We have all seen it in the movies, you know where a dozen or so men and women sit across from one another and rotate seats as the bell tolls, giving them a chance to meet a plethora of potential suitors in an efficient matter of minutes. This is speed dating: A new era in matchmaking that has now arrived on Turkish soil.
I had the opportunity to catch up with the pioneer of speed dating in Istanbul and her First Sight Date organization, which is now making romantic and friend connections all over the country.
First Sight Date is a speed dating organization based in Istanbul organized by Yasemen Aydın, a self-described "entrepreneur, technology geek and dog lover," who lived in the States for a good decade. "I went to many speed dating events to meet with locals and have a fun night. Back then there was no tinder and happen apps, only okcupid. But as you know speed dating is very casual in the States, so many people find it quite fun and super easy to meet new people, not only for dating purposes but also for friendships," she says.
Started in the spring of last year, First Sight Date has already made 5,842 matches 42 couples and a couple to wed. In their 'İlk Tanışma' events, 15 men and 15 women of similar age groups are sat across from each other in four-minute intervals after which they rotate seats to meet all of the members of the opposite sex in the group. But what is most significant about First Sight Date is that they meticulously pick out potential matches and all of their participants speak English, making this the perfect adventure for any an expat.
I asked Yasemen if there were ever any foreigners who came to her speed dating events and she exclaimed, "We have hosted so many foreigners, expats and international students! Some of the professions of our attendees are medicine, engineering, entrepreneurship, teaching, marketing, advertising, law and design and this is just what I can remember now but everyone who attends speak English," she assured.
First Sight Date's next events will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. for those 32 and over in Istanbul. On Wednesday, Jan. 18, Yasemen and her team head to Izmir for a speed dating event at 8 p.m. for those aged 24 to 32 and on Friday Jan. 20, there will be another speed dating event for those aged 24 to 32 starting at 8 p.m. in Istanbul's Karaköy neighborhood.
As is standard practice, the venues where the events are held are only disclosed at the last minute and only to those attending. "We try to pick places that are cozy and close to the public transportation because many people come after work. We usually pick jazz clubs or coffee shops for the events and we close down the venue, because people need their privacy," Yasemen explains. "We also ask our attendees to not reveal the name of the venue to their friends, and taking pictures are forbidden."
To attend their events, which cost TL 70 including entrance to their monthly social gathering events, visit their Facebook page or website www.firstsightdate.net.