Arjun Venkataswamy stood before 50 other Chicago singles Wednesday and within four minutes, the crowd had learned he's fond of teaching and a photo gag that isn't appropriate to repeat in a family newspaper.
"It's not difficult at all," Venkataswamy, 26, said about sharing his personal stories in front of a room of strangers.
Venkataswamy, of Wicker Park, was one of about a dozen Chicagoans who presented their stories at a Me So Far event on the Near North Side for singles who live or work off the CTA Red and Brown Lines. An event next year for Red and Blue Line singles is in the works.
The idea behind Me So Far, which runs themed events beyond transit, is that singles should get to the second- and third-date material before starting with dealbreakers. Some participants answer questions that Me So Far provides in a presentation that's supposed to provide conversation material among the crowd.
Lauren Haynes, 27, said the key to sharing is letting your guard down. In her presentation, she shared a photo of a friend who, for Halloween, dressed as a guy with a keg on the CTA, emulating a photo that went viral on Reddit.
Haynes, who lives near the Addison Brown Line, said living off the same transit line as a significant other "makes things easier."
Venkataswamy, who lives off the Damen Blue Line stop, agrees. "It's like the Blue Line and everyone else kind of mentality."
Tips for singles at mixers
"Going Public" attended Wednesday's Me So Far singles event and gathered a couple of tips for Chicagoans interested in future events.
>> Pace yourself. The event, at a sushi restaurant, started at 6:30 p.m., and the happy hour mingling began at 9 p.m. Eat beforehand and pace the cocktails.
>> Bring a friend. Many of the participants seemed approachable, but singles events seem less frightening with a friend.
>> Check shyness at the door. Even if a participant is not scheduled to present in front of the crowd, he or she will probably have to get up and speak anyway through games that are played between the presentations.
>> Follow the rules. The format seems to be rigid. Towards the end of the night, participants have probably already chatted with a handful of people but the conversations have to be put on hold through the rest of the presentations and announcements.
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