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Just as trendiness has spawned the dating app phenomenon, it has also brought people back to practices they consider nostalgic, like dance lessons, love letters, and now, speed-dating.Woman Number 10, who is Chinese, has brought along her friend Lin.They stand for the next 15 minutes nervously twiddling straws and re-tucking shirts. Since the advent of Tinder, Grindr, Tingle, and numerous other dating apps, the attention span of the dating world has shrunk.At a conference in Los Angeles earlier this year, Tinder CEO Sean Rad told press that the app now matches 10 million people every day.While Number 10 is dating, Lin sits by me and watches the scene.I ask her why she came along.“My friend just wanted some support,” she says. In China, her parents are telling her that she needs to find somebody, she needs to date. ”“Oh,” I say, trying to cover up that I find her story sad.

They want to see the "merchandise," but they still like the idea of choice.

But at speed-dating, baggage comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s extra freckles, extra hair, the way we laugh, or the fact that we subconsciously put on a cockney accent when we’re around cockney people. And no matter how we choose to date, we can’t really Even at speed-dating, you can’t just up and leave. ”I feel a sense of loyalty to my speed-daters – why should this online opportunity interrupt our three-minute rhythm?

As I start the timer for the next round, the conversation gets going again, hands being clasped and shaken, preparatory sips of wine taken hurriedly from glasses. Does the mystery Fish man just have better bone structure than the 10 men present?

Together, they are a unique group that tells an overlooked part of the story of how we meet each other in 2014.

* * *Man Number One is blind and arrives a lot earlier than the other daters.