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Dating in Perth

Dating in Perth

Photography by Renee Bergere.

Anna Christensen adopts the role of intrepid dating adventuress to see which methods really work. She also surveys hundreds of Perthites about how to meet prospects, where to take your date, and when to seal the deal (hint: it’s sooner than you think). 

SPEED DATING

A writer for The Atlantic recently wrote a piece claiming that in a post-Tinder age, speed dating has ironically become one of the slowest forms of dating around. Much like vinyl or fixies, speed dating is attracting throngs of young hipsters for its almost retro appeal. Really. And when I saw Double Double Small Bar was running speed dating, my curiosity was instantly piqued. After all, I wouldn’t have associated the grungy bar, with its tasty burgers and wall art, with the desperate and dateless. Owner Gavin Bellinger told me that for $15 a pop, you’d receive a drink, some nibbles and the chance to meet the love of your life. Why the hell not? Heading down with six (surprisingly keen) pals, I didn’t know what to expect, but the vibe was chill. Ladies took a seat and the guys, like overgrown pre-schoolers playing musical chairs, shuffled around them. There were some people from overseas or interstate who complained the Perth dating scene was challenging – “It’s so cliquey!” – plus a couple of guys who sheepishly admitted to being ‘extras’, called in by the owners when the male attendees looked scant. But everyone was friendly and the last-resort question cards remained largely face down. Two of my girlfriends ended up hitting it off with the two guys I brought, and went on a double date to The Classroom the following week. Later, Gav told me another two people who met backed up the night by going out to dinner. Wins all round. I was interested to try a more formal speed dating night too, so turned to Fast Impressions. Sales manager Chris Marnie says, “Our philosophy has always been to completely reverse the standard expectations from a speed dating event – which is why we unapologetically charge premium prices.” Each date lasts for six to eight minutes and they have strict limits on the number of attendees for the events – which usually sell out. “Not having a conveyor belt of dates it encourages everyone to actually try to get to know each date,” says Chris. Champagne flowed and the pickings were varied – there was a handsome Swiss astrophysicist (yes, really. I Googled him later), a lawyer-cum-rocker, a film producer... Although I didn’t feel sparks fly, I had some great conversations – and my ego puffed up when they emailed me the next day to say I had one of the highest tick rates in history. Hurrah!

PROS
People are usually serious about finding a relationship, not just a one-night-stand. If the convo is painful, you won’t need a friend to call pretending your cat’s died – the timed slots mean you’ll (literally) be saved by the bell.

CONS
There’s no romantic spontaneity or cute ‘first meeting’ story; five minutes or so may not be long enough to truly judge someone.

Success Story

Sharon, graphic designer, 43, and
Alan, accountant, 48
Together since 2007

Sharon I was married previously for fourteen years, and had split up about a year before. I’d tried online dating and hadn’t really found it to be a viable way of meeting a life partner, it was just people looking for sex. I’m not prudish but I’m not into people sending nude pictures of themselves straight off the bat either! And nightclubs freaked me out. A really good friend who helped me get through that first year after separation told me he was going to a Fast Impressions speed dating event for university-educated people. It was a Wednesday night, so I thought why not? I liked the idea of it, that the people going were actually serious about finding a relationship. On the night, I was nervous as hell. I think I forgot you were meant to make notes about who you liked until about the sixth person. My husband was number seven! We emailed each other and organised a lunch at Swan Brewery, where we hit it off straight away. We’ve both got kids, so we took it fairly slowly to start off with, to make sure they were happy. We were married in 2010, three years after we met. We both feel pretty lucky we were given a second chance.

LOVE ME TINDER

Never did I think I’d see the day that dating on 'teh Internetz' would be acceptable for under-forties, but the app Tinder, with its one-swipe shallowness (left for no, right for yes) and easy profiles (no need to fill in pages of hobbies, just link it to your Facebook) has brought online dating to the masses. “We have found that Tinder is a good gateway concept – it introduces younger people to the idea of online dating without the stigma of the ‘last chance saloon’ reputation that online dating has,” says Chris. Granted, it does have a bit of a seedy rep – people will crinkle their noses when they see the app on your phone (though don’t be fooled, they’re probably using it, too). I had to scroll through my fair share of beer-fisting festivalgoers, and the occasional bathroom selfie (yes, really) but I found some diamonds in the rough – and I ain’t talking blingin’ chains. I got matched with law students, photographers, musicians – even a cute guy we stopped on the street last edition to find the best places to pick up (hey, Rob! Guess Ambar’s not working out, huh?) I committed to meeting up with a longhaired rocker who seemed to share my goofy sense of humour, and we had a few drinks and danced until dawn. A couple of days later, he asked me on a Proper Date – take that, Tinder naysayers! – to dinner at La Cholita, followed by drinks at Mechanics.

