Speed dating zips into I.D.

Alas, few love connections made
By Chris S. Nishiwaki

In the 21st-century version of the junior high dance, 20 single Asian women and more than 30 single Asian men gathered at The Standard in Chinatown/International District last weekend.

The women, prim and proper, sat at assigned tables armed with a bevy of questions. Every three minutes, the men rotated from one table to the next to answer the questions and ask some of their own.

It’s speed dating, as today’s crazy kids call it.

I took my investigative reporting skills to a new level and talked to a few of the eligible singles, all of them in their 20s and 30s. And sure enough, just like at a junior high dance, the boys gave their own versions of “I didn’t like her anyway.” And the women? They said they were looking for more maturity.

“I am just here to have fun, meet some people, mostly as friends,” said one bachelor. “This is pretty superficial.”

Another bachelor chimed in, ”I don’t have a problem meeting friends. This is just a good way to meet more people. I don’t’ know how effective it is a way to meet your mate.”

Two 33-year-old gals lamented that they interviewed too many bachelors who were in their 20s. They were looking for more mature adults.

“I am looking for someone older,” said the first bachelorette. “It was kind of awkward.”

The second said, “I am looking for someone who is ready to settle down. Have some direction is life.”

Saturday’s mateing ritual was part of a promotional tour and an extension of Click2Asia, the self-anointed premier online dating destination for Asians. The Pasadena, Calif.-based service is looking for what company executives say is a piece of the multibillion-dollar pie that is online dating. Started as an online community in 1997, it morphed into a dating site two years ago. The site now features upwards of 150,000 members.

Catering to single Asians, the main distinction from industry leaders Match.com and Yahoo Personals is the members’ ethnicity choice divided among 17 Asian groups (everything from Japanese, Chinese and Korean to Hmong and multiracial/hapa), in addition to African American, Caucasian, Hispanic and the ominous “other.”

“We offer the Korean single lady who wants to find a nice Korean man the focus to do that. On other online dating services, when you click ‘Asian,’ what does that mean?”, said Gary Lee, Click2Asiai’s director of business and marketing.

Lee concedes that online dating is still not yet widely accepted – especially not in the Asian community.

“I understand there’s a stigma to online dating,” Lee said. “In our culture, we are very reserved. Our culture is about honor, respect. This is putting you out there.”

“You can get anything on the Internet. Might as well get a date."