Let’s face it, dating is hard work. And when you’re hurtling toward your mid-forties and living a hectic life in London it makes it even harder. In fact I often consider just giving up even trying and just getting a cat. I’ve tried internet dating of course, only to conclude that the men on there are either bored marrieds itching for an affair or the socially awkward saddos that no one else wants. I gave Tinder a go, but got bored of the soulless ‘hook up’ mentality. Next I signed up for Happn, but sadly nothing ever seemed to really, well, ‘happn’. I’ve concluded that there really is no better way to meet people than to actually get out of the house and well, talk to them and stuff. Radical or what? So my interest was piqued when I was invited to a ‘dedicated singles bar pop-up’ hosted by The Inner Circle at a swishy new members bar in Soho.
Launched in 2012 this cosmopolitan dating network claim to run a trustworthy and friendly community that spans London, Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Stockholm and Amsterdam. They aim to put an end to ‘tacky pick up joints with a high ratio of alcoholic drinks per person’ – although personally I’m not averse the odd night of exactly that.
So it was with a curious and open mind that I roped in fellow singleton and party pal Laura, and tottered along there last Thursday. We were ushered up the stairs at Greek Street stalwart L’Escargot and greeted by an impossibly perky young girl with a clipboard who set about showing us round. The club was packed already and there was a palpable frisson in the air. I was immediately struck by how good looking and well turned out the clientele were. The men were in smart blazers and crisp shirts whilst the girls were squeezed into tasteful body con and Louboutins, nervously checking out the competition. The club comprises four rooms – a main central area complete with jazz musicians and Djs, and three smaller rooms including a dressing up box where newly minted couples can cement their coupling with a wacky photoshoot.
‘Are you both single?’ asked clipboard lady, and we nervously nodded back. ‘You might find the man of your dreams!’ she squealed, although at that point we were more interested in finding the bar.
A bottle of prosecco later we felt ready to step into the arena. After an excruciating ten minutes of feeling like the last ones to be picked for the netball team we bit the bullet and got chatting to some men. I also made the acquaintance of some sweet young ladies who were loitering nervously by the loos, which turned out to be masterstroke – the four of us then took over the intimate ‘red room’ and invited passing men to come in and entertain us. At this point we really got into our stride and chatted to a wide variety of eligible (and scarily young-looking) fellas. The only negative to all this was the overwhelming whiff of garlicky French cooking wafting up from downstairs. A cosmopolitan atmosphere indeed.
Sadly we didn’t meet the men of our dreams – in fact the only cards I went home with were from girls who were keen to buddy up and go man hunting another night. But we had a very entertaining night and met some truly interesting, intelligent and charismatic young dudes. I’ve not been to many dedicated singles events but this one appeared to be working a treat with lots of starry-eyed new couples cosying up in corners come midnight. You can sign up at https://www.theinnercircle.
Reviewed by Meredith Davies for www.katiechutzpah.com