4 Apr 2024

Instadate: A speed dating service for Cantabrians 'over the apps'

From Nights, 9:30 pm on 4 April 2024

After three disappointing years on dating apps, Canterbury woman Beaulieu Matthews founded the speed dating service Instadate last year.

Now she hosts speed dating events and tells funny anecdotes about her own bad dates as icebreakers.

Beaulieu Matthews, founder of the Canterbury speed dating service Instadate

Beaulieu Matthews, founder of the Canterbury speed dating service Instadate Photo: Alden Williams / The Press

After COVID, Matthews found herself "single and ready to mingle" and gave dating apps a try.

She joined Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and EliteSingles, which she doesn't recommend: "They have the worst algorithm, never try them."

Yet after going on many dates, all Matthews was left with were "stories of bad experiences".

One architect, in the middle of their dinner, suddenly declared that his "real passion" was magic.

"Suddenly the whole night turned into 'dinner and a show'. Coins were involved, my money got involved..."

She then decided it was best to get to know the next person by chatting for a few weeks before they met.

The next contender turned out to have a foot fetish, she says, and very specific taste in trotters.

"He was so disappointed when I arrived because I was wearing sneakers. I was like 'what's wrong?' because I immediately picked it up. He goes 'I was hoping to see your feet'.

"I ended up taking off one of my shoes. I mean, you've done the makeup, you've done the parking, you might as well go ahead.

"I showed my feet and he was like 'Yep, let's get the cheque'."

On dating apps, people often present a fantasy version of themselves that they're trying to pretend to be, Matthews says. But busy single people don't have time to waste on illusions.

"We work hard, we play hard and the time that we have is precious. We don't want to waste the time talking to someone for four weeks and then find out they're a bit of a weirdo."

Kiwis in midlife are now seeking ways to meet new people face-to-face, Matthews says, so they can immediately know if there's any kind of connection. 

"People know what they want and they know what they don't want. No time wasters, let's put it that way."

Matthew tries to keep her speed dating events - which are usually attended by about 20 to 25 people - "very casual".

"This is not a boot camp. It's a lot of people coming together just to meet each other and they just get very natural about it. Basically, they just show up, have a drink and then we immediately get into it.

"The women sit down and the men will rotate. I tell them just have fun with it, maybe ask how their day was because that's the best way to really find out what someone's about in three or four minutes."

Speed dating isn't just for those looking for love, she says, some people are happy to make new friends.

"So many times I've seen the older age group actually walk away and go have a beer or have some drinks afterwards or create their own Whatsapp group."

Many times she has witnessed a romantic "spark" quickly come to life.

"People literally have a conversation and within a few seconds, they already know if this is someone they want to continue talking to or if they don't want to continue talking to."

And sometimes, for some lucky people, "magic" happens.

"This man and woman sat next to each other and then they came up to me and said 'You know what, we're not going to finish this. We'd love to go to dinner' and they leave.

"The next day the guy actually sent me an email and apologised that they didn't finish, because it throws a bit of a spanner in the works, but he thinks he found 'the one'. Honestly, I think I saw the spark."