NYC singles, fed up with apps, are turning back to speed dating

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On a gusty January night, 36 singles in their 20s and 30s braved high winds, pouring rain and a severe weather advisory to participate in New York’s hottest singles trend: speed dating.

Young professionals fed up with swiping and ghosting are turning to IRL meet-ups for a more organic experience.

“Ever since the dating app revolution, the hype has been around apps. But now the market is just balancing out,” organizer Kevin Wang, 28, told The Post. “There’s a market for this. People are tired of swiping.”

The Malt House, a Thompson Street pub frequented by New York University students and young professionals, was abuzz with laughter, high hopes and a little bit of nervous energy.

A bartender at the Malt House bar says speed-dating events are good for business. Stephen Yang

Margaux Jacobs, a 28-year-old teacher living on the Upper East Side, decided she needed to be “a bit more intentional this year” about her romantic life, which she sums up as “a lot of apps, a lot of losers.”

Jacobs has been trying to meet people in person, but with little success. Last year she asked two men on the street for their numbers, but neither panned out. 

She heard about Amiccio speed dating on Reddit while searching for alternatives to dating apps in New York City.

“I figured I’d give it a chance because it can’t be any worse than what’s out there right now on the apps. And if nothing else, it’s a little bit of my time one night,” she told The Post.

The event was geared toward daters in their 20s and 30s. Stephen Yang

This was Joshua Cordero’s third event. Although he hasn’t had a second date yet, he prefers it to online dating.

Repeat customers are common, according to Kevin, who estimates that roughly half of male daters and a third of female daters come to more than one event.

“I just like the face-to-face interaction,” Cordero, a 30-year-old marketer from Brooklyn, said. “You’re getting a sense of someone’s actual energy and vibe and mannerisms — like a more complete picture of who someone is, versus a digital profile.”

Twenty-five singles showed up to the event in the Greenwich Village despite heavy rain. Stephen Yang

The event consisted of 10 rounds of five-minute “dates,” after which singles would indicate whether or not they’re interested via a card. Organizers later notify them of any matches.

Wang, who works in tech and marketing, started Amiccio Events as a side hustle when he recognized New Yorkers’ hunger to meet in person post-pandemic.

“In-person events save you time and help you cut through the BS of dating apps,” he said.

The group organizes speed dating, singles bars, professional networking events and social dance classes. So far, they’ve thrown more than 100 speed dating events — and demand is growing.

Kevin Wong and Katie See of Amiccio Events co-hosted the event. Stephen Yang

“It helps people save time,” Wang said. “You get an immediate vibe of whether you’re going to click with someone when you’re face-to-face versus, with online dating, you could… think you have great chemistry but when you meet up, you instantly realize there’s nothing.”

Some participants gave speed dating a swing because they find meeting people organically to be tough — especially in New York.

Deirdre Fay, a health and safety professional, moved to the East Village from Boston in November and decided to try speed dating after finding New York to be too fast-paced and anonymous to meet people out and about.

Participants filled out cards indicating their interest in fellow daters. Stephen Yang

“New York is far more challenging,” Fay, 25, told The Post. “Boston was a smaller community, so you’d see the same people at bars all the time. It was easier to say, ‘I’ve seen you here before’ — that typical line.”

Some male daters also reported trepidation about approaching women in-person. 

For one anonymous single, a 26-year-old working in cybersecurity, online dating has been difficult.

“If you use dating apps, you need to be really good at selfies, especially if you’re a guy,” he said. “I don’t have any good photos, so I do really, really terribly on dating apps. I get very few likes, and I think most guys get very few likes.”

The event consisted of 10 rounds of five-minute conversations. Stephen Yang

But fear of being “the creepy guy” makes approaching women in real life difficult — which is why he’d rather speed date than walk up to a stranger.

“It’s scary to just approach people because you don’t want to be perceived as creepy,” he said. “A lot of guys will feel very nervous approaching someone in person because they’ll feel like maybe it’s sexual harassment to ask somebody if they’re single.”

He reported greater ease striking up conversations in the speed-dating context, where he knows everyone is there for the same reasons.

After 10 high-speed rounds, drinks and mingling were encouraged.

Amiccio Events has hosted over 100 speed dating events in New York City. Stephen Yang

Janae Price, a 29-year-old video producer from Jersey City, had a positive review: “I think these types of events can be a little awkward when you don’t mesh right away, but my experience tonight was good. It was nice.”

She said yes to three of the 10 men that she met, though in hindsight she isn’t sure whether she would have pursued them in a different context.

“Sometimes at work you see a guy and you’re like, ‘Is he hot, or is he … hot for lack of options?’ And sometimes you just pick the best person in the moment,” she explained with a laugh. “So, upon reflection, I wonder if those three yeses were actual yeses.”

Participants were encouraged to mingle at the bar before and after the event. Stephen Yang

Regardless, she’s glad she made connections.

“It opened my mind,” Price said. “I 100% think that I’m more willing to give some of those yeses chances than I would be if I had seen them on an app. When you get to talk to someone face to face, you’re like, ‘Oh, we’re actually vibing,’ but if I just saw them but didn’t talk to them, I would probably just say no.”

Not everyone was as optimistic — including one Astoria resident who tried speed dating because she was fed up with men lying about their heights on dating apps.

“I think I’ve been taller than everyone so far,” lamented the five-foot-nine woman, who asked to withhold her name.

Event hosts notify participants of any matches the following day. Stephen Yang

The following day, Kevin notified attendees by email if there was mutual interest. Eighteen couples out of the group of 36 singles matched. One dater even had four. But three women and one man said no to everyone.

Wang hopes that Amiccio starts a revolution — and can make ditching dating apps in favor of in-person connection trendy again.

“There is starting to be a cultural shift in how people think of how they can date,” Wang said. “And maybe we’ll play a role in changing that perception.”

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