On the second floor of Café Sommersko in the city centre, a group of thirty singles stand divided by gender in a giddy, apprehensive silence reminiscent of a first school dance. But these are grown men and women, aged roughly 26-34, and this is no dance. It’s the first ever speed dating event from seeqone.com, a service that has made it a point to attract internationals, instead of only Danes.
So far, not so good. When the evening’s host chimed the guests to attention and asked how many in the crowd didn’t speak Danish, only two men – including your dedicated Copenhagen Post intern – raised their hands.
A small handful of participants had originally come from some foreign land, but the most popular place of origin, by far, was “all the way from Jutland”.
Over the course of the two hours, however, which included an introduction, an intermission, and fifteen ‘dates’ lasting about five minutes a piece, the language barrier played as little a role as it does in daily life for non-Danish-speaking Copenhageners, marginally fumbling the flow of only two conversations. And one of them was with a cop, so who’s to say it would have gone well anyway.
In that light, lacking common language simplified the premise. After each date, I asked myself if I really cared whether or not that person understood me. If so, I checked the ‘Yes’ box, indicating interest in another date. A ‘No’, meant I had no interest, and with ‘Friend’, I think everyone took it to mean ‘Whatever’. It seemed obvious that ‘friends’ you meet while speed dating aren’t friends, they’re back-ups.
If you got a ‘match’ – either a ‘Yes’/ ‘Yes’ or ‘Yes’ / ‘Friend’ (for a ‘Friend Match’) combination – a follow up email after the event provided the email address and phone number of your matches to facilitate further meet-ups.
The only drawback of being one of few foreigners was fifteen times answering the question, “What brings you to Copenhagen?” But fortunately the question primed my sales pitch, while other daters were left to make cold calls. By the end of the event, it was hard not to consider myself as a marketable product.
As a result, speed dating is much more exhausting than its slower counterpart. It’s impossible to remember exactly who you’ve met and what they’ve said, what you’ve said and who you’ve said it to. My scorecard had scattered notes about the dates that I used to check the ‘Yes’ box twice, sure I was recalling accurately one of the two dates. But alas, when my results email arrived, I had sadly only achieved back-up status.
If you’re new to Copenhagen, looking to meet people and have an open mind, seeqone.com’s speed dating event is a good place to start. But until more foreigners find their way to the events, expect to have to answer the question: “So, are you at least trying to learn Danish?”