Finding romance in the Wharf

By Rob Virtue on November 22, 2011 4:28 PM |

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Gone are the days when a gentleman would mark a lady's dance card and sweep her off her feet.

With professional people working longer hours than ever, how do you meet that significant other when all your friends are coupled up and you spend half your life in the office?

Professional matchmaker Michele Yianni thinks she has the answer. Single herself, and a franchisee in Single Scene Dating, she is bringing speed dating to Canary Wharf.

She said: "Dating in your 20s and 30s is difficult. Where do you go to meet people?

"You can't go to a club if you are looking for a serious partner - there is only one reason people go to clubs and that is for a bit of fun. At the gym you need to have the confidence to approach someone.

"You can go to a bar but again you need to be confident. Men fear rejection just as much as women. You might make eye contact but not necessarily make a move. With speed dating you are there specifically to meet people. It breaks the ice."

Michele runs business-to-business networking events in Canary Wharf and identified the area as a prime location for singles' nights.

She believes the format is not dissimilar and is looking forward to sprinkling a little romance around the estate.

She said: "I see people pouring out of the Tube, all following the same pattern every day. People in Canary Wharf follow the same routine and often don't even get out of the office for lunch. They are working long hours in fast-paced environments and not making time to meet people.

"People often meet partners at work but I don't like to mix business with pleasure. You might have a great relationship but if it all goes wrong you still have to work with them.

"I have had friends who have had to move jobs because a work relationship hasn't lasted."

Online dating has its place but Michele believes you can't beat meeting someone face-to-face from the start. She said the internet could offer more opportunities for deception.

She said: "I've heard horror stories about men going as far as renting an apartment to make it look like they are a bachelor.

"In person you have to be up-front. You can often hear in a person's voice if they are not genuine. You need to meet somebody, then you know instantly if you are going to click."

The speed dating format is simple with a maximum of 20 men and 20 women at each event, each with an individual number. The women stay seated and the men move around.

Everyone has a sheet of paper and will mark down the number of those they would like to see again. At the end of the session people are encouraged to mingle in the bar.

The next day Michele will text if you have a match and it is then up to the individual to take action.

It's not always happily ever after, of course. Michele said: "We have had a few tears but that has only been when people aren't ready to date after something like a divorce.

"You will know when the time is right. Men who struggle to say a word all night are often not ready. Sometimes people have just lost that confidence and forget other people will like them for who they are. The important thing to remember is everyone is in the same boat."

Single Scene Dating organises a number of singles' opportunities including pub walks, museum visits, dinner dances and casino nights.

At the moment the nights just cater for heterosexual singletons but Michele is keen to introduce same sex evenings.

Single Scene Dating is launching at Henry's West India Quay with an over-30s night on November 26 and there will be two events a month in the new year.

Tickets are £30 including a voucher for two drinks. December 17 is the Christmas party for over 25s.

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