Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors.
On a brisk spring evening Not long ago, two dozen men and women gathered in the back room of a Manhattan bar to engage in a peculiar ritual known as speed dating. They were all young professionals in their twenties, a smattering of Wall Street types and medical students and school teachers, as well as four women who came in a group from the nearby headquarters of Anne Klein Jewelry. The women were all in red or black sweaters and jeans or dark colored pants. The men, with one or two exceptions, were all wearing the Manhattan work uniform of a dark blue shirt and black slacks. At the beginning, they mingled awkwardly, clutching their drinks. And then the coordinator of the evening, a tall, striking woman named Kalen, called the group to order. Each man would have, she said. Six minutes of conversation with each woman. The women would sit for the duration of the evening against the wall on the long, low couches that ring to the room, and the men would rotate from woman to woman moving to the next woman. Whenever Kalen rang a bell, signaling that the six minutes were over, the daters were all given a badge, a number and a short form to complete with the instruction that if they liked someone after six minutes, they should check the box next to his or her number. If the person who's box they checked also checked their box, both daters would be notified of the others email address. Within 24 hours, there was a murmur of anticipation. Several people made a last minute dash to the bathroom. Kalen ring her bell. The men and women took their places, and immediately a surge of conversation filled the room. The men's chairs were far enough away from the women's couches that the two parties had to lean forward, their elbows on their knees. One or two of the women were actually bouncing up and down on the sofa cushions. The man talking to the woman at table number three spilled his beer on her lap at Table one, a brunette named Melissa, desperate to get her date to talk, asked him in quick succession. If you had three wishes, what would they be? Do you have siblings? Do you live alone at another table, a very young and blond man named David asked his date why she signed up for the evening. I'm 26 she replied. Ah, lot of my friends have boyfriends that they have known since high school, and I'm still single, and I'm like, Ah!