Love is in the air. So this Valentine’s Day, if you feel compelled to start a relationship, consider vetting candidates through Qwik Dates.
How it Started
Finding Mr. Right was exactly what Qwik Dates president Rafael Risemberg had in mind in the mid-1990s, when he was a graduate student specializing in educational psychology. “I was looking for a date,” he says, “and at the time most gay men didn’t have email addresses. So the main ways of meeting guys were by going to bars and clubs and personal ads. With personal ads you didn’t know what the person looks like. And bars and clubs are based only on looks.”
“I came up with a concept that’s face-to-face like a bar, but which involved actual communication.” In 1996 Risemberg launched Date Bait.
Date Bait wasn’t speed dating, per se. Attendees would sit in a circle, with every gay man allotted one minute to say a few words on whatever subject. A mingling period followed, after which participants was asked to jot down the ID numbers of the guys they’d like to get to know better. Risemberg would computer-correlate the matching responses.
At the time Date Bait was so original that Risemberg was granted a U.S. patent for it.
What to Expect
When speed dating did come into being, Risemberg decided to translate the format for gay men. In 2005, Qwik Dates was born.
Qwik Dates bears more than a passing resemblance to Date Bait. There’s still the free mingling period, as well as the matchups. But the first round in these two-hour events is devoted to speed dating, in which each person is assigned to three-minute dates with approximately 15 other attendees. (Between 30 and 50 men show up at each event, held at the Center.)
“It’s a random assignment; it depends on where they’re sitting in the room,” Risemberg says of the preliminary introductions. To keep those pairings from feeling completely disparate, Qwik Dates events are age-specific, focusing on singles in their 20s and 30s as well as men in their 30s and 40s.
Date Bait is on hiatus, and currently Risemberg focuses on Qwik Dates and its cousin Boyfriend Material.
• Phone number: 212-971-1084