Listen up, singles of Bushwick!
Stop swiping and put your phones down because Kiss & Tell: Techno Speed Dating has landed. If my social circle is any indication, the words ‘Techno Speed Dating’ sound like a nightmare scenario to half of you and the other half practically moved to Brooklyn for events like this. I needed to see for myself what Techno Speed Dating was about, so on Thursday October 18 I put on my party earrings and showed up at Bossa Nova Civic Club at 8 p.m. for the second event to date.
A crowd of about 40 people was mingling around the bar when I walked in, a positive sign relative to the interrogation-like table and chairs set up that comes to mind at the thought of speed dating.
Seze Devres, the organizer and host of TSD, found me by the bar as I was ordering a very reasonably priced $4 whisky (they know their audience). Devres has a mane of fuschia hair, a warm smile and personality to match. The event cover is $9 and as the host, she makes sure to check everyone in personally, asking guests whether they’re seeking men, women, or both, and printing their preference in the corner of their name tag.
Techno Speed Dating is new territory for the native New Yorker, but as a photographer by trade and creator of Brooklyn’s Kiss & Tell parties, which she’s been running since 2005, Devres is a vet of the Brooklyn nightlife and electronic scene. During her 10-year relationship with Bryan Kasenic, co-founder of The Bunker, she assumed the role of official party host of the venue. The two parted ways almost three years ago, and since stepping back into the single life, she’s found herself feeling like many of us have – thoroughly unimpressed with the dating landscape and swipe-to-play culture.
She got the idea for TSD after hosting Kiss & Tell: First Date where guests had to bring a first date or new friend to the party (one of her many themes from over the years).
“I prefer to meet people in person. I feel like we’ve been interacting one-on-one and courting one-on-one since the beginning of time and I just feel like these dating apps are not a healthy way to interact with people or to look for a potential mate,” she said. “It’s a really impersonal way to interact with people that you don’t even know. I wanted to change that and make a safe space for people that are single to interact and be in a bar where you can literally walk up to anyone and it’s okay.”
In the tight space around the Bossa bar, standing near shoulder-to-shoulder with the participating crowd made scouting out the next conversation challenging at times, but it also negated any awkwardness of having to approach someone from across the room. Every five minutes the co-host sounds a gong, signifying the end of the current conversation and time to scope out your next date.
Over the six or seven dates I went on throughout the night, the one piece of feedback that kept resurfacing was people’s surprise at the lack of techno. Devres agrees that the soundtrack (spun by DJ SPRKLBB) doesn’t necessarily stick to the genre.
“I told him to pretend like it’s wedding cocktail music,” she joked and admitted that calling it Techno Speed Dating was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek move on her part.
“I just want to get all our friends together who are interested in more obscure music, because it can be hard to meet people with similar music taste, I found. I was using [techno] as a way to encompass the “community of people that are interested in dance music,” she said.
Though techno wasn’t necessarily playing during the dating part of the event, it kicked in almost as soon as the after party started.
As a total techno novice myself (I’m more of a dub and grime kind of girl), I didn’t have a lot to contribute to the techno dialogue, but that didn’t inhibit any of the lovely conversations I had throughout the night. The crowd was mostly Brooklyn-based with Harlem, the Upper West Side, and New Jersey representation, along with one legendary Irishman who rolled up on his solo vacation to NYC.
By the time speed dating wrapped up at 10pm, over 60 people had participated throughout the night. Devres noted that there were more straight women at the second event versus more queer and straight men at the first.
“I guess that’s the luck of the draw,” she said. While she acknowledges that it might one day make sense to separate future TSD parties based on sexual preference (she’s hoping to draw more of a queer crowd to forthcoming events), she plans on keeping them mixed for the time being.
I didn’t meet the love of my life at this month’s TSD, but I did get a kick out it of it. If you’re single and into electronic music, take a chance at the next event at Bossa Nova on November 15th. Don’t let a squad of relationship-bound friends stop you either – I was one of many to make an appearance by myself and Devres is there to have your back.
“I just want people to come. I know it’s very intimidating to go out and do something like this. I just want people to feel comfortable and know that everyone is in the same boat. That’s what makes it really special; we’re all there, we’re all single, we’re all taking a chance and meeting strangers and that can be really intimidating but I try to create a comfortable atmosphere,” she said.
Photos courtesy of Seze