Frequently Asked Questions



What is Speed Dating?

Speed Dating is a social event where people meet a number of potential dating partners. During the evening you will rotate though several “dates” of about 5 minutes each. After each date you check off whether or not you are interested in romantically pursuing that person any further. Your choices are collected at the end of the night and if you and your date both were interested, your information will be exchanged via email within the next few days.

How does Poly Speed Dating work?

Poly Speed Dating originated in San Francisco, where the team there wrote a computer program to generate matched lists of dates after attendees submitted their gender, their preferred genders and other information. When you register, you'll be asked to fill out a form, which will be used to print out a 'date sheet' for you on the night: this is a list that will match you up with other people and tell you where to go (the tables will be numbered), when, and who you'll meet for short dates.

What will the evening look like?

When you arrive, we'll meet you at the check-in table and ask for your first name. We will give you a name tag with your public name and your ID number. After you check in there will be some social time and some announcements, and then a short period of guided 'speed friending' - a lower-pressure form speed dating using tables of four of five people, to help warm up and break the ice. Next, we'll hand out your personalised date sheets, which will tell you which table to go to, when, and who you will be meeting there. Each date round lasts 5 to 7 minutes - we'll announce when each round ends, and there'll be a couple of breaks throughout the evening as well. The evening will round off with some informal social time, and we'll ask you to hand in your completed date sheet so we can see who you checked off as interesting, and then email your matches to you within the next couple of days.

Who runs this thing?

Alex and Ludi have been involved in organising bi and poly events for a couple of years now. Alex ran Oxford Bifest 2010, 2011 and 2012 and Ludi ran OpenCon UK 2011.
Both Alex and Ludi can usually be found running a workshop or five at BiCon, PolyDay, OpenCon and various Bifests. They're doing this as unpaid volunteers, and know they are also coming to this with loads of privilege: for example, they're both cisgender and non-disabled. They acknowledge that there's a lot of marginalisation they don't know about and won't notice, and ask that you be patient, tell them where they've made mistakes, and bear with them while they try and make Poly Speed Dating as awesome as possible. They very much welcome constructive feedback!

Gender and Sexuality

How will this speed dating evening deal with varying sexual preferences?

Poly Speed Dating is queer-inclusive! Everyone will check off which genders they are interested in, and also check off their own gender(s). The speed dating computer program will create a sequence of dates that matches each person with their preferences as best we can.

I am interested in dating more than one gender - will I get dates with people of more than one gender?

Yes, rounds are divided by the computer so that certain rounds prioritise same-gender matches and others prioritise other-gender matches.This ensures that bisexuals get close to an equal mix of the genders they are looking for.

How will I fare as a straight man?

You'll be fine - we close registration to oversubscribed demographics (such as straight men) to ensure the event continues to have a good mix. Bear in mind that a straight man may not get dates for every round, as we expect that many women who attend will be bisexual (this is what the SF team have found), so they'd be dating each other for half the rounds. There'll be a chillout space for socialising throughout the night, which people can use between dates.

How do you define gender?

We recognise that gender identity is really complex, but we're limited by the programming: at the moment, we're using three gender checkboxes, female, male and non-binary-gendered/genderqueer. We understand this still leaves some people out, and welcome your suggestions!
Transgender people are absolutely welcome at Poly Speed Dating as their identified gender: we're defining trans women as women, and trans men as men (unless of course they'd like to tick another box!)
This means that anyone who (for example) professes an interest in women will be paired with both cisgender and transgender women for their dates. We recognise that some people may have a problem with the idea that they'd be paired with transgender people, and we suggest that PSD may not be for them! London has a large and thriving transgender poly community, and it's important to us as organisers to treat them well.
Lastly, we note that the SF team began as we have, by using three gender checkboxes, but they have recently decided to distinguish between trans and cis people and use five categories (trans woman, cis woman, trans man, cis man, non-binary-gendered/genderqueer) upon the request of some transgender people who were tired of dating people who clearly didn't want to date them. We're looking forward to seeing how this system plays out here, and are ready to change our format based on feedback.

Dating as groups

We'd like to date as a couple or a group (a triad, quad etc.) - can we do that?

Yes! A group of people are very welcome to come and date other groups and individuals - just register as usual and state your preferences on the form!

