Well, after a lengthy hiatus (big thanks to T1 for holding the fort while I was swanning around overseas!), I am back in our lovely nation’s capital. Gotta say, it was a bit weird being in Nice, France enjoying 15 degree weather and blue skies during their winter, while watching the mercury in Canberra dip below 5 degrees in summer! But I digress.
After spending my first weekend back unpacking, eating leftover stroopwafel and camel milk chocolate, I decided that I should spend my second weekend re-connecting with my Canberra mates. Then I realised that, while I’d been overseas, yet another five friends/drinking buddies had left for greener pastures. My social circle had shrunk yet again. Bugger.
Many will attest to the fact that Canberra can sometimes be a hard place to make mates. If you didn’t grow up or go to uni here, or join one of the government graduate programs, that ready-made group of friends isn’t on hand. You’ve gotta fend for yourself. I did come down here for a grad program, but that was back in 2008. The vast majority of my group left the department within a year or so (and so did I, but I didn’t move too far – from Belconnen down the road to Parliamentary Triangle!), most of them back to their respective home states. Sure, we’re still Facebook friends and all, but it just ain’t the same as catching up over cocktails and tapas. Besides, I spend enough time online during the week at work (don’t we all?) without doing ALL my socialising on there too!
Anyway, so when I was flicking through the Canberra Weekly magazine one lunch time, an ad for a ‘Be My Wingman’ event (let’s call it BMW) caught my eye. I went to their website to investigate further. ‘Locate new best girl friends in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra!’, the headline promised. For $40, you’d be invited along to a ‘unique social society for ladies’ (ooh, exclusive-sounding much?!), where you’d then be introduced to nine other girls around your age in a speed-date kind of setting. Oh, and you’d be given a couple of glasses of free champers. It sounded good to me, so I promptly signed up (plus, I was feeling rather guilty that I hadn’t written a blog entry for so long – I needed an interesting topic to cover!). I was excited – I’m not the type of person who is afraid of meeting new people and finding things to talk about; it’s just a matter of finding the right crowd. The thought of lurking around a pub by myself doesn’t get me going, but BMW sounded well-planned and friendly.
Loyal readers of our blog (are there any of you? Haha :P) may remember the review that T1 and I wrote on the Single Mingle night last July. Anyway, BMW had the same type of concept – but with the aim of finding mates, not dates. Held at D’Zire in Dickson (which kinda sounds like a seedy strip joint name if you ask me… luckily, it was far from it), the result was an event that was relaxed and expectation-free. Instead of making awkward small talk with guys that clearly were on the hunt for some lovin’, conversation with the BMW girls was just like hanging out with a bunch of old mates.
The rules of the ‘game’ were straightforward. After a half-hour registration/drinks session, the twenty ladies were divided into two groups (under 30s and under 35s). We were given a total of six minutes to talk with each girl. A bell was dinged at five minutes, giving us an extra minute to wind up the conversation before moving on to the next girl. Unlike speed dating (where each lady stays put, and the guys move around), everyone moved along one seat, bar one – meaning that every girl got a chance to meet each other. We were given a clipboard with space to write each girl’s name along with a box for YES (as in, yes! I do wanna hang out with that awesome Tara chick again). There wasn’t a box for ‘no’ – basically, as Jade (BMW ultimate wing-woman and coordinator) explained, the afternoon was meant to be a positive experience with nice, friendly vibes. No need for big, negative ‘NO’ boxes!
We got stuck into our little ‘dates’ quickly, as a lot of talking was to be crammed into the six minutes. Fortunately, those boring, predictable ‘Where do you work? What did you do at uni?’ questions were generally only touched on quickly, before moving on to much more interesting topics, like travelling and summer celebrations (thank goodness for that – I dread those lame ‘what have you achieved in life compared to me?’ focussed questions that tend to dominate conversations at some Canberra functions!). If we got stuck for ideas, we could refer to a list with handy conversation starters ranging from the interesting (i.e. what are your goals for 2012?), to the strange (i.e. have you ever thought that your colleagues/friends were plotting against you?), and the boring (i.e. are you a cat or a dog person, and why?). I really enjoyed the range of conversations that I had, but was definitely relieved that the group was limited to ten girls – any more, and I reckon we’d have quickly gotten sick of introducing ourselves and thinking of meaningful stuff to say.
Before we knew it, the official BMW event was over. A lot of the girls were keen to kick on, so we wandered over to the next door Trinity Bar – a pleasant way to cap off a good arvo of speed-friending. Jade was in touch super quickly afterwards, so by Monday arvo I’d received an email containing the BMW results. Turns out that all nine girls had said ‘yes’ to me and passed on their contact details – win! Jade also provided a group picture of all the girls who’d attended, making it easier to put names to faces (I’ll admit, I probably remembered about five of the girls’ names two days later – terrible, I know!). I haven’t gotten in touch with anyone yet (isn’t there some sort of three day rule? Or does that only apply to guys?…), but I certainly plan to soon. Or I’ll at least add them on Facebook
After discussing my weekend with T1, she inquisitively asked whether there had been any weirdos at the event. Surely, there must have been some strange ones there who couldn’t find friends because they owned twenty feral cats or had gross B.O.?! But nope, I can honestly say that the bunch of ladies I met were down-to-earth, friendly and NORMAL (…maybe I was the token strange one? :P). Some of them were brand new to Canberra, and some of them were locals. Either way, everyone was looking for the same thing – old-fashioned friendship (or maybe just another girl to gossip about rubbish like ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ with!*).
So, would I go along again? For sure. I know that, if I want to expand my social circle in Canberra, I need to put myself out there. Speed-friending may seem like a bit of a lame way to meet people, but I don’t reckon it’s really all that different to meeting people in a bar or club. And, in the famous Woody Allen’s words, ‘80% of success is showing up’ – so, get out there girls. If nothing else, at least you’ll have enjoyed a few glasses of the bubbly stuff and some jelly babies.
*The author does not engage in conversations about said topic… very often!
Date: Saturday, 28 January (3.00pm-6.30pm)
Cost: $40, including a couple of drinks
Location: D’Zire Bar, Challis St, Dickson
Worthwhile factor: worthwhile
Want more?: www.bemywingman.com.au