Speed Roommating is a lot like speed dating, but instead of finding someone to share your life with, you just need to find someone who can share your cramped apartment for the length of your lease. The organizers, from SpareRoom.com, have been hosting regular meetups in Manhattan, and this week they held their first Brooklyn mixer.
When I arrive at the Montrose, a Scottish pub in Park Slope, I'm relieved to see there's no five-minute bell, no mad dash for the next interview, no frenzied attempt to impress. (Well, not the frenzied part, anyway.) Instead, there are white name tags for those who have a place to offer, and pink for those looking. Imagine how much simpler dating would be if everyone who entered a bar had to paste on a sticker that made it clear if they were looking for a hookup or not.
One white-stickered woman is all business, head bowed, notepad in hand, scribbling answers to her questions. Two guys exchange numbers nearby. "I'll send you an email," says the guy in a button-down shirt. "Another thing I should say …" He pauses, takes a breath, then launches into a circuitous explanation: Though he works for the city, he's also a musician, and will sometimes practice at home. "Are you home mostly?" he asks.
Janie, a college student looking for a sublet, sits against the glass window. It's her first time attending a Speed Roommating event, and while she hasn't had much luck, she's a fan. "You get more of a sense of who someone is. Sometimes with texts, you can't really judge someone's character," she says.
A few seats away from her, a woman who self-identifies on her name tag as "Kimchi" has just finished talking to a potential roomie. She has a bedroom with an en suite bath available in her Bed-Stuy duplex — no pets, please — and she shows off pictures of them. "I think in today's culture, Speed Roommating is a viable resource," she says. "I think you can get a vibe and an energy, whether you'd be a good fit or not."
I ask her about the guy she was just talking to. It might not work out. "He's really sweet. He's getting a feel for what's out there. He's not moving till July, and my place has been available for three months."
"It's a little like trying to meet someone at a bar, isn't it?"
"Yeah. It is. You put your best foot forward, but hey, you don't have to sleep with him," she says, laughing. "Unless you want to! I mean, roommates with benefits, it does happen. But I'm afraid to cross that line."
She picks up her drink and circles the place, stopping to say hi to two guys by the front door. They say they're planning on becoming roommates. "Oh, you worked that out already? So I'm wasting my time?" She smiles, and waves good-bye.
I ask her if it's disappointing to hear that people are finding someone to work with while she's still looking. "Nah. I'm happy for them. Absolutely. That's life. You really have to put yourself out there," she says. "I'm learning that with the dating scene, too. You kind of have to be aggressive. There's a small window of opportunity, and it may never come again."
And like the friend who didn't need to play wing-woman anymore for her pal at the bar, I take my leave.