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Speed-dating can solve your love problems in a hurry
( 2003-09-18 11:15) (Agencies)

On a sultry Tuesday night in August, at a club on Maoming's notorious bar strip, 'Cupid' Colleen chaperoned 20 lonesome men and women taking part in Shanghai's first speed-dating event.

The purpose of the event was to raise money for Mongolia's Habitat for Humanity project. In return for their donation of 200 RMB, participants received two drinks, free pizza and twenty five-minute dates with a range of possible paramours. that's Shanghai offers two viewpoints on this hot new trend.

Woman's version

Looking for love in Shanghai can be a tiring business, so when the event's organizer offered me the chance to meet twenty young men in just two hours at Amber, I couldn't refuse.

We ladies were made to feel like complete angels. Of course, I was praying there'd be no Mongolians. I love the country folk but I didn't want their dirty yaks dampening the ardour of my new admirers. Thankfully, the bar was yak-free and my nostrils simply savoured the wonderful whiff of testosterone rising up from the herd of fine males prowling round the floor.

We were handed forms to tick for a repeat date and the evening began. My first coupling was with a delightful Chinese man. He spoke of his plans to breed millions of rabbits. Charming, I thought, until I realized the bunnies were destined for banquets. The end-of-date gong couldn't have sounded soon enough.

Next up, was a stream of handsome blokes from Hong Kong and Australia, and a smattering of stammering Brits. The loveliest of all was man on crutches. He had no name badge so I was forced to write: 'The Cripple - yes please' on my form, hoping desperately that Colleen wouldn't take me for a fetish queen who likes to dominate the disabled.

All in all the night was a success. I went home exhausted but looking forward to a call from Colleen, informing me which men had requested further intimacy. No calls yet - maybe there's something wrong with my phone.

Man's version

As one of the world's leading international playboys, naturally I'd heard of the quaint custom of speed-dating, yet I greeted the opportunity to participate with some trepidation. It might be difficult, I thought, to condense my routine of smooth chat, drinks offers and an off-hand mention of a nightcap into five brief minutes. Nevertheless, flicking the fringe from my face and putting in my 'come-to-bed' contact lenses, I accepted the challenge.

The slight guilt I normally feel when trawling Maoming Lu for a rose-seller at dawn disappeared as I entered the bar. Indeed, I felt proud. For once, I could perform a good deed while stroking a group of Shanghai ladies.

As the dating began, we men shuffled anti-clockwise from table to table and I was plunged into a flurry of conversations about parks in Singapore, designer labels and the strain of being single (not something I know much about).

There were some missteps. A couple of butch Aussies fell over the raised black step at the back of the bar. Fools, I thought.

Not surprisingly, the next day four ladies called me for a second date. However, after my speed-dating experience I'm no longer sure one woman a night is enough to satisfy me. Roll on event number two, I say.

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