Niles speed-dating event is rush to find Mr. (or Mrs.) Right
George Babicz and Meiya Fitzhugh chat during a liberal speed-dating event held Sept. 21 at Capone's Hideout in Niles. | Jennifer Johnson~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 1, 2012 4:53PM
NILES — It may take months or years to find your soulmate, but then again, it could take only five minutes.
Such was the goal of a recent “liberal speed-dating” event organized at Capone’s Hideout in Niles on Sept. 21.
Organizers Stuart Chaseman and Ken Samson had both tried speed-dating in the past and were surprised when they found out that speed-dating specifically for liberals did not exist.
So they decided to start Date Liberal, a company providing individuals with the opportunity to go on several short dates in one night with other politically-progressive single people.
“You should start on some kind of common ground,” said Chaseman. He
explained that some people may not find out the person they’re dating has different political views for quite awhile. With Date Liberal, things are out in the open from the start.
Samson said there were at least five matches made at the inaugural event. But even those who didn’t find “the one,” still enjoyed the experience.
“It was fun,” said Meiya Fitzhugh, of Schaumburg, who came to the event with some of her friends.
Though she did not believe she met her soulmate, Fitzhugh said it was an enjoyable first speed-dating event for her. She added that it was a comfortable setting and she liked speaking with the men she met about a wide range of topics, from their favorite movies and hobbies to social media.
Participants were grouped according to age and they went on a series of five-minute dates. They then marked a confidential scorecard that indicated if they were interested in a date with the person with they met.
If both people showed an interest in each other, the organizers provided each with the other’s contact information.
“It was good,” said Michael Wolf, of Schaumburg, who believed he may have found a couple of women he would consider dating. “It was an eclectic group of people.”
Wolf said he is not a liberal, but still enjoyed talking with all of the people he met at the event.
“I think that everyone really seemed nice,” said Kathryn Bush, of Lake Zurich. Bush said that she has liberal views and sometimes it can be challenging to find a like-minded date.
“You have to have a sense of humor about it,” said Rosemary Lapka of Chicago of the experience. “It’s such an artificial scenario.”
Lapka noted that a speed-dating session “is only awkward if you want it to be.” And if a match isn’t in the cards, it’s a good way to hear about potential things to do during the upcoming weekend, she said.
For some, the experience wasn’t the most natural way to get to know someone.
“It was terrifying,” remarked George Babicz of Skokie. “I talked a lot. I exuded all levels of incompetence.”
Babicz, who attended with some acquaintances, wasn’t very optimistic about the outcome.
“I think I met zero matches,” Babicz acknowledged.
Chaseman feels that couples have enough challenges maintaining a strong relationship without involving various issues that are social and political. He believes political compatibility is very important to many singles during “these politically divisive times.”
Chaseman added that he would like to hold these liberal speed-dating events more often and is considering hosting an event in Chicago.
The evening in Niles also consisted of drinks, pizza and musical entertainment provided by Chaseman.~.