NEWS

Greeks are slowly embracing a new social trend: The chancy but hopeful world of speed dating

Greece has taken baby steps into the world of speed dating, the popular organized method of getting to know potential friends and lovers through quick meetings lasting just a few minutes. Speed dating turns on the principle that you don’t need a lot of time to figure out if someone is for you. During the last few months, several offices organizing speed dating have opened in Athens and Thessaloniki, including speed-dates.gr, speed-dating.gr, and speed-date.gr. They advertise on the Internet but also through word of mouth, trying to reach people who want to meet a partner but have found it difficult to do so in the wilds of the dating world. It is not an easy business. In Greece, speed dating has not gained the acceptance it has abroad, perhaps because it has neither neighborhood offices where one can have face-to-face contact with organizers before participating nor the security of an already established network. That’s why companies that advertise speed dating here call the event a «party» and say it’s a way to have fun, often inviting participants to bring friends. Young people aren’t going for it so far, but older ones are. Evita Avyerinou, founder of the company Lodestone Fellows, which has organized four speed-dating events in Kolonaki, says the average age of participants is 40 and most of them are university-educated men. «It seems men are more open to this way of getting to know people,» Avyerinou says. «Most of the women who attend are around 50 and divorced.» At the company’s events, about 20 people usually participate, which means each person meets at least 10 new people every week. Personal information such as names and phone numbers are off-limits; each person is identified by a number. Every six minutes, people sit across from each other and talk, then, when time is up, go on to the next person. At the end of the night, they take cards and write what they think of each meeting, characterizing each as possibly blooming into a friendship or relationship or foreseeing it as going nowhere. The company then goes through the cards, looks for potential matchups in the meetings, and give the interested parties each other’s name and phone number. Then, it’s up to the people to contact each other. During the first three meetings, Avyerinou’s group, which charges 40 euros for speed-dating participation, recorded just as many friendship matches as relationship matches. «We know that many called each other the next day and some have even gone out on real dates,» she said.