Kate Christensen hesitated to attend the Quick Connect speed dating activity, but didn’t have plans.
“(Some) think that creepy people that don’t date very often and are desperate (go),” said Christensen, a member of the Provo YSA 14th Stake and a December BYU graduate.
Going in, Christensen said she expected to have fun but not necessarily meet someone.
“I thought, ‘I don’t have plans, so I’ll go and support the stake and enjoy myself, eat some free food and talk to some people,'” she said.
Once a month, two men and two women from each ward in the Provo YSA 14th Stake volunteer to play the Quick Connect game. The task is daunting for some, but there is the underlying hope that they can find love.
In March, more than 50 men and women attended the Quick Connect activity. Participants arrived at the Pioneer Chapel at 7 p.m. Some looked eager, others were skeptical, and a few had clearly not made up their minds about how they felt about speed dating.
They checked in and picked scorecards, a quick connect number and a name tag so they could rank members of the opposite sex throughout the night.
For the first 30 minutes, participants played games and ate treats provided by the stake committee. Many came with friends and were allowed to stay in those groups.
But after 30 minutes, participants were walked down the stairs and separated into three rooms. Each room was filled with tables donned in bright tablecloths, their surfaces covered in candy and bright cardstock.
The women sat on one side of the table, and men sat on the other. Every few minutes a member of the Quick Connect Committee came in and told them to switch. The men then stood and moved to the next table. Sometimes it was hasty. Other times they continued talking to their partner until they were tapped on the shoulder by the next man who was eager to take his seat.
On the pieces of cardstock were conversation starters. The substance and style change every month. In March, it was styled after the game “Coke or Pepsi?” Participants asked “Mac or PC?” “Tree house or boat cabin?” and so forth.
“We use conversation starters to help people who might struggle connecting or finding topics of conversation. (People) who are able to easily have a conversation don’t really use them,” said James Grant, a member of the Quick Connect Committee.
Participants have only a few minutes to judge someone. All the while, they rank each other on score cards.
“A “1” is someone you’re highly interested in. A “2” is someone you’re slightly interested in but perhaps not as excited about, and if you’re not interested in someone, then we ask you to leave it blank,” Grant explained to the group.
The cards are designed to be anonymous so no one feels bad if they are not interested in a girl or guy. Some participants said they felt pressured to rank people higher out of politeness, while others were completely honest.
The activity lasted until 9 p.m., but several participants went upstairs and continued to talk.
When the night was over, the Quick Connect Committee took the scorecards and looked for matches. If a man and woman ranked each other well, the committee emailed the man the email and number of the woman. By evening’s end, each person who came was matched up.
Christensen, who hadn’t participated in a speed dating activity since her freshman year, was surprised by how much fun she had.
“I really enjoyed it! I wasn’t expecting it to be as fun as it was, to be honest, but I liked it,” she said. Christensen called it a “cool opportunity to get to meet people (I) normally would not have met.”
The games started under the direction of the stake president as a way to help members of the stake get to know one another. Stake High Council member Mel Sevy and his wife, Vanessa, were tasked with creating a speed dating activity but were asked to “change it up” to make it more appealing.
Part of the appeal is that the activity is not just about dating, but also about meeting new people and finding friends.
“It’s just connecting with other people and making friends,” Vanessa Sevy explained.
Grant said the Provo YSA 14th Stake is not the only stake with a Quick Connect or Quick Connect-like activity.
“We are not the first, and we’ve trained other stakes to do it as well,” he said, estimating that a half-dozen had been trained.
So thankfully, speed dating is not as horrifying as some imagine. And according to the Quick Connect Committee, the outcome can be extremely rewarding.
“We come in with a lot of uneasy people,” Grant said. But at the end of the night, people are glad they came. “Almost 100 percent of the people, I’d say, are surprised by how much they enjoyed it.”