Dating events 'more about enlarging social circles'

SINGAPORE - It is not about finding The One, but making new friends. This is what today's singles look for when they sign up for dating activities, say industry experts.

"Everyone loves short cuts, and this is a way to enlarge one's social circle," said Mrs Michelle Goh of dating agency CompleteMe. It is one of the 11 groups that helped organise Dating Fest 2014 with the Social Development Network - borne out of the union of the Social Development Unit and Social Development Services.

Yesterday, the eight-week-long festival culminated in a mass speed-dating event at Orchard Hotel, where about 500 singles got to know one another a bit better.

Among them was Mr Liang Weili, 28, who showed up with a bouquet of nine roses - one for each woman who caught his eye. "If you can't find someone at school or at work, then you have to come to social events like this," the financial adviser said.

More than 1,400 singles signed up for 115 activities and workshops in this year's event, up from about 1,000 last year.

These activities go beyond the traditional dinner date, with participants able to sign up for cooking or dance lessons.

Ms Choo Yanqing, who owns A Dance Date, helps people get to know one another through dance.

"A lot of those who join are people who work shifts," she said.

"Maybe because of that, they don't have a lot of time to meet people."

Most of her clients, who are in their 20s to 30s, go for partner dances like the tango and salsa.

Ms Deon Chan, managing director of Love Express, said the stigma attached to dating events is fast disappearing.

If there is still a stigma, only a very small percentage of people, maybe 10 per cent, feel this way, she said. "But as the dating scene gets more exciting, the stigma will go away," she said.

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