Exeo International’s sleek Osaka venue is a smartlyappointed salon on the 33rd floor of the Dai-san building in Umeda. It affords spectacular views over the city, should anyone care to look. But at an Exeo speed-dating party, peering out the window is the last thing on the agenda. Guests come in search of love. Or at least a date. But the odds are in their favor; by the end of the night, more than half of participants will leave with a date.
Men and women begin to shuffle in one-by-one and seat themselves in one of about 80 white, leather-bound chairs that line rows of small, square tables throughout the room. Everyone is meeting for the first time, and many cast furtive glances around the room trying to check out the others. But most are engrossed in filling out the profile card before them, vexed by such questions as “What are you good at?” and “What do you look for in a woman?” The answers may prove pivotal, since the cards are exchanged during the event to provide a talking point.
After a few minutes, the MC calls for the guests to sit down to watch a pre-recorded video explaining the basic do’s and don’ts of the event. The women are in their assigned seats with the men seated opposite them at random. After the video, the MC gives the command and they’re off.
A chorus of three-minute rollercoaster conversations between participants meeting for the very first time ensues, with the sole objective to discover whether or not they fancy each other.
But in a blur it’s over, and a bell rings to signal that all the guys must stand up and move one table to their right to engage in a new conversation with the next woman. Rinse and repeat until all the guys have had a chance to talk to every girl.
To keep track of things, everyone is assigned a number and there is a check sheet for participants to record notes, about each encounter. Juggling all the bits of paper while still attempting to charm the other person appears to be quite a skill, but most of the guys seem to be well-practised at it.
With the mandatory round over, impression cards are completed and handed in to the staff. This is where each guest circles on the card the numbers of those they are interested in. If the card comes back to a guy with a number he circled highlighted in pink, it means he is onto a winner, since the girl has circled him as well. She may have circled every other number in the room too, but hey, it’s a start.
A session of free time ensues where guys can choose four ladies they’d like to sit with and talk to some more. Again, there is only three minutes with each, but it provides a good second chance to ask a few more questions.
Finally, it’s eyes down to complete the all important coupling card. This is where participants write the number(s) of guys or girls they’d most like to have a date with. They make their choices in order of preference (up to six!) and hand in their cards to be counted, cross-referenced, and collated by the professional staff. It’s a very slick operation.
All that remains is for the MC to announce the ‘couples’ whose numbers have aligned and been successfully matched, and applaud them out of the room as they leave arm-in-arm. For the unlucky ones, there is always next time.
As one participant put it, “It’s great! So much fun…it certainly beats going to a bar and wasting all that money on beer to try and find a date!” And with free entry for guys (if you book more than 72 hours in advance), money certainly is no obstacle to finding love. What are you waiting for?