Recommended: Blind date at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, because “dating apps suck”
I had never had a blind date until Monday night.
I have my best luck when I’m outside, asking another cafe patron what book they’re reading, or complimenting someone’s dress in a bar. I like talking to strangers. So when I saw the “Blind Date Experience” included in this year’s Fringe Festival lineup, I was seduced.
The festival, organized by the nonprofit FringeArts, is a four-week celebration featuring music, dance, theater, comedy and just about everything in between at venues across Philadelphia. It’s been a hub for avant-garde creators and curious crowds since its founding in 1997, evolving into the typical place where you can encounter both a anguished clown soliloquy and one surreal rock opera.
The blind date experience is new this year, part of the cannonball partywhich is kind of a party offering in a shared party,”not-necessarily-romanticexperiences. For $35, patrons get entry, prepared discussion questions, and a pair of drink tickets.
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How blind is this blind date? Very. You don’t answer any questions about sexual orientation, age, or gender — and you don’t send any dating app-style biographies. The only choice you have is which show you attend.
Gabrielle Revlock, choreographer with Almanac Dance Circus Theater, said she and other artists came up with the idea at a party and ran with it. ‘Dating’ doesn’t have to be about finding a romantic or sexual partner, she said, so audience members can go with new friends, show buddies or even business partners. potentials.
“It’s nice to go to a show with someone, and the downsides are very low. Like, is that a bit boring? Everything will be fine,” Revlock told Billy Penn.
A very sweet meeting
I have chosen “The squid and the octopus,” a puppet play about the smartest cephalopods in the ocean.
When Monday night rolled around, I was pretty pumped. I put on jeans and a top “going out” and arrived about 20 minutes before the show. My date was already there, waiting under the fairy lights of the Mass Garden in Norris Square with a paper bag full of blind date treats.
We swapped names – Simon, met Sammy – grabbed a table and dug. The pre-show questions prompted us to talk about our recent daydreams (buying a house for him, scuba diving for me) and current curiosities. We landed on a conversation about “the last time you taught someone something”, and Simon told me that he recently led a group exercise in his writing group.
A writing group! I write! The conversation took off like a rocket just as we were ushered into the theater, but I was glad we made it to the curtain without chatter. We didn’t quite reach the recommended part where you play “rock, paper scissors” and the winner chooses the seats, so we sat in the second row. What followed was a somewhat informative presentation on marine life.
During the shellfish-inspired show, I thought back to my first impressions of Simon. I left in the evening open to any kind of connection with any kind of person. He seemed caring and kind and made me laugh several times. But I can usually tell within minutes if there’s going to be a romantic spark with someone. Until now, I was getting friendship vibes.
After the show, we cashed in our drink tickets (pinot noir for me, a lager for him) and sifted through goody bags, which had provided us with coupons for the bar, a Cannonball brochure, two pieces of chocolate , hand sanitizer – and some suggested post-show reflection questions. We never got there. Instead, we:
- Talked about the show for 2 whole minutes and decided we were both pretty lukewarm
- I picked up the conversation on Simon’s writing group, which I invited myself to join
- I learned that we both like to write letters and that we have real pen pals
- Finally gave the lean on our jobs (Simon works for the American Philosophical Society). At this point, I confessed to writing this article. He was pretty cool with that!
- Travel Stories Swapped – Simon has traveled to 22 countries and I’ve walked 100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail
- I exchanged numbers and agreed to be friends
We said goodbye and agreed on plans to reconnect with the writing group.
His expectations for the blind date experience were similar to mine: a romantic relationship or friendship would be welcome, but more importantly he wanted someone to see a show with.
“I never expected to meet the love of my life at Fringe Fest,” he said in an interview with Billy Penn the next day. “The bangs are weird. You need to be open to new experiences if you go to a Fringe show and the same goes for meeting a new person.
I left feeling grateful to have met someone so warm, engaging and genuine.
The “a bit useless” applications
While queuing for the restrooms, I overheard a group of people talking about the concept of blind dates, so I came with my notebook.
Ava Haitz, 25, had signed up but was matched with her roommate. They were both a bit disappointed, having hoped to meet a potential boo.
“Everyone is fed up with apps,” Haitz said. “They’re a bit dumb. I moved on.”
Haitz and his friends saw a lot of promise in the idea of meeting someone at Fringe, who they believe appeals to a certain type of Philadelphian.
“You don’t come from nowhere, you already have common ground,” said 23-year-old Saloua Amaura.
They recommended the Cannonball event creator add a few questions for blind ticket buyers and make logical matches based on age, gender preference, and level of interest in a relationship. in love. The organizers said the blind date experience is still in development and they may make changes in the future.
As for me, I thought it was delicious – and texted Simon when I got home to tell him. He has two other experiences already booked.
“That damn beats a dating app,” he said after we met.
So, should you go on a blind date at the Fringe? I say yes. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, flirtatious or friendly, outgoing or reserved, this is a great opportunity to learn something about another human, while having a shared experience of some of the most provocative arts Philly has to offer. .
Really, what have you got to lose?
There are 20 more chances to see a Fringe show with a stranger. You can find them here.