People make all kinds of excuses for not striking up conversations – they didn’t have an opportunity to chat, were unsure whether someone was single/interested, or didn’t want to seem creepy, to list a few of the usual justifications in Missed Connections posts.
Last night’s event “We’ve Got a Crush On You,” also known by the Twitter shorthand #CrushTO, seemed to offer the antithesis of Missed Connections: bring together open-minded people (of all orientations, relationship statuses, and sexual interests) to flirt, make friends, and engage in any other mutually agreed upon shenanigans. The set-up of this “mixer for people who want to make sex-positive like-minded friends,” as billed by local blogger collective I’d Tap That, appears to remove all the social obstacles that Missed Connections users use as scapegoats.
Fascinated as I am by the ways in which people connect (or fail to do so), I checked it out when friends invited me along (conveniently for me, it located in my neighbourhood at The Central, an unassuming bar for such an occasion).
I was given a tag – #64 – which I was instructed to wear (cue jokes with friends about feeling like we were “for sale,” that it was a “meat market,” etc.). Attendees were invited to write anonymous “crush notes” for others they liked, using a person’s tag number (these crush notes ranged from sweet to sexually explicit). These notes were then tweeted by the organizers and projected on a wall of tweets (attendees could also follow the #crushTO hashtag on their phones) for all to see.
Since I was recovering from being sick, I was unable able to take advantage of the liquid courage afforded by the cheap drink specials (yes, I know… excuses, excuses). I was surprisingly a bit nervous (considering my lack of agenda other than seeing friends, dancing, and trying something new) that no one would write a note for me, which is possibly the most middle school-ish, last-picked-for-the-team kind of emotion to have in one’s late twenties. Luckily, the encouraging and fun group of friends I was with all submitted crush notes for each other, and an eclectic mix of music had attendees relaxed and dancing.
I was surprised by how much this supportive, non-judgmental event — designed to get open-minded people interacting — led to attendees writing notes instead of chatting face-to-face, not unlike Missed Connections. I heard many saying they wished their admirers would just come talk to them, rather than sending a crush note (although it was fun to read notes on-screen, and I’m still curious to know who described me as “Velma from Scooby Doo gone clubbing,” for the record). I was equally guilty of being shy in making face-to-face connections, but I still had a terrific time being around a few rooms’ worth of exuberant and friendly people.
From friends’ accounts and later #crushTO tweets, it sounded like a fair number of “connections” of various kinds were, in fact, made as the night progressed. #CrushTO was an unexpectedly and refreshingly low pressure event – there was a genuine sense that you were okay just as you were, no matter how you looked or whom you were looking for at the event.
As a friend described it, “last night was like a nightclub for people like me.” And I think that’s kind of the point of an event like this – a way for those of us who aren’t necessarily into the typical nightclub “scene” to meet fun people, feel attractive, and frankly, just to be ourselves and own it. As I walked home alone, I had a happy buzz of crushing on myself.