Last October I attended a singles mixer. No one forced me. Not the rabbi at the local temple. Not a well-intentioned grandmother or an overzealous friend. I went because it seemed…cool.
When my invitation arrived—in the form of a millennial-pink Paperless Post—the event was described as a night out for “beautiful people” ages 27 to 42. A friend of a friend who’d tipped me off to it also promised there would be snacks—sliders, grilled cheeses, premium finger food. So I decided I could take a night off from my busy schedule of watching Friday Night Lights while aimlessly scrolling Bumble, searching for my own Tim Riggins.
The mixer took place in a private room at a hip bar, and the rosé was bottomless. An hour and a half in, and about three glasses of wine deep, I stumbled upon a VC bro on crutches and was convinced I was having a true meet-cute. We met at the bar after I almost stepped on his cast and spent the night talking about his college baseball career, as I rambled on about the Red Sox and my deep love for the film Fever Pitch.
At the end of the night, I gave him my number, but he never called. (He hated the Sox, so it could never have worked anyway.) But for Tali Mishael, the mixer was a total success. Mishael, 33, works in branded content and had been on the New York scene long enough to feel, as she put it, “jaded.” When she accepted the invitation, she didn’t expect much. But once she got there, she was surprisingly into it. “When you meet someone on an app, typically within three minutes of the date, you know if you’re into each other. But nobody’s going to be like, ‘I gotta go, I’m not gonna waste my time or money,'” she says. “But at the mixer you could talk to someone for 10 minutes, quickly assess, and leave the conversation. Everyone talks about how the apps are a numbers game, but I really think the numbers game is a room of like-minded people.” Mishael also reveled in the “survival of the fittest” vibe in the room and the fact that there were no pretenses. If you approached someone, it was for one simple reason: You were single and ready to mingle.
So when Mishael saw a tall, dark real-estate developer from across the room—talking to another girl—she knew she had to make her move. At one point another friend of hers tried to come over and get in on the action (anything goes!), to no avail. “You know the rule that you’re not supposed to talk about politics, religion, or sex? Well, we talked politics for the first hour, so we clearly didn’t adhere to that,” says Mishael. The two exchanged numbers, started texting, and six months later decided to move in together. “Meeting like we did heightened the stakes. It was a huge advantage in getting to know each other quicker,” she says.
As the events become more and more popular, the range of people interested in them grows too. Babetown is a pop-up dinner for queer and trans women and nonbinary people that invites guests to come together and make meaningful connections—romantic or otherwise. Founded by Alex Koones, a 29-year-old chef, the series takes place in a different location each month, with a new, kitschy theme. (Think a Harry Potter movie marathon at which “Snape’s magically refilling platter of breakfast sandwiches” was presented or a Babetown wedding complete with a MilkBar cake.) When Tara Chee, 34, who works at a nonprofit in New York, decided to check out the event, it was a BBQ theme, and the group was grilling up a feast outside. Chee soon found herself in a conversation with a woman named Rachel, who was working at Rikers Island at the time. “I joke that Rachel and I bonded over the prison industrial complex,” says Chee. “She started talking to me, and I thought she seemed like a wonderful person, and we connected over our work.” For their first date, the two had dinner and wandered through Washington Square Park. They’ve been together since.