Welcome to the awkward world of speed dating, where an age-old cliche holds true: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That adage rules at Saturday's speed-dating extravaganza, one of fifty such events held across the country by 8MinuteDating in an attempt to set the Guinness World Records collective speed-dating record.
"Scientists say that first-impression judgments are made in nanoseconds," says Kate Lacroix, organizer of the Denver date-a-thon, which will knock the standard eight-minute sessions down to three minutes in order to accommodate the crowd. "It's going to be a lot more hectic, but I think that three minutes is still definitely enough time to get a feel for someone."
Lacroix expects more than sixty people -- all single heterosexuals between the ages of 23 and 38 -- to participate, with each person going on at least fifteen timed dates. "The first two rounds are a little herky-jerky, but after that, people start to get the hang of it and you really hear that buzz, just like being in a bar," she says. "It's a great way to get your feet wet and meet lots of new people."
With over 100,000 unattached customers, 8MinuteDating claims that over 90 percent of the company's speed-dating participants meet someone they want to see again. And how do they know if they've made a love match? After every get-together, attendees indicate their level of interest in each potential partner: second date, friendship or business. If both people feel the same way, 8MinuteDating's automated matching system shares their contact information by e-mail. "It's very discreet and safe," promises Lacroix. "Only if there is a true match will it be pursued."
While Denver goes for the largest single speed-dating event, 8MinuteDating will also try to establish the largest simultaneous speed-dating record. "As far as we know, there is no record for that, either," says Lacroix. "That's why we want to set the bar -- and we want to set it high."