another. It’s a surreal event to see Tracer from Overwatch talking to Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast. It happened, I promise. There seems to be a stigma associated with speed dating, that it is somehow a bad thing for people who have a hard time meeting others to get together in a format like this and try and make a connection. Why is that so bad? Answer: It isn’t. It’s actually kind of liberating in this environment. At least that’s what showrunner Ryan Glitch wants people to know.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Ryan shortly after sitting in on the opening of a Sci-Fi Speed Dating event at Denver Comic Con 2017. I’ll get back to what Ryan had to say a little later.
“It works, it’s fun and it can break you out of your shell.” – Ryan Glitch
As a married geek observing this from the outside, I appreciate the struggles we have in modern day society, especially when it comes to relationships. It’s hard to open up to someone new, especially when you don’t know if you have anything in common, ie: Blind Dates…those are the worst, am I right? The thing with Sci-Fi Speed Dating is that there is already a solid base to build off of. Geekdom! You might get to sit directly across from someone who is dressed as your favorite video game character, or comic book super hero. Instantly there is something to break the ice and discuss. Often times, from what I recall, that first interaction is the most awkward. Here, it’s still awkward, cause I mean, most of us are kinda intimidated at speaking to someone new. At least here, if you share the fandom, you can talk about the latest Star Wars teaser or the new Star Trek series set to debut. Dare I say it, in this room, Star Trek & Star Wars can be at peace with one another, maybe even find love! How does it work? Do people really make connections? I’m so glad you asked.
As an attendee, men pay a small admission fee, Ryan states that this is due to the 3 to 1 ratio of male to female con attendees. Women do not need to pay a fee to attend. They simply sign up. From there, the participants enter one of the medium/small panel rooms where there are rows of chairs setup all throughout the room making a serpentine in the room. Attendees are invited to sign up all throughout the day for specific event times by the Sci-Fi Speed Dating barkers in the halls. Then, at the appointed time, the women are seated first. This is to get them settled and to go over the way the event will work. Once all the women are seated, the doors are closed and Ryan introduces himself. That day, Ryan, a heavy set gentleman much like myself, was in Jedi Cosplay with a lightsaber and all. He explains the proceedings to the ladies. Each pair will have 3 minutes to converse and try to make a lasting first impression. At that point, Ryan or one of the Sci-Fi Speed dating staffers will give a count down to which end the men will stand and move over one seat in the serpentine. The women stay seated and the procedure repeats itself until all persons have spent 3 minutes with each other. Also, during this closed session with the women, Ryan and his teams outline special proprietary procedures in place for the safety of the female participants. Without going into any detail, I can say that the procedures are thoughtfully developed with attendee safety as their number one priority and I applaud them for doing so. Once the safety procedures are outlined, the show goes on.
As the men file in, Ryan takes command directing the 70 some odd men to find and take their seats quickly. His voice echoes and would probably do so even without his microphone. Even as Cogsworth was having a helluva time taking his clock body off to be able to sit, Ryan maintained control with jokes and lighthearted, yet pointed banter to keep things moving. He stresses that as the organizer, his rules must be adhered to and that the safety of all is his priority. He repeats the 3 min procedure to everyone in the room before commencing the session. Then, in what I can only describe as an amazingly unplanned yet all at once event, All 140 people begin talking at the word go.
For those of us (yes, us…anyone who knows me is calling BS on me, but truth be told, I just over compensate) with social speaking hang-ups or even one-on-one issues three minutes of speaking to a perfect stranger may seem like a nightmare that lasts an eternity, but watching it all go down, three minutes is over in a flash. As Ryan’s wife comes up to the microphone she begins the countdown at the end of those first and following three minutes. Then, as she calls for people to “rotate” there is an amazing calm that falls through out the room and then it builds right back up to a roar as people stand, move, and sit down to speak to the next con-goer. So, does it work?
Ryan has been operating Sci-Fi Speed Dating for 8 years. He participates in at Denver Comic Con as well as other cons across the country. In that time he knows for a fact that Sci-Fi Speed Dating has resulted in 214 marriages, 44 engagements, and 37 babies! So yes, it can, does, and has worked. It has literally changed peoples lives. Ryan also stresses the safety precautions built into his operations. At no point in time are participants supposed to exchange personal information. Each participant has a number and all personal info is handled by Sci-Fi Speed Dating personnel. It is kept safe and secure and when two people are a match then the company gets them in touch with their own proprietary techniques.
Overall, it seemed like a positive experience. I saw a lot of people talking, smiling, laughing and having fun. The sci-fi/geek community is known for social awkwardness, I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it myself, so to see that there is a place for like minded people to come together gave me all the warm feels. I saw men and women of all shapes, sizes, and fandoms come together and it was pretty damn awesome. Like Ryan said, it’s fun and can break you out of your shell.
Want Sci-Fi Speed Dating to come to a con near you? Tell the con organizers to email Ryan Glitch.