Dating in London

We give you the best chance of finding love in the capital...

London Focus

Despite having a population of over eight million, dating isn’t easy in the capital. The English are famous for being guarded, if not downright shy when compared to our French and Italian neighbours. And this whole thing about finding the love of your life in a supermarket aisle, when you both pick up the last packet of French beans, does that actually ever happen?

No is the short answer, but that’s where we come in. Remember that the old adage rings true, if you love yourself, others will follow. Smile, have fun, and others will pick up on your positive vibes, man. We’ve got a few pointers to guide you on your dating adventure, whether you’re young, less young, gay or straight.

Where to go

So where do you start? Well, for a while at least, accept every invitation that comes your way. You’ll soon figure out what is and isn’t for you, and where you think you’ll be more likely to meet potential partners. But the more you put yourself out there, the more chances there are to make new acquaintances, friends and possibly more, whether it’s at weddings, club nights, private views or tango lessons.

A small amount of inebriation helps to get people talking, however without wanting to generalise, nightclub and bar pick-ups do not usually lead to long-term romance. That being said, for flirtation and a bit of no strings attached fun these are the most obvious places to go. Check out the best bars for singles here.

If you like dancing into the small hours head to a nightclub. Dance music fans should check out Corsica Studios, Cable, Plastic People or a warehouse party, however these places are more about dancing than out-and-out flirting. Fabric strikes a balance between having a serious music policy and let’s face it, being a bit of a meat market at times, but generally West End nightclubs are more about pairing up with members of the opposite sex rather than immersing yourself in deep house. \n\nTo meet members of the same sex, try the bars on Old Compton Street and dotted around Soho, like Escape, Green Carnation, and G.A.Y. The clubs in Vauxhall are a little more hardcore, or there’s Horsemeat Disco every Sunday night at the Eagle which is very friendly and relaxed. For ladies there is a lot less choice sadly, although there are a few events that run on a monthly or weekly basis, such as Ruby Tuesdays at Ku Bar and Code at Green Carnation. The longest-running bar is Candy Bar, and currently happens to be the only dedicated lesbian bar in the capital.

Singles events

London has plenty of events aimed specifically at singles looking to mingle. Speed dating can be a good bet, as events are aimed at different age groups and sexual preferences, and some are themed to take the awkwardness out of the whole job interview-style questionnaire. For example Grapevine Social combines speed dating with wine tasting. You can also find others that take place in museums and art galleries. Alternatively there is slow dating, where each “date” is longer (by which we mean six minutes instead of three), there’ll be less participants, and the venue will be quieter and more intimate than at traditional speed dating events.

If you’d prefer something more relaxed you could try a themed tour for singletons. The ones at Go West are good if you don’t know the city, taking you round attractions like the London Eye and Portobello Road Market.
\n\nThe Internet

Once upon a time the general public looked down on internet dating, as if it was a last resort for people who didn’t stand a chance of meeting anyone any other way. It has now lost its stigma, and is as good a way of meeting potential candidates as any other, especially if you are pushed for time.

But internet dating is not without its pitfalls, it may take some time till you find someone compatible, however success stories do happen. And remember to always let a friend know where you are when you’re meeting someone for the first time.

Other stuff

Who said you have to stick to activities aimed at singles? If you like meeting people generally, whether just as friends or for something more, go to talks or take up a dance class. Pick an area that interests you and you’ll automatically have at least one thing in common with everyone else there, usually.

At the Carnaby Book Exchange you can bring a book to leave behind and take one away completely free. There is seating here too for you to sit down and have a read; think of it as a more sociable, quirky library.

The School of Life has talks and workshops in philosophy, finding the job of your dreams, confidence, and even improving your online dating skills.

Supperclubs are one-off dinners hosted in private homes and unusual spaces. Tables are shared so diners talk to each other throughout the meal, and although couples and groups of friends do go, there are often a fair few people who turn up alone to socialise. Disappearing Dining Club has dancing too, and Gingerline feature performances so there’s no chance of any awkward silences.

If you like throwing parties, why not host a soirée and get your guests to each bring a single friend?

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