Well, funny you should ask. Read on!
A Quick Overview
On the night of the event, you’ll come to our venue and check in; we use the check-in list to make sure nobody is scheduled on a speed date with someone who couldn’t make it. After everyone (about 100-200 poly people!) has checked in and we’ve gotten up on the microphone to welcome you, we will print out a unique dating schedule for each person, telling them where to go and when. (See an example of what a dating sheet looks like below.)
At this point, the dating can start. In each of a series of rounds your sheet will tell you to go to a specifically numbered table. Your date for that round will also be told to go there. You meet at that table and talk. At the end of a few minutes you say goodbye, part ways, secretly write down whether you would be interested in seeing your date again, and go on to your next table. Some of your dating rounds will be blank – this allows you to get a moment to collect your wits, go purchase a drink, and chat with people also having a break.
At the end of the evening you turn in your sheet and we enter the data into our matching system. If someone you are interested in was also interested in you, it’s a match! We will send you an email listing all of such matches, along with the relevant email addresses.
What will happen at Poly Speed Dating (In much more detail)
Step 0: Register.
This is the part where you fill out the registration form online and answer a bunch of questions as to what you want. Based on that information we are going to be able to make matches and schedule an evening of dates with people that have the potential of being mutually interested based on a few characteristics such as sexual preference and desired relationship style.
Also based on this information, we can determine if you are likely to have many or few dates. If you are at risk of having very few dates, we will email you before the event so you can adjust your registration to be more open, or decide whether to come to the event or not.
Step 1: Check In.
When you show up, there will be a line to check in and get your nametag. You can speed this up by having your Poly Speed Dating ID ready (the thing that looks like FZL1102), but we can look it up if you don’t have it.
Step 2: Mingle.
While people are still arriving the social space will be open for chatting, mingling, ordering drinks, quietly reading books while everything around you is chaos, etc. And we do mean chaos: we typically have between 100 and 200 people at these events. You are welcome to talk to people you do not know, if they seem amenable, but this is not a time to be picking people up. It is definitely not okay to ask people for contact information or anything of that nature.
Step 3: Introduction. We’ll stand up and talk, hopefully not for too long. We’ll repeat the things in this email and remind people how to be respectful and awesome toward each other. Then we will hand out The Date Sheets, which look like this:
And how do you use them? Well, keep reading…
Step 4: Dating.
Your date sheet has 10-15 lines on it, one for each round of dating. During your dating rounds, you’ll go to one of about 100 numbered spots in the room (mostly tables) and meet one or more people to have a speed date with them. Your Date Sheet includes your dates’ nametag codes, so you can tell if you’re talking to the right person.
You’ll have about 6 minutes for each speed date. During that time, we encourage you to tell one another about who you are and ask questions to get to know each other better. The date will end with an announcement from us (something like “Round 6 is ending! Round 6 is ending! Move on to Round 7.”)
Step 4a: Deciding.
After each date, once you and your date are no longer in the same spot, you should take a second to mark either “Yes” or “No” for your date on your Date Sheet. You might also, if you wrote down “Yes”, jot down a note somewhere on why you liked your date so you can remember them the next day. After the event, if you and your date both said “Yes”, we will send you one another’s email addresses. If either of you said “No”, we won’t.
Step 4b: Moving To The Next Date.
Your next round of dating may be at the same table or a different one. If it’s a different one, you’ll have a short time to find the table and meet your next date; if it’s the same table, you get to stay put. We try to keep as many people as possible in the same place, so you may stay put fairly often. Your next round may also be blank, meaning you have a break; everybody will have some rounds without dates so that you can use the restrooms, get food, chill out, or whatever else you want. There will be a designated social area with no speed dates in it; anytime you don’t have a date, you’re welcome to hang out there.
Step 5: Exit.
When all the dating rounds are over, you have to give us your Date Sheet. That’s how we know who you said “Yes” to. We’ll also have an anonymous feedback survey that we hand out near the end of the event; it’s not mandatory, but it is appreciated. Once you turn your date sheet in, you are free to go!
Then sometime soon, hopefully within the next day, you’ll get an email from us listing any matches you had. (You’ll get the email even if you don’t have matches.) It may also list “cruises” (we’ll describe those in a second). The rest is up to you!
Q: What do I do if I have a match?
A: If you want to, we encourage you to email the person and say “Hi! We matched at Poly Speed Dating. Want to get coffee sometime?” It doesn’t have to be coffee, it could be anything, but we do encourage you to keep it low-key at first. You can get to know a lot about someone in 6 minutes… but not that much. Following up with more casual friendly conversation is almost always a better idea than diving into dating with both feet. That said, anything the two of you both enthusiastically agree to is okay. Communicate!
Q: How should I behave on speed dates?
A: This is important and you’ll hear more about it: Do not escalate the date. Here’s what that means. While you’re on a speed date at our event, you should not ask for contact information or try to arrange a future date. You should not say “Are you going to say yes to me? I’m totally saying yes to you.” You should not say “That movie sounds fun, want to go see it?” You should not try to connect on Facebook. There are a lot of things that are appropriate in other social situations that we ask you to avoid entirely here; the goal is to meet people without either of you feeling any pressure to send or respond to signals of interest. If there’s mutual interest, you’ll find out when the email goes out.
This rule applies at the event even when you aren’t on a speed date. Which brings us to…
Q: What if I meet someone in the social area I want to keep talking to?
A: Sometimes people meet at the PSD bar or social area and strike up a conversation. But we ask people not to exchange contact information. So then what? Well, we have a mechanism for that! Your Date Sheet has space at the bottom for “cruising” people. To do that, you put their PSD ID (the letters and numbers on their nametag) in one of the blanks. We will then send that person your email address (but we do not give you their email address). Cruising someone does not give you any information from or about that person unless they decide to write back.
As you might guess from the name, you can also cruise someone you didn’t even meet, but just thought looked cool. But since they don’t get any information about you except your name, the odds of them writing back may not be super high. But hey, you probably helped make someone’s day!
Q: I thought I really clicked with someone but I guess they didn’t say yes. Should I find them on social media and ask why?
A: Please don’t. If you weren’t a mutual match, it’s probably best to let that person be.
Q: There are people I definitely don’t want to match with during the event. What can I do?
A: We can prevent any specific unwanted matches. If you know someone’s PSD ID, that’s easy; email us and we will prevent you from matching them. We can also prevent matches at the event. If you see someone during the Mingling phase who you specifically do not want to match, let us know their nametag ID or their name or whatever you can, and we will make sure the match doesn’t happen.