PROS
You can pick up in your tracky dacks. Nuff said.

CONS
Bathroom selfies, nude shots, cringe-worthy taglines. My guy friends complained about girls they suspected were robots who came on aggressively sexual, while some guys are flat-out weird (“If we ran toward each other really fast and hit heads, who do you think would die first?” asked one guy. I wish I could say I was kidding).

Success Story

Sutherlan, lawyer, 24, and
Kortnie, dancer and psychology student, 22
Together since January 2014

Sutherlan My friend told me about Tinder initially. I thought it seemed interesting,
a different way of meeting girls. I’d been using it for about three months before I saw Kortnie’s profile. I was out on a boat at the time and showing one of my brother’s mates what it was. I said, “Oh this girl is cute,” and matched her. I started talking to her and I ended up seeing her out that night at The Shed! Her photos really didn’t do her justice – she was gorgeous. We ended up hanging out until the early hours of the morning. Two days later, we went for a date at Kelp pop-up bar in South Freo. We pretty much hung out the next ten days straight, and we decided to make it exclusive after that. In May, we spent a month in the US, and we’re still going strong.

BAR HOPPING

Ah, the old fashioned way. Picking up at a bar is supposed to be a breeze, but scoring a date while slinging a drink has always eluded me. I’m notorious for flitting around like a boozy hummingbird at the bar, darting away when it finally looks like I might click with someone, or befriending girls in the bathroom instead of flirting with potential prospects. But for this feature, I was determined to change my play – and win a date, or at least a phone number, in the process. Hitting up Helvetica with a group of friends, I was intimidated by the small cliques. However, my wingman was not having a bar of it (chortle) and made me identify the cutest boy in the joint – the bartender, incidentally. He marched me up to him as if I were a naughty toddler, only the piece of paper in my hand was not a reluctant sorry note but my number scrawled on a napkin. Gulp. Unfortunately, my wingman also let slip it was for an article – the poor guy looked petrified. Although cute bartender messaged me that very night, it was clear the ball was in my court – he made me name the date, time and place. I suggested new bar Lot Twenty, but given Perth peep’s magpie-like penchant for anything new and shiny, it was packed out, so we migrated to PICA. “I don’t really go on dates normally,” he said, looking a bit uncomfortable as we settled in. But as the night wore on, he relaxed. We chatted about our work, families, and travel plans – and had a nice time. He sent me a message the next morning thanking me for the night, and a couple of days later, invited me to a film. For a dating novice, he was a quick learner! I decided to listen to local gospel when picking my next pick-up venue. When we asked the good people of Mount Lawley the best place to pick up last edition, Beaufort Street’s Clarence’s got an honourable mention. And, I have to hand it to you, street dwellers, you’re onto something: I didn’t even have to leave my table, where my hot buttered rum sat steaming, to get picked up. A guy with a cool Scottish accent came over and asked for a lighter, and when I told him I didn’t have one, he hung around and asked me out to dinner. He followed up the next day, suggesting Greek restaurant Brika. On our date, the convo didn’t flow quite as nicely as it had over hot buttered rums. Still, though that particular guy wasn’t for me, I’m already scheming a return visit to Clarence’s...

PROS
Liquid courage. Plus, you’re usually with friends so the pressure-factor is low.

CONS
Some people hit the bars just to find one-night-stands. Also, if you’ve downed a few drinks, you may be seeing prospects through rosé-coloured glasses…

How did you meet your most recent partner?

Through friends and family 35%
On a dating site or app 22%
At a bar/club 11%
At work 10%
At uni 3%
Through social media 2%
Other 16%

What do you think is the best kind of first date?

