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ÁINE KERRnavigates the social minefield that is Ireland’s dating scene, and meets the movers and shakers IT’S NOT UNUSUAL for motorists to criss-cross lanes of early morning commuter traffic in Melbourne, Australia to fix their gaze on a bus where people are acting strangely, standing up and swapping seats every five to 10 minutes.

The bus, it transpires, is on its way to a Victoria winery and, even at 8.30am, speed dating is already underway.

This, though, is not the case in one central Dublin bar on a recent Wednesday night.

Thirty men and 30 women are first divided into six groups of 10, and then move from restaurant to restaurant for different courses of fine cuisine in the company of single people.

The Australians have become accomplished speed daters, with a growing range of options including tall-men speed dating, university-educated speed dating, toyboy speed dating and globetrotters speed dating.

In the UK, everything from table football and karaoke to silent speed dating is available.

She’s quick to add that she wasn’t on “some desperate man hunt . They don’t give their real names here, conscious of gossiping gardaí, parents or boards of management. “They don’t hold eye contact, they don’t show interest, so you’re left guessing as to whether they want to be chatted up or not.” After a chance sighting of an advert for a singles party on Facebook, what followed was like any other night out, except Sean knew the room contained “potential singles”. I think people just don’t know enough to make a judgment,” says Kate.

Having signed-up for the Singles Supper Safari Club weeks earlier, the paying customers wait patiently for instructions on each of the restaurants and their next team of talkers. so people are doing different things.” And she should know, having spent several years organising singles events in Australia, before winning ,000 (€15,900) on a game show and deciding to invest it in an events company in Ireland.

The logic behind the Supper Safari, organised by founder Avril Mulcahy (29), is simple: “Einstein said it’s insane to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results . Solicitors, sommeliers, band members, radio-show presenters, artists, boutique owners and business people are among the Supper Safari crowd.

“The whole taboo with singles nights, internet dating and the like has to be taken away . The concept is simple: You swot up on your general knowledge, bring a brainiac friend, and tag-team.

There are eight rounds of 10 questions, and tables of four with two men and two women.

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