Standing together at the delta of three different corridors, three Deadpools masquerading as Super Mario, Luigi and Wario joked together. Then, the Mario of the group – chain chomp in hand – departed his compatriots and joined the growing line near him. Someone in the line made a comment about his costume, to which the Mario-pool made an unprintable reply while fondling his ball like chain-chomp.
Such was the entourage who had gathered for Sci-Fi Speed Dating at this year’s Comic Con. Deep in the bowels of the Denver Colorado Convention Center, two lines had formed outside room 304. The sexes were split into two lines, one for the boys and the other for girls.
An LGBTQ session was also held the day before, with another session planned Sunday for those so inclined. How the logistics of the line split, handled exclusively for those identifying as the “T” in the acronym, remains an open question.
“[Sci Fi Speed Dating] allows for geeky people to meet other nerdy, geeky people,” said Nichole Young, who was cosplaying that day as a rather fetching mermaid going by the name Bera Cuda.
The goal of the event, she said, was to help alleviate anxiety when meeting someone new and establish a rapport between people that share similar interests.
In that respect, Sci-Fi speed dating has been very successful. The event’s founder, Ryan Glitch, holds the event at least 45 times a year as he hops from convention to convention.
Glitch founded the event after attending a similar one at a convention more than six years ago. He found the experience poorly executed, and after making noise about his experience ended up being invited to run his own.
Glitch’s event has been here since Denver Comic Con was founded in 2012. Receipts from the event are enough for Glitch to make a living from it. He is eying an expansion into Canada, as soon as he can get his passport sorted out.
“This is a blast,” Glitch said. “This is my baby and my dog.”
Sci FI Speed Dating can also be counted as a success by other metrics. Over the six years that Glitch has held speed dating, there have been 83 marriages, between 42 and 45 engagements and 21 babies since.
The women file into the room first, one after the other, and sit with their backs to the wall. They are paired off with an empty chair, and the arrangement circles around the room with a single column extending into the center of the room. There are empty seats between some of the girls, while others are clustered together.
Meanwhile, the boys begin to enter. They take their seats, filling up the majority of spaces available; some are left to stare at an empty seat. By now everyone has a number affixed to their shirt, and possesses a pen and index card.
Glitch, assuming the Moniker of Speed Dating Guy, introduces the rules and sets the tone. A boisterous host, he explains to the participants that no names are to be swapped, no drunken or high people are allowed, and that each couple has three minutes to introduce themselves and talk.