Going for drinks – a little social lube never hurt anyone 59%
A coffee date – it’s as low-pressure as you can get 26%
An activity like bowling or a concert – it keeps things light 11%
A movie – no awkward pauses and you can get affectionate without being creepy 4%

 

Success Story

Tiffany, nurse, 25, and
Justin, lawyer, 26
Together since 2010

Tiffany I was going to have a girls’ night out, and my friend suggested stopping by The Brisbane. We ended up staying the whole night because I met Justin and I didn’t want to leave! He tried to talk me into going home with him but I said no, so he asked for number. He called me three days after.
He was definitely playing the game. I almost stopped seeing him because he was so intermittent with his texts, but I stuck it out. I must have known it would be worth it. On our first date, he suggested going on a day date to the dog beach near Cottesloe – he brought his parents’ dog because its adorable and he knew that it would get the girls. When he dropped me home, we had a little kiss. We saw each other pretty much weekly until we officially started going out two months later. We had fish and chips on the beach, and he asked “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” I squealed a bit, I think. I had been waiting for ages! We moved in together last year after we got back from a trip to New York. I was not expecting to meet someone at a bar – I’d met lots of one-night stands, but never a boyfriend!

 

LOVE IS BLIND

My friend met her long-term boyfriend through yours truly – so, feeling she had a bit of romantic debt to pay back, she was quick to volunteer her services in engineering a blind date. I was a bit dubious about the concept – who but Jewish grandmothers in the movies actually thought they were a good idea? When I asked my friends if they knew anyone who had been set up on a successful blind date, our receptionist – who has mole-like vision – joked, “I met my boyfriend when my glasses were off – does that count?”, while another quipped she was “pretty blind” when she met her partner. Groan. But my friend assured me the guy in question was nice, smart and socially adept, so I relented and let her give him my number. He responded dutifully, texting me to suggest the new Northbridge Brewing Company, and even offered to pick me up. While I’d never dream of hitching a ride with a stranger I met online, having my friend vet the creeps for me was reassuring. But was love really, er, blind? I was about to find out. The guy picked me up bang on time and was polite and gentlemanly, with a nice manner that had the convo flowing smoothly. And the fact he cited Nabokov as his favourite author? Let’s just say it had been a long time since I had met a guy who could list a book other than Harry Potter. Still, there was something fundamental missing: chemistry. He followed up by asking me on another date but when I told him I didn’t feel a romantic spark, he admitted he felt the same. Still, as far as first dates go it could certainly have been worse.

PROS
Your friend has done the screening for you so you won’t get sprung by a creeper.

CONS
You might feel pressure to please your friend, even if you know you’re not into the date. 

Success Story

Georgie, physiotherapist, 24, and
Jack, psychology student, 24
Together since August 2013

Georgie My friend arranged for Jack and I to meet at a party. She told us about each other but didn’t show photos. It was a little awkward at first, but I liked how genuine he was and the way he listened... He texted me the next day, asking me out. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure but my friend convinced me. We had a sit-down dinner – it was more formal than I was used to but we had a lot of laughs. Over a year on, we’re really happy and are going away together to Vietnam over Christmas. Having that friend in common gives you the understanding that they’re a good person and not a creep, even if you don’t know anything about them. My mum met her boyfriend on a blind date too!

OTHER PERTH PICK-UP METHODS

1. Matchmaking Services
If you’re anything like me, reruns of the trash TV show Millionaire Matchmaker have you obsessed by the idea of a matchmaker. Can a perfect stranger really choose a match for you with higher accuracy than, well, yourself? People’s Introduction Bureau, Perth’s premier matchmaker, reckons so. They’ve been responsible for hundreds of matches in Perth based on their personalised service. Just Coffee is another popular one, due to its low-pressure philosophy – everyone has time for a coffee, right?

2. Pozee
Move over Tinder, there’s a new pick-up app on the scene. Pozee encourages people to meet face-to-face by using location services to show who is single and open to being approached – within fifty metres of where you’re standing. According to its Perth-based co-founder Joanna Hayes, “When you eliminate the uncertainty about whether another person is single and open to being approached, you eliminate a large part of the fear of rejection that often holds people back from approaching one another.”

3. Booklove
Although it’s temporarily on hiatus due to the lack of male bookworms, we were in love with this cute dating approach. Speed dating in the quaint Beaufort Street Books while discussing your favourite books? What a novel idea (heh).

