Arts & Culture News

I Went Crate Dating, but Failed to Make Beautiful Music

It's 8 p.m. and I plop myself down at the bar at Off the Record in Deep Ellum. My Uber driver had just given me a grand tour of the area, telling me what hospital she was born in and where in the hood she grew up. To forget about the Uber ride and try to ease the pain of the adventure I'm about to embark on, I ask the bartender for a glass of alcohol. Anything will do.

I'm there for this bar/record store's speed-dating event called Crate Dating. Instead of usual ways of finding a mate -- quickly looking at a picture online and swiping left or right or filling out a million and one questions on a profile -- Crate Dating is for the music lovers in all of us. You browse the collection of Off the Record's records, choose one and put it into the crate matching your status (women seeking men, men seeking men, etc.). Then, in my case, a man will pick a record that interests him and you're matched depending on that. After that, it's pretty much speed dating.

One beer and 30 minutes later, I've made two new friends and we're all growing anxious. They were also there to find a husband or wife or fling or good story. We grill the bartender on when this whole thing is going to get going. He calls the person in charge and tells us it doesn't start until 9. We were a little irritable because the Facebook page said an hour earlier.

He shuts us up with a shot.

At about 9 p.m., with still no sign of anything getting underway, I take it upon myself to start chatting with the eligible men in the room. I spy two men browsing the record selections and decide to test the waters. We chat about school and fraternities, SAE and racism -- pretty much everything but the records in front of us -- until I see someone I actually know at the bar.

I leave the men I had named Colleyville Men, after their hometown, to have a beer with my friend and her boyfriend. While sitting and catching up, a woman comes around to the tables and tells us to go ahead and pick a record. There weren't a ton of records to choose from, and definitely nothing that interested me (Ed Sheeran, Beach Boys, Britney Spears), so I picked the ET soundtrack. I don't know why. It's possible that the last time I even saw ET was when Drew Barrymore was still on drugs, but the decision was made.

I put my lucky ET soundtrack in the crate titled "Women seeking men" and sit back down. Nothing was organized. People were mingling with one another left and right. It's impossible to know who is there for Crate Dating and who just wants a drink. But, within a couple of minutes, out of nowhere a beautiful blonde Russian woman approaches me with the ET record and tells me her friend chose it. I have no idea how she knew that record belonged to me, but I went along with it.

She takes me over to her table with her friends and one male. We'll call him Man Bun, because, you guessed it, he has a man bun. We introduced ourselves and do the little ET-finger-to-finger thing. I meet the three women he brought along with him as I suppose security guards/people hired to troll me. One is the Russian, one a married woman, and the other is his assistant at work. Man Bun and I begin getting to know each other, but it's soon apparent I'm human and they are hungry sharks waiting to pounce. Questions I'm asked by his three girlfriends:

What do you do for a living? How old are you? Where do you live? (After telling them Uptown, I was met with a warm, "Oh, we call that Uptight." Good one.) What do you read? Who's your favorite band? Who did you vote for in the last election?

That last question was actually real. I realize it's speed dating -- dating, sadly, while not on actual speed -- and I guess everything is accelerated, but I just felt like Man Bun and I would never amount to anything with his posse. I excuse myself to the restroom and never return.

As I wait outside, I ask myself, "Did I really shave my legs for this? Where was that Deanna Carter album?" As I ponder, the bartender comes to check on me. I tell him I'm hiding from my date and his friends. He tells me that they knew they ran me off.

It might have been just because of the free shot, but the bartender is the only one from last night I would date.

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Paige Skinner has written for the Dallas Observer since 2014.
Contact: Paige Skinner