A SPEED dating event will go ahead with a twist when attendees log on to take part in a a firm’s first ever virtual event.
Matchstick Dates holds regular dating events in Colchester.
But when the coronavirus lockdown put a pause on any upcoming events organiser Tom Grovestock, 22, decided to think outside the box.
While digital dating in the form of apps and websites is not new, the organisers decided to take it a step further.
This weekend for the first time daters will log on to Zoom, a video conferencing app popular with the UK Government, as their dates go digital.
Those who take part will join a group chat room, before being given five minutes with each of their dates.
There will be a strict countdown and chats will be cut off when time is up and people will return to the group chat.
Daters will then be moved virtually from table to table until they meet everyone.
Tom, who has been running Matchstick Dates since November, said: “Over the next few months we are going to see a big shift in how people communicate.
“At the current time, most people are using video cams to connect with their friends.”
Tom decided he wanted to see if he could use the technology to connect people with those they don’t know in a safe setting.
“It is designed to be fun and silly,” he added.
“We are not going to pretend as if there isn’t this virtual element.”
The idea came about after Tom found a number of events in London had gone digital and he gave it a try.
“When this whole pandemic began, I started doing food deliveries,” he said.
“But I knew myself and a lot of people like me wanted to meet new people, not just for dating, but in general.
“I saw online a company in London was doing speed dating and events and I just thought I’d give it a go and I really enjoyed myself.
“I met some really good people that night and I thought this is exactly what people need.”
Matchstick has been running since 2017 and started as a music project before diversifying into dating.
The event takes place today from 7pm and is aimed at people aged between 22 and 38.
It costs £6 to take part.
To find out more or sign up to take part visit www.facebook.com/matchstickdates.