Dating No-Nos

Our readers dished on the dating faux pas that would tempt them to sneak out
the side door

  • Opening the ex files
  • Bad table manners
  • Getting too physical
  • Constantly checking your phone
  • Being rude to waitstaff
  • Chatting someone else up
  • Checking your Tinder
  • Talking politics
  • Ordering ribs
  • Money chat
  • Drunkenness
  • Sobriety

PERTH-THEMED PICKUP LINES

Pick-up lines are best served with extra cheese, so we dare you to try some of these groan-worthy lines on for size. Though when our sub-editor heard them, he snorted, “You’ll be going home alone”, we think you’ll at least score a pity date.

  • Do you have a ticket for the Freo to Perth train? Because you’ve got fine written all over you.
  • Were you in the City 2 Surf? Because you’ve been running through my mind all day.
  • You must be from the windy city because you just blew me away.
  • Hey, have you been to the Mary Street Bakery? Cos you have some sweet buns.
  • Baby, you’re like the Perth Arena.You’re ugly on the outside, but you sure know how to give a good time.
  • Baby, you got a booty like a black swan.
  • Are you the Elizabeth Quay to my heart?
  • Do you work at Jim Kidd? Because you’re sporting the goods.
  • Kings Park isn’t the only thing that’s King-sized, you know…
  • You must be from Perth, cos you are one hot beach.
  • Better call the Perth council, I’ve just seen a fox.
  • Are you from Mundaring? Cos, dam!

RELATIONSHIP ROADMAP

DATE ONE
Mrs Browns, North Fremantle
The North Freo wine bar – with its cosy fireplace, great wine list, and board games if the conversation runs a little dry – has all the fixings for a relaxed first date. Plus, if your date doesn’t bowl you over, the Don Draper dead ringer behind the bar will.

DATE TWO
Bathers Beach Markets followed by comedy at Little Comedy Lounge, Fremantle
So date numero uno went well, huh? Chances are you discovered all the important credentials over a glass of wine, and they made the cut. Now, it’s time to relax and have some fun. The Bathers Beach Sunset Markets are romantic without being clichéd – sip a fresh drinking coconut with your street food and watch the sun go down. But don’t call it a night there. Here at Perth Guide, we reckon no sense of humour is a deal breaker, so find out if your date can partake in the lolz at comedy night.

DATE THREE
Lalla Rookh then Laneway Lounge, CBD
You know what the third date means, right? Winky wink. It’s time to impress, so order some shucked oysters at Lalla Rookh (we hear they’re an aphrodisiac), then mosey on down to Laneway Lounge. Our readers are a big fan of the bar for its cocktails, smooth jazz and sultry-as-hell decor.

DATE FOUR
Breakfast at Bib & Tucker and a walk on Leighton Beach, North Fremantle
If the third date was a success, chances are you’re waking up next to them. Why say goodbye so soon? Stroll down Leighton Beach before having some buttermilk and blueberry pancakes at Bib & Tucker.

DATE FIVE
Rooftop Movies, CBD
Several respondents suggested this as their fave date spot, and we can see why. Cult movies and kitsch decor give the place street cred, but the outdoor setting and pop-up vans make it romantic. Order pizza from Dough and settle in. And if it’s a little breezy? All the more reason to get snuggly.

DATE SIX
Bowling at Rosemount Bowl then a cocktail degustation at the Classroom, North Perth
A bit of playful competition can really reveal someone’s true colours – but will they bowl you over or just strike out? Make like high-school kids and have a date at the bowling alley, then continue the throwback at The Classroom, which has cleverly themed cocktail degustation nights (we won’t tell your teacher if you have a few too many).

DATE SEVEN
Clarence’s, Mount Lawley
It’s time to get to know each other’s friends. We suggest you both invite your pals to Clarence’s on Sunday, where you can get to know them (read: suck up) while sipping on ginger-infused ciders in the sun.

DATE EIGHT
Leederville Food Safari then Bill’s Bar and Bites, Leederville
Go for a progressive dinner in Leederville at Ria, Kitsch and Foam. And if three venues weren’t enough, have a nightcap at Bill’s Bar and Bites – our readers reckon it’s one of the best date joints around.

DATE NINE
Wine tasting, Swan Valley
Talk about make-or-break – nothing blossoms or bludgeons a relationship like a day trip with a longish car ride. But wine tasting across the Swan Valley can be one of the most romantic experiences out. If you get tipsy (and haven’t thrown a glass of wine on your date’s head yet), stay the night at a nearby hotel.

DATE TEN
Picnic at King’s Park
Pack a basket and a bottle of vino – it’s time to pop the exclusivity question. Congrats, you made it! Welcome to Relationship-ville.

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