August 2007

Meet Your Match: Speed Dating comes to Murphy's Pub

Author: Lindsey Hawkins

Being single on Hilton Head Island is not easy, especially when your new prospect could be returning his or her fabulous rented yacht after just one week and heading back to Ohio. Don’t get it wrong. High-traffic tourism has its benefits, but finding the local diamond in the dating rough is not one of them. Until now.

Speed dating, a popular big-city trend, has come to our island, thanks to Lisa Murphy of The Sanctuary European Day Spa. On July 7, Murphy hosted the first dating event at Murphy’s Irish Pub, located off Pope Ave., kicking off the fun-filled evening with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a stopwatch set for four minutes.

On the restaurant side of the pub, ten tables were set up with candles, rose petals and, of course, shamrocks and rugby paraphernalia. Participants of all ages arrived to sign up and pick a starting table. As the seats filled up, apprehensive faces turned into charming first-impression conversations consisting of nods and laughter, only to end and start over after four minutes.

“Dating on the island is hard because of tourists and close-knit clicks who don’t expand outside of their circles,” said 29-year-old Alison Burkley, whose co-workers and friends persuaded her to try speed dating for the first time. According to Burkley, she was just looking to meet new people and possibly make some more friends.

Speed dating is really no different than striking up a conversation with a new face at a bar, except it weeds out tourists and gives us all something in common from the start: knowledge that we are there to “strike up a conversation,” Burkley explained. “It’s weird at first, but I really had fun.”

With ages ranging from mid-twenties to late-fifties and attire from dresses and heels to tank-tops and jean shorts, everyone seemed to be able to find common ground—especially a certain couple who decided to hang out together afterward.

Many of the participants seemed to have a pleasant evening, but nothing is perfect. Keep in mind that this is a small island. If you are looking to remain anonymous, online dating might be a more comfortable alternative.

For example, two rather excited ladies bolted for the door when one spotted an ex-boyfriend just before the dating began. However, these two were rather laid back about the concept of speed dating before they made a run for it, as were the majority of the crowd. Most had participated in online dating and thought it more interesting to have a real first impression rather than an electronic one.

In the aftermath of the rapid table hopping, comments were similar. All had a good time, but many wish they had asked better questions.

So, in the spirit of Celebrate Hilton Head here are a few suggestions:

Where are you from?
How long have you lived on the island?
What do you do for a living?
What is your favorite island activity?
Do you have children?
And if you get a good vibe… What are you doing later?

With this in mind, don’t be afraid to meet your community in a new fun way while hanging out at an island favorite, Murphy’s Irish Pub.

For more information on dates and times for upcoming speed dating events, contact Murphy’s Irish Pub (842.3448) or The Sanctuary European Day Spa (842.5999).

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