Can our group just date other groups?

Probably not - in San Francisco they've found they don't get enough groups to set up an evening of dates just among themselves. We'll see what the numbers are like though: this isn't something we can concretely predict just yet!

My partner(s) and I want to date both as individuals and as a group. Can we?

Sorry - not just yet, the computer can't handle that! If this evening goes well, we'll be running another round of Poly Speed Dating in around six months' time, and then regularly: so you could always alternate.


What ages do you expect?

We'll update this after the first event! In SF, they've had people ranging from late teens to late 60s, and we estimate that UK events such as PolyDay and OpenCon have had a mix from early 20s to late 50s.

How many dates will I have?

The number of dates ranges from 4 to 14; it will simply depend on who comes to PSD and how many people (or groups) you can be paired with. Remember that the more flexible you are the more people you will match with!

What if I meet someone I like who I didn’t get a date with?

There is lots of social time at the PSD events and chances are you will get to meet some really cool people. If you meet someone that you like but didn’t get a date with them there is hope! At the bottom of your date sheet there is a “cruising” section. If you write their ID number down we will send them your name and email address. They don’t have to write down yours, and there is no match required. We encourage you to cruise people this way since it removes the awkward social aspects of in-person come-ons. Be shy, and use our system!

What if no one picks me?

After each round you will mark “yes” on your date sheet if you liked your date and want to share your information with them. If you and your date both check yes, we will exchange your info via email. However, sometimes your special someone or someones just did not show up to PSD this time. You can always try again!

What if I cancel?

If you cancel at least one day (24 hours) before the event then we will refund half your registration fee. Alternatively, you can elect to use the full amount for future PSD events. If you cancel with less than one day's notice, or are a no-show, then you forfeit your entire fee.

What if I have mobility issues?

We understand that not everyone can make the dash between tables after each round. As long as you let us know before the event starts we can make sure you change tables as few times as possible. We want you to have a good time at our events, so let us know if there is anything we can do to make your night better.

How are you financing this?

Doggetts cost us £200 for the evening, and there's capacity for up to 100 people. We're hoping to break even using ticket sales. No-one is being paid to run Poly Speed Dating: we're volunteers.

Why only London and the Home Counties?

The actual distance is London + 2 counties and we only did it this far because one of our organisers lives in Oxfordshire. We hope that shows our sincerity when we say we had no idea Poly Speed Dating would be this popular so far afield. Thank you so much for being so awesome, everyone!
Also, we're really interested in helping set up multiple events around the country. We've already heard discussions of an event in Manchester and there's definitely demand in the west around Bristol or Birmingham. We'll be having a discussion on the night with attendees from "Somewhere Else" who would be interested in running a Poly Speed Dating event nearer to themselves.


What's your venue like? How's the accessibility?

Doggetts, London

Doggetts has previously been used to run London Bifest, and we've booked it for Poly Speed Dating because it is central, private, reasonably priced and accessible. Directions from Southwark Tube Station can be found here.
Our room holds up to 80 people and has its own bar, serving drinks and pub food (at pub prices) all evening. The lift is around 1mx1m, and made to hold up to six people: we estimate that manual wheelchairs and standard powerchairs will fit in easily, while larger powerchairs may find it more difficult. There is a wheelchair-accessible toilet on the ground floor beside the lift, which does not have a key: so it doubles as a gender-neutral toilet. You can phone Doggetts directly to ask questions, or if you have problems on the night, on 020 7633 9081.
There is a small step into the room. We hope to have a ramp available on the night. However, please be aware of this on the night in case we can't source one.
We'd love to be as accessible as possible! Our venue wishlist includes somewhere that is wheelchair accessible, cheap, central, serves varied food, easy to get to, located in a safe, well-lit area, has a gender-neutral loo, has a seperate quiet area, has wi-fi, and a host of other factors that we don't know about yet! Doggetts is the best we've found so far - if you know of a better venue, we'd absolutely love your suggestions!

The Slug and Lettuce, Didsbury, Manchester

The ground floor is wheelchair accessible, but the function room is up 23 steps with two rest points. There are two disabled parking bays in the car park. Food is served at reasonable prices until 9PM. There's a cash machine which charges on site, with other ATM's in the nearby area. The bar also accepts cards.