Singles mingle

Like cupid with his bow and arrow, the owner of a two-year-old speed-dating company hopes to hit a bull’s-eye with a British approach to introducing singles in the Glendale area.

Anoush Lauren, owner of Beverly Hills-based SpeedLA Dating, introduced her unique first-date experience to Glendale on Tuesday night at Katsuya in the Americana at Brand.

Lauren started the business in London, where she was born and raised.

“When I moved here two years ago, I hired all English girls to help me,” she said. “I wanted to bring the English, fun version of speed dating here. I wanted to make it more like a chic party or get-together.”

What makes her quick singles event different from the others, she said, is there are no bells or whistles abruptly signaling people to move to the next prospective mate. The hostesses go around and tap them on the shoulder to casually coax them to move along.

“We’re not taking it so seriously,” Lauren said.

This more laid-back version is very popular in England, she said.

SpeedLADating locations are always at upscale restaurants, and the aim is to blend in participants with the regular patrons, not segregate them, she said.

“We believe in treating singles more like regular people instead of castoffs,” she said. “We try not to make it such a glaringly obvious singles thing.”

Tuesday’s event was the first speed-dating experience for Stacey Harutunian of West Hollywood.

She came with a friend, which made it easier, but she admitted that she thought about bailing out a couple of times. Then she tried to look at it positively.

“Whatever — it will just be a good time,” she said. “It’s fun to meet new people, and the guys who are here are here to meet people too.”

Rafael Cunanan, of Burbank, came to the event after it was recommended by a friend.

“I’m always up for new things,” he said. “This is my first time. I’m excited.”

The event offers couples a few minutes to talk and get an impression of who they might want to spend more time with, Cunanan said.

William Roberts of Granada Hills attended an event by the same speed-dating business a couple of weeks ago.

“I’m here because there was no match at the first one, plus it’s fun,” he said.

Jacki Hardman, of Rancho Cucamonga, has done online dating and wanted to try the face-to-face approach, she said.

“People have a whole new persona online,” she said. “Meeting in person, you don’t get a lot of the built-up expectations. It’s harder to fake that in person than online.”

Thirty-six people attended the event. To help break the ice, Lauren said, sample questions were on cards on the tables.

A few examples: “If you were president, what would you do first, and what power would you most want to abuse?”; “What is the best way to end a bad first or blind date?” and “What’s your idea of the perfect marriage proposal?”

The cost is $36, which includes a mini makeover for the ladies before the event, she said.

When participants make their reservations on Speedladating.com women can choose to have a makeover.

“It’s a nice little fun perk for the women, and it’s been really popular,” Lauren said.

While several of the couples who have met at her events are still dating, none have married, she said.

“Some of them come together to other speed-dating events,” she said. “Others have networked through it.”

The most popular range age group that participates is 21 to 35.

Following Tuesday’s introduction to the Glendale area, Lauren hopes to make the Jewel City a regular stop for the event, as well as Burbank, Pasadena, Hollywood and Marina del Rey. Before Tuesday, the quick-date events were only in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas.


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