A list of names flashed on the TV screen, some familiar to Monica Touby, others less so. One by one, a group of amateur matchmakers paired the names into compatible couples. In an age of dating apps and algorithms, the matchmakers relied on intuition and Facebook stalking to create the best combinations.
A total of 32 couples took part in this year’s Ok Crupid dating event. While some members of Cru, the campus Christian ministry, found a new spark on Saturday, many more gained new friends.
In order to alleviate the potential awkwardness of first encounters, Ok Crupid followed a double date format. This set a casual tone to the evening while allowing established couples to also take part.
“Dating shouldn’t be this big to-do,” Monica said. “You’re just getting to know someone, you don’t have to be in love them.”
After the couples were set, it was up to the guys to make plans and reach out to their dates, whether in person or over the phone. Some opted to spend the evening in Cincinnati at a nice restaurant or the Newport Aquarium, while others stayed local and went bowling at Oxford Lanes.
The dates weren’t entirely blind. Without tipping off their crush, participants could specify if they wanted to be matched with someone in particular.
“We had people taking a leap of faith and being bold by saying, ‘This is who I want to be with,’” Monica said. “But then those people didn’t sign up.”
More often than not, however, Monica said people requested wingmates instead of dates. That way, they’d know going into the night that they’d have a friend at their side to help break the ice.
Initially, the event organizers struggled to get enough guys to sign up. While their turnout improved, girls were still the majority. In order to meet the demand, Cru’s social committee ended up throwing a ladies’ night as well, complete with heart-shaped pizzas from Dominos.
Considering she was one of the matchmakers, Monica’s date came as no surprise. She swears, however, that she did not play favorites.
The two boys in Monica’s group invited her and another girl to go bowling on Saturday. She wasn’t sure what bowling alley food entailed, though, so she ate beforehand.
Once the first game got started, the foursome started asking the basic questions: Where are you from? Do you have siblings? What’s your major? The game kept conversation lively, allowing for different combinations to interact as others went up to bowl.
Monica got two strikes that night, but it wasn’t enough to beat the guys, especially considering one had a long history of bowling with his competitive family.
Next, the group went to Mac and Joe’s for some real food and to talk more about bible study and their favorite TV shows. Monica’s double date then joined the other singles and couples at the “Crupid Shuffle” after-party.
As soon as Monica arrived, her friend Anna Pence rushed over to ask for the night’s play-by-play. The boys, standing close by, were quick to tease Monica for thinking bowling was weird. Anna, who hosted ladies’ night, laughed along.
The downstairs area was for dancing to a Spotify playlist of Valentines songs that Anna had compiled hours before, featuring Walk the Moon, Beyoncé and Jesse McCartney. Monica’s only caveat while Anna put the playlist together: No slow dances.
“No one wants it to be like prom,” Monica said.
Upstairs hosted ping pong, scattergories and other board games for those less interested in dancing. Here, couples could continue to talk without loud music drowning them out.
While Monica appreciated the night’s romantic gestures and was happy to accept a ride home, she said the highlight of the night was seeing all the new interactions between Cru members, making her large organization feel much smaller.