In an overbuilt, overcrowded and perpetually anonymous megalopolis like New York City, it is especially tough to find somebody that really loves you. But work is a four letter word—and so is love. So, instead of sitting around, wondering why we give valuable time to people who don’t care if we live or die, sometimes us Brooklynites have to bite the bullet and enter into the world of dating—and thanks to comedian Dave Hill, local lovers can go on ten or twelve or fifteen mini-dates in one night at the Black Rabbit Bar’s monthly Smiths-themed speed dating event, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, the fourth installment of which got on last Wednesday night.
“See, speed dating I did not create. A Smiths night I did not create. But putting them together, well that’s all me,” said Hill, who hosts the event, explaining why he chose the Smiths—the 1980s English rock band whose notoriously asexual front man Steven Patrick Morrissey launched them into cult super-status with his melancholy and often nonsensical lyrics—for the evening’s theme and complete soundtrack. While it may seem like an ironic move, like so many North Brooklyn trends—mustaches, short-shorts, oversized spectacles—Hill insists that really, Smiths speed dating is what it is: a night for dating, and for listening to the Smiths.
“Some people think it’s ironic but I’m really not presenting it that way,” Hill continued. “People come out who wouldn’t normally go to speed dating, and they generally have a sense of humor about it but people are showing up to date. I’m not presenting it as ironic, I mean it’s absurd, but there’s something kind of perfect and funny about it. Plus, worst comes to worst, it’s a Smiths night!”
On Wednesday night, roughly 32 hopeful single Smiths fans showed up, and were systematically placed at two-person tables—the girls on one side, the guys on the other. At the end of each song, the girls sit still, the boys rotate and, with any luck—or perhaps just happy in the haze of a drunken hour, or two or three—a few matches are made.
“Get ready to speed-date the sh** out of each other,” Hill said into the microphone before selecting the first track of the night. “Oh, and get lots of drinks.”
Date #1 seemed excited, albeit a little nervous. “I’ve never been speed dating before. But, I mean, why speed date? Why NOT speed date?” he asked, posing a valid question. The song ends, he moves along and is replaced by another, and another, and another. And it seems that everybody is having an unexpectedly good time—especially the two couples making out at the back of the bar.
“This is totally fun,” said handsome bachelor #8—one of six guys who came together as a group—who considered changing his name and coming up with a false persona for the occasion, just in case: a sweet-and-sensitive third-stringer for the Yankees, or maybe a Canadian transplant with a taste for the outdoors. “Yeah, this is much less awkward than I thought it would be.”
Due to the nature of the game, it’s difficult to keep things strictly regimented, and by the end of the evening the rotating Smiths songs had faded into the background, and the rows of one-on-one dates disbanded into something of a group mixer.
“Ok, ok,” Hill said. “Free date! Talk to whoever you want!”
Some daters left soon after the festivities ended but most lingered around the bar, at least for a little while—because even Brooklynites are human and need to be loved, just like everybody else does.
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