If you’re single and looking for love — or if you have been in the past decade — you’ve almost certainly tried online dating. Maybe you’ve gone to meet-ups. Perhaps you’ve tried speed dating.
On Friday night, Olympia singles have a new alternative: South Sound’s first Not-Creepy Gathering for People Who Are Single and Want to Fall in Love.
The name is a mouthful, but it’s the “not creepy” part that sets this gathering apart.
The gathering, led by multimedia artist Jenna Bean Veatch of Bellingham, is structured to move singles from nervous (as almost everyone is on arrival, Veatch said) to open and ready to connect.
“It starts out fun and funny with me basically doing stand-up comedy to get people loosened up and having fun and feeling safe enough to trust me and trust each other so that we can eventually go deeper together,” Veatch told The Olympian.
She doesn’t like to give away too much about what will happen, but revealed that it’s a combination of group activities, small-group discussion — centered around answering such questions as “What’s your favorite emotion?” — and writing exercises.
“There’s some helpful structure, so people aren’t having to figure out how to do small talk,” she said. “This is aimed at going beyond the surface both in our conversations and in how we meet people, not just basing our impressions on how somebody looks.”
The event is open to adults of all ages, genders and sexual orientations, and Veatch encourages people to connect with a broad range of other participants, not just with potential romantic partners.
“I felt at ease immediately,” said Talya Erez of Olympia, who’s hosting Friday’s gathering at Woodard Bay Cohousing. “I never used to go to singles events, because they’re usually just for straight people. This is for all people.
“It’s sweet; it’s short; it’s focused,” she added. “I love going to her events.”
She’s such a fan that she’s attended three of the gatherings.
Veatch has plenty of other fans, too. This will be her 30th gathering since she began helping people find people in 2015. Previous events in Seattle, Bellingham, Portland and the San Francisco Bay Area have drawn crowds of as many as 80 people.
People have found love, she said, adding, “There is a not creepy baby who will be born any minute now.”
While the desire for a romantic partner is the explicit goal, the gathering is about building connections of all kinds, Veatch said.
“There have been lots of friendships formed,” she said. “A real friend is a pretty special thing, and if somebody walks away from the event with that, that feels like a total success.
“I know people who have become roommates with people they met at the event or European-travel buddies,” she added.
And Erez made another important connection.
“I just felt so much more comfortable with myself and empowered and at ease, and that’s why I love going,” she said. “Regardless of whether you meet someone or not, you will meet yourself and become better friends with yourself.”
The Not-Creepy Gathering for People Who Are Single and Want to Fall in Love
What: This gathering uses stand-up comedy, discussion questions and more to connect singles of all ages, genders and orientations.
When: 7-9:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Woodard Lane Cohousing, 1620 Woodard Ave. NW, Olympia
Tickets: $5-$20 donation suggested. Pre-registration is advised.
More information: thenotcreepygathering.com
Also: Please bring a notebook.