of the latest dating trends to sweep the nation could
soon put an end to your lonely nights. Speed dating
is the newest and most efficient way to increase your
odds of making a love connection in a short amount of
This modern-day dating experience, made popular by
Whites, is steadily working its way into Black communities
across the country. New York Media personality Sabrina
Lamb and former theatrical agent DeBorah Gittens are
the masterminds behind FlirtingTime.com, the first Black-owned
speed dating company geared toward African-American
singles who seriously want to connect.
"They don't cater to us," says Lamb of the
predominately White dating events posted on the Internet.
"We were an after-thought considered as a `special'
or `ethnic' event.
"I took the [speed dating] idea and developed
it so that it had the flavor of our cultural concerns."
At each FlirtingTime soiree, which is usually held
at an elegant Black-owned establishment, participants
engage in several one-on-one conversations lasting five
The soirees are categorized by age and location. Currently
the functions are being held weekly at various locations
in New York and New Jersey. Upcoming February events
are scheduled for Houston and Atlanta with future plans
for development in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and
To make the evening more interesting, the soirees are
coordinated by themes such as "Single, Black Professionals,"
"Old School Lovers" and "Single, Black
and Loving It!"
With speed dating couples are not expected to make
a love connection within the five-minute time frame,
but they should be able to get a feel of whether or
not this is someone that they may or may not want to
get to know better.
"Flirting means to take a lively, casual interest
in someone, to smile and laugh with each other. I really
want African-American singles to see these soirees as
an opportunity for affection and love in their lives.
You never know where the chances for companionship may-come
from," says Lamb.
Each attendee, who has registered for a small fee on
the Internet, receives a name badge and a flirt card
upon arrival. The cards are used to express the level
of interest the participants feel for one another in
one of four categories: (1) Let's Flirt! (2) Activity
Pals (3) Business Contact or (4) No Vibes.
"It's important to register on the site because
that is how we make sure there is an equal ratio of
men to women," Lamb explains. "You'll never
come to a soiree where there are 95 women and only two
Once the evening is complete, each participant is notified
via e-mail with the information from the flirt cards
that tells which attendee wanted to get to know another
better and on what level. Contact information is then
exchanged with both party's permission in order to set
up future arrangements.
Ricole Edwards, 35, a management consultant from Delaware,
said that after a failed relationship she planned to
experiment with online dating, but decided to give speed
dating a try first.
"FlirtingTime was an opportunity for me to be
open to meeting people who might otherwise be different
from the type of man that I'm normally attracted to,"
says Edwards, who has attended two soirees and has gone
on two dates.
New Jersey Quality Control Specialist Dirk Gordon,
33, says that a friend told him about speed dating,
but he wasn't quite sure what to expect. "I just
heard that I had the opportunity to date up to 40 women,"
he laughs. "You can't beat those odds."
As one of the many men rotating from one woman's table
to the next, Gordon admits that he felt slightly uncomfortable
at the FlirtingTime event.
"At first I felt a little pressure--some of the
women were kind of aggressive with their questions.
But I did meet some very nice and interesting people
who I've hung out with a few times. I've recommended
it to a lot of people and several of them want to go."
April Denson, a 42-year-old, New Jersey accountant
and widowed mother of three, was lucky enough to make
a connection with someone the first time she went to
a FlirtingTime soiree.
"I think five minutes was plenty," Denson
explains of the one-on-one conversations. "It's
a certain smile or the way that you feel when you're
talking to someone that makes you feel something for
them. Just like anything else--when you see something
that you like you kind of know."
According to clinical psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Gardere,
author of Love Prescription: Ending the War Between
Black Men and Women, any dating activities that singles
experience, new or old, should simply be about having
"Speed dating is not about `hooking up' with someone.
It's about the excitement of meeting new people in a
controlled, safe and friendly environment. Leave home
the bad experiences from past excursions and come into
this adventure with an open mind for trying something
new. Doing these things will keep singles from having
to meet unreasonable expectations and being negative.
Maximize the experience?