Speed dating in Buenos Aires. In Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish.

Have you noticed the trend towards making everything unisex lately?

Take toilets for example. I wandered into my recently refurbished local in Sydney right before leaving for Buenos Aires, and after a couple of beverages went to track down el bano. After twice wandering past a door marked ‘WO|MEN’, I went against my better man-instincts (‘manstincts’) and relented to asking for directions at the bar.

“It’s a unisex toilet. The door down there on the right, with the ‘WO’- ‘MEN’ on it.” Right. “Don’t you think that might be a bit confusing?” I said. “Don’t girls just see that as the girls loo – kind of a fancy way of writing ‘WOMEN’ – and guys wander around looking for theirs?”. Nope, apparently not.

So off I head, Only to walk in on an early 20s-something in high heels and a short dress adjusting her upper support garment. Who promptly turns around, screws up her face and yells at me “What are you doing in the womens? Get out!”.

And what’s the natural response in that situation? You make it worse by trying to explain of course:

“No no, it’s a fancy sign – ‘WO’-‘MEN’. It’s unisex. I haven’t done anything wrong. Why are you taking your stilettos off? Wh…why are you walking towards me with one of them raise above your head? How did I end up trapped in the corner? If I curl up in a ball on the floor will you think I’m dead and leave me alone?”.

Never complain, never explain fellas. Just get out.

What’s this got to do with speed dating in Buenos Aires? How do I put this succinctly…ever heard of unisexual speed dating?

confused bush

Always read the fine print

I’m here for a month, and I figure what better way to meet some fun, outgoing people to help show me the city and nurture my Spanglish than through speed dating. Even better, there’s a collection of companies that specifically run speed-dating setups based around language exchange – Argentinians that want to practice their English, meeting English speakers wanting to practice their Spanish. What could go wrong?

The group (who shall remain nameless) that I chose to go with bills the night on its website as 8-12 ‘dates’ of 10 minutes each, spent speaking 5 minutes in Spanish followed by 5 minutes in English. It then goes on to say that it welcomes both people looking to find a date, and those just looking to improve their language skills. Seemingly pretty straight forward, I anticipated my greatest challenge lying in the 4 minutes and 52 seconds of Spanish conversation remaining after I had said ‘Hola, me llamo Nick. Como estas?’. However that was a mere speed bump compared to what was to come.

You see billing the event as the group had – and what with Buenos Aires being a very gay-friendly city – it meant that in practice you had 6 different types of people rocking up:

1) Girls just looking to practice a language skill
2) Girls looking to practice a language skill and meet a guy
3) Girls looking to practice a language skill and meet a girl
4) Guys looking to practice a language skill
5) Guys looking to practice a language skill and meet a girl

and you can see where this is going…

6) Guys looking to practice a language skill and meet a guy

Confused? I certainly was. Although not in my orientacion sexual, otherwise my first ‘date’ with a nice chap by the name of Marco would have gone swimmingly.

Marco of the short-sleeved tight shirt. Marco of the tight, tight leather pants. Marco from Vu-en-e-su-weyla (it was all in the pronunciation). Marco of the very expensive – and very fashionable darling – tortoise shell Gucci frames.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m totally on board with the free-love train. I’ve just got a ticket to the guys-who-like-girls carriage. Not the hombres who like hombres carriage.

So a bit of a rocky start, but once we’d established that I had been put at table 3 (I didn’t have a choice in the matter) to learn Spanish only, and Marco recovered from what must have been crushing disappointment, we actually had a good chat and I learnt a lot of Spanish.

In the end the hosts were very engaging, working to include everyone in the breaks and introducing people to keep the language practice flowing, and I found the night quite worthwhile. If you’re interested, contact me here and I’ll give you the name of the group that I used – just make sure you don’t rock up in skinny jeans and Guccis. Unless that’s your thing.

At the end of the night half the group (about 30 people in total, so a decent turnout) headed home while the rest went off to a club. Having had enough surprises for one evening I decided not to take my chances on just exactly what type of club people were going to, opting instead for another of the region’s excellent Malbecs and CSI: Miama en Espanol.

And nope, the show doesn’t make anymore sense in another language.

Hasta luego mi amigos!


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About Nick Berry

Born, raised and incubated across Melbourne, Sydney, Hong Kong and London, after 8 years in stock broking I'm now exploring new horizons. Come join me and I'll do my best to keep you entertained!

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