The story began like this: a hotel establishment in La Felguera invited single men and women from all over Asturias to go on blind dates. It was billed as a live version of the “First Dates” program, broadcast daily on Cuatro. They promised to “find their better half” through a compatibility test. The response surprised the organizers themselves: more than six hundred people signed up. “First Encounters” dinners are now held every Tuesday.

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The question is almost mandatory: Where is the success of this initiative? According to sociologist Jacobo Blanco, dean of the College of Sociologists and Political Sciences of Asturias, the massive response is linked to “the fascination that television continues to exert” and also to the “dating rituals” that are part of human nature itself. Psychologist Eva Parrilla adds another factor: the need for “connection” between people and the wear and tear of online “dating” apps, such as the well-known Tinder.

As it was, the fact is that in the establishment they are “full” every Tuesday. Every week, about thirty couples go to the “love restaurant”. “What is clear is that television continues to fascinate,” says Blanco. So much so that many cannot resist a “live reproduction” of one of the most popular programs: “Despite the payment platforms, this is a sample of the success of a traditional medium”, he points out.

And about the love? According to Eva Parrilla, “Human beings need connection. Be it romantic, sexual or sexual and romantic”. “There is a certain need to connect, to like, to have some kind of interest; a ‘refreshment’, as it has always been called in Asturias.”

So live “first dates” can be a good way to find that connection. Not only for comfort, points out Blanco, but also for speed. “We have a need to have things now. Also in human relations”, he says. The figure of “Pagafantas”, the eternal “friend” who waits for the girl of her dreams while he invites her, “doesn’t like it”. Therefore, such events “promise the possibility of speed dating.” A dinner to decide if there’s a spark or not.

Even faster, yes, are online “dating” apps. Tinder promises that you can meet that special someone by choosing from a carousel of photos. “Yes, that’s fine and it may seem easy at first glance,” Parrilla points out. But the reality seems to be different: “It turns out that it is not so easy to flirt with the algorithms involved. Judging by the results of this type of event, the return to traditional face-to-face dating is more and more popular”.

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A word of caution for those really looking for Cupid: “Many people may have signed up just for the laughs.” In fact, as attendees of the second “First Dates” dinner at La Felguera confirmed, at least two girls were left waiting for their partner to show up. The problem with signing up “for a laugh” is that the other person is serious and looking to find love. One piece of advice for leaving with your heart intact is to go with low expectations. Although nothing is written, Eva Parrilla remembers: “There are moments when you are closed to love and, suddenly, the connection appears. Something like that can happen in these events that, even if you go for fun, you can end up connecting with the another person.”

Love, which turns the world. For this reason, many seek it tirelessly. As a last point, Jacobo Blanco draws attention to the age profile that, according to the organization, is the most common: from thirty to forty and from fifty to sixty. The former, considers the sociologist, may be the “last bachelors” of the generation. The latter, almost certainly, are people who are divorced or separated -or who have left a long relationship- and want to get excited again.