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Date Traders

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With the Dow's pulchritudinous advances over the past few years essentially erased, are Wall Streeters still sexy? Apparently so, since recessionary concerns didn't seem to dampen the exuberance at the "Most Eligible People on Wall Street" initial public offering at ABC Carpet & Home April 3. Four hundred and fifty donned Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses and casual-Fridays khakis to see if they could get a strong buy from any of the 50 banker bachelors and banker bachelorettes (culled from 1,000 nominees by Samantha Daniels, matchmaker from Samantha's Table).

A list of the winners, complete with personal tidbits like "collects wrestling figurines" or "tree skier," was handed out to arriving limited partners who bum-rushed the makeshift bars sandwiched in between jewelry cases full of cocktail rings and displays of Tiffany-esque lamps. One thing for sure: The Wall Streeters thought their biggest assets were what they did off the trading floor. "So you used to be a showgirl in Vegas?" said one finalist to another after scanning her bio. "This is the penny-candy addict I wanted you to meet!" said Daniels, clutching a digital camera and dragging a tall blonde through the throng.

Over by a stack of throw pillows, another thirtysomething finalist, noted for his landscape artistry, professed his love for ornamental grasses. "But my favorite flowers are peonies," he offered. The last three women he'd dated included a ballerina; a nonprofit executive, "which shows selflessness and also business acumen," he noted; and a "Japanese masseuse. Just kidding!"

Still, one has to wonder, do Wall Streeters -- no matter how eligible -- really want to date their own kind? "If you ask a guy, greater than 50 percent of the time -- okay, arguably 75 percent -- they're not looking for Wall Street women," said an investment banker in a yellow tie. He thinks for a minute. "Actually greater than 75 percent."

But these days, even for dual-MBA relationships, the hard facts of a bear-market courtship cannot be denied. "There'll be less going out and drinking Dom, and more 'Let's find an interesting restaurant that offers great food at decent prices,' " says the 39-year-old managing partner of a hedge fund. "Do you know Pastis? People are going to Pastis instead of Le Bernardin or Jean Georges."


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