In a world where there is an app for everything, especially dating, one woman is offering a service that uses a much older method of getting people together.
The Dinner Party is the brainchild of Andrea Hill, a former Penticton resident, who is returning to the Okanagan this month to try her dating service here.
“Here is online dating and apps to help us connect with the people, but they are doing the opposite. I am bringing it back old school to get people to connect in an authentic and genuine way, in person,” said Hill.
The Dinner Party brings eight to 12 people together, evenly divided between the sexes, for an evening of conversation and dining.
“Who doesn’t enjoy going to a dinner party? And the majority of time people are used to attending a dinner party and not knowing everyone at the table,” said Hill. “It is not a face-to-face, one-on-one date, so it takes away the awkwardness.”
The group setting, she explains, also encourages people to be themselves, rather than trying to impress your date or try to project something you are not. In addition, Hill is there for every dinner as host.
“I am your wing girl, I am your familiar face and I make introductions, but typically every dinner I host, they don’t really need me. I am just there to watch all the really cool things happen,” she said.
Hill interviews all the guests ahead of time, in what she calls discovery sessions, in order to bring together compatible groups of people. Afterwards, she talks to the guests again to find out if there was anyone they were interested in connecting with.
“Typically, I give some gentle coaching to both, more to the guys, because they are going to initiate arranging a date and then I send them on their way,” said Hill.
The Dinner Party didn’t start out as a business, but rather as a reaction to what Hill saw going on in the Vancouver dating scene; both her own experiences and those of friends of both genders. Apps like Tinder, and others, along with dating websites didn’t seem to be working.
“How people were connecting was becoming more and more dysfunctional,” said Hill.
There were all these new tools to help expand their reach and meet new people, but Hill said it seemed like behaviour in the dating world is becoming more poor, with people misrepresenting themselves through online services and “a lot of flakey behaviour.”
“Myself, and my girlfriends, and guy friends, people were becoming more disillusioned and cynical about dating in general,” said Hill. “Just for a fun thing to do once a month, and to create some change, I started hosting dinner parties. I would arrange them at fun establishments. I am a real foodie, I love going out and enjoying a wonderful meal.
“I would spend a little time with person and see what it was they were looking for and then put groups together that I thought would hit it off.”
Word got out about Hill’s dinner parties and with more people asking about them, she decided to make a go of it.
Hill said she has had strong interest in the Okanagan so far. Typically, the Dinner Party service attracts people in the 30 to 60-year-old age range, but for the Okanagan, Hill said it has been skewing to the mature end of the scale.
“It is my first time bringing the Dinner Party to the Okanagan. I lived there for a number of years, I know dating in the valley can be a bit challenging,” said Hill, who is recruiting for a dinner party planned for July 23.
In this case, she said, the group is in the 55-plus range, and she is looking for more men than women.
“It’s a great group of professionals and active community members,” she said.
For the Okanagan, Hill is waiving the $100 membership fee, so guests will only be responsible for the $100 dinner fee.
More information about the Dinner Party is available online at jointhedinnerparty.com, on Facebook at The Dinner Party Vancouver or on Twitter @jointhedp. Hill can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.