In search of love 295ft in the air...
Ascending into the smog, the cabin had an air of nervousness and excitement. I was one of six strangers led 295ft above London on new-fangled speed dating venture ‘Love is in the Air’, confined to my surroundings as if still on the evening’s commute. I was on board the Emirates Airline.
The event, heralded the “first of its kind” by Tracey Hill, organiser and owner of matchmaking service Simplicity3, began at the North Greenwich terminal last Wednesday. We gathered in dribs and drabs, were put into groups, and awaited our flights.
At 7.30 we stepped on-board with our guide; looks varied amongst occupants between bewilderment and curiosity.
“I’m scared of heights”, said one, but whether she was at ease with everything else remained unclear. There was a fair amount of giggling.
Riding to the Royal Docks, we were partnered up and instructed to find out about one another while admiring the views, before being shimmied along and doing it all again.
I’d never done real-life dating before. Sat on a train flicking through Tinder doesn’t compare – still photographs and quirky blurbs seem stiflingly boring, if wholly less time-consuming, from the real deal. But in a world where screens are perpetual, this was a welcome excursion into the unknown.
Dating extraordinaire Tracey is also a self-proclaimed aviation enthusiast and thought the adventure would be rewarding. She told me she wants to help others find love – suggesting it tedious that every day we sit amid would-be suitors while travelling, yet fail to ignite any conversation or make the most of our occurring company.
“I often see a guy looking at a girl or a woman give someone the eye,” she told me, “and I just want to grab them and bring them together.
“This is about putting people outside their comfort zone and giving them some excitement – it’s a very different way of dating.”
Indeed it is. Tracey’s motives are admirable and as we turned round to return to Greenwich, small talk quickly became more relaxed chatter as we paired up for a quiz – dinner, champagne, and a private flight at stake. If many remained guarded, nobody hid their competitive edge and Tracey’s aims started to show promise.
Names forgotten but ice broken, we were then taken to the O2 Arena for drinks and a bag of dating essentials – aftershave, mouthwash, a small bottle of bubbly and just about everything else you might require, lucky or not-so.
Naturally, daters sorted themselves into couples and groups. I overhead everything from, “so, what do you do?” to “I saw Justin Timberlake here last night – I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing”. Drifting towards the bar, the mood was flat in places, while in others there was an amicable buzz.
Overall I imagine what would have been an otherwise mundane Thursday evening for many had turned into something worthwhile. Some even arranged second dates, an evident measure of success.
Although Tracey said she intends to tweak and mould to improve the experience, she was pleased with her pilot and plans to hold another in June.
“Like with everything you live and learn – but the main thing is people enjoyed themselves,” she told me.
The test run, then, has prompted a return ticket. Traditional and online dating has its place – as, it seems, does sitting hundreds of feet above south-east London, on public transport. If nothing else, nobody was playing on their phones.
Have you had an interesting dating experience?
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By the way, I'm not single. I was just testing it all out.