As a relationship counselor (among other things that a pastor - even a retired pastor - has to do), I've long been a very vocal critic of the 'dating game' (or the 'meat market', as some have called it). I regard much of the modern boy-meets-girl scene (or vice versa) as extremely unhealthy, not very moral (to put it mildly), and a recipe for exploitation.
That's why I'm delighted to read about Playdate.
Lynne Lucas is taking herself off the meat market. Monique Brown is sick of having to look cute all the time. And Scott Hayes is searching for his inner child.
Imari Havard, co-founder of PlayDate, dances with some participants on the dance floor.
It's Saturday night at PlayDate in Atlanta, Georgia, where 400 adults have gathered to play games, drink and socialize.
"It's not your usual bar scene where I look good, you look good, I'm scared to talk to you," Hayes says as he scans a giant Jenga tower for the right block to pull. "You'll talk to anyone when you're playing games, because you're trying to beat them."
Next to Hayes, Brown watches a rambunctious game of Pictionary while a twosome fights it out with Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots nearby. Across the room, Lucas joins her friends in a game of Trouble. And on the dance floor, Imari Havard is hula-hooping with some ladies.
Havard is the co-founder of Timeless Entertainment Concepts, host of PlayDate, with Ryan Hill and Ronald Gaither.
Timeless' mission is clear: provide a fun alternative to the typical nightlife scene for an entrance fee of just $10 per person. In other words, if you're looking for love in all the wrong places, try a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.
. . .
"To be able to play games again and not be an adult for one night, it's kind of fun," [Alisha] says. "It's not the typical, uneasy having to go up to someone you don't know, because everyone has on these silly nametags, and [the games] are like an icebreaker."
Todd Jones agrees. A PlayDate veteran, Jones has been coming to the events since they started three years ago. He's even attended launches in other cities and says the atmosphere is the same everywhere.
"When you go to a club, people will stand around. They're very defensive," Jones says. "But here, you really have to intermingle."
Gesturing to the six women he's playing Uno with, Jones says he doesn't come to PlayDate looking to hook up. "I just come here really to have a good time. If something happens after that, then, fine."
Havard says that's the basis of his company, Timeless, which also offers Paint By Numbers and Call Me UP. Paint By Numbers lets people socialize while painting a 100-square-foot mural. Call Me UP is a new interactive take on a stand-up comedy club.
"You go to a nightclub, a lot of times, that scene is the same," Havard says. "It's too loud; it's too dark; it's too smoky. A lot of people have on their nightclub personas, so you don't get to know real people. What we've found with PlayDate is, it lets people let their guard down and be themselves. It's romantic, in a sense, because you begin to connect like you did when you were younger."
There's more at the link.
I find this very encouraging. I think one's far more likely to have fun, and meet someone compatible, in a relaxed, informal, relatively unstressed setting like this. Full marks to Messrs. Havard, Hill and Gaither for a great idea!