There are 6m postcodes in London, what's happening in yours?
Published November 24th 2013
Source: Meetings Without Mask
Dating is fraught with danger from being rejected to stalked, yet you have to wear a metaphorical mask to defend yourself from these hazards. Jan Day shows you how avoid the pitfalls with Naked Dating, which is not what you think it is, salacious schoolboy smut fans. You're naked with your clothes on, minus the mask.
Jan Day started Meetings Without Masks in 2009 after realising people were coming to her transformational workshops, yet wanted to meet people. Transformational work is about growth in consciousness and what she calls "becoming the most you can be, being the best you can be." Realising there was a gap in the market, she created more gender balanced events for singles who tired of things like speed-dating, which is very superficial as you only have 60 seconds to make an impression. Rather, this is looking beyond the mask and getting connected to their feeling.
That's the basic theory, but what was it like in practice? It all starts with a fun little game where you have to count with a partner, only replacing a number with a sound. Here, "Two", was replaces with "Quack", which made me lose count. Everyone laughed as it got sillier as this first exercise went on. However, there were more exercises that could be considered new age.
One exercise was that we had a "magic sack" and we had to pull what we could about ourselves and what it meant to me. I love photography and exploring London and what I learned from these two, so I talked about how I perfect my craft. The feedback was complimentary and quite sweet, with one girl saying: "I enjoyed talking to you and seeing you relax and become less shy." Another complimented me on my smile.
It was quite telling about some of the people who came to these workshops. Naturally, being held in a Yoga centre in Belgravia, it felt like I was in an episode of The Modern Parents. A cartoon strip about two new age parents and their long suffering kids, in which the parents bring their kids, Tarquin and Guinevere (who's a boy, by the way) in the most politically correct and green way as possible. I was hearing buzzwords like "sustainability" and even someone being involved in a community apple press. Having felt that I was in a Modern Parents strip, it was because I could imagine the aforementioned parents, Malcolm & Cressida, attending one of these workshops and really gushing with enthusiasm about them.
Some of the conversation was interesting though, because everyone wanted different things from a relationship. I never gave what I wanted any thought, as I'm already in a relationship with my parents, sister, nephew and my cute little kitty cat, Lily.
When asked what we looked for in a relationship, which having never thought of before, I took the opportunity to talk about my relationship with Lily. One girl said: "I really enjoyed hearing about your cat and what she means to you. It sounds like you have a lovely relationship." Lily is my little girl, after all. When Jan asked us what we admired in the opposite sex, which was something I never even thought of. Where do you begin? The only answer I could come up with was that after all half our species has put up with for twenty thousand years, they can get back up again. In short, their resilience, which is something I have in common.
Indeed, an activity on tenderness was where I dried up, talking about a banal subject of having dental surgery with a woman with a bruise on her face. Perhaps it was boredom or running out of things to say, but you can only talk about dental surgery for so long (especially with someone you don't know).
Some searching questions I have never asked myself were ones I never encountered before, but some of it was quite corny. An exercise in trust was where you had a partner and you had to approach them, but you had to put your hands up to say "no" if they came too close. A lot of new age talk is cringe worthy when you hear people talk about their chakras or whether they were reincarnated from the King of the Gypsy Dolphins, especially when people talk about how "Spiritual" they are. It smacks of pretentiousness. Mind you, one partner told me I respected her boundaries.
It's not for everyone, believe me, but knowing people who've had bad relationships and break-ups, I think this is could be of benefit for them. You get to size up your prospective partners and learn what's behind the mask that hides what you truly feel, but also what lies behind their mask too. I've seen people devastated when the mask slipped and the true person was revealed.
Even the editor of Kindred Spirit magazine, Tania Ahsan, said: "I had a tremendously enjoyable day and learnt about what I want out of relationships. The day was challenging at times but always was interesting, open-hearted and compelling." I'll agree with challenging, as it pushed me out of my comfort zone. The last time this happened was when I had an all day job interview, which this reminded me of for this very reason, as I had to look into myself and ask what I want. Not sure yet, so what about you?
If you like being stripped bare while keeping your clothes on, then book online at www.meetingswithoutmasks.com
Phone: (0208) 123-9831
Mobile: (07883) 818637