Shumba Valley LodgeLast weekend I attended the first Fast Break event with Fastdate. This is a weekend away for singles. By the way I detest the word “singles” (it stinks of desperation and I prefer “unmarried”). The idea is simple: a group single people (about 16 men/women) go away for a weekend trip filled with activities. My role was to give a talk on “Dating in the 21st Century” on the Saturday. This talk will shortly be available as an ebook I’m working on called Social or Single.

Table and CupboardI decided not to go through on the Friday evening because I was putting the finishing touches on the presentation/talk and instead arrived on the Saturday late morning. Shumba Valley Lodge, where the group was spending the weekend, is a beautiful place. And I highly recommend it. It’s located down the road from the Cradle of Humankind, a very famous World Heritage site in South Africa. This was where things first went wrong as I had prepared my talk for 12 and instead we rushed off to the restaurant The Cradle, that was supposedly closing at 1pm. After the lunch it was suggested we should all rest for a while and my talk would take place at 5pm.

BedsWell it turns out there was some heavy drinking the Friday evening. This type of behaviour is expected but should not be encouraged. People attended this event for a reason: meeting people from the opposite sex and see if there is chemistry. When the organisers are drinking more than the guests, it’s alarming. One of my beliefs is that alcohol abuse comes from deep embarrassment, anger with the world and frustration with your circumstances. How do I know this? My own dad has been an alcoholic most of his life and he is a very bitter and angry man. So this drinking binge may seem acceptable under the circumstances when in fact it does not help anyone overcome fears or social anxiety – which could be seen as the hidden purpose of these singles weekends.

BathroomWhen 5pm arrived half the people where missing or had left including the organisers. They seemed the least interested in what I had to say to their guests who had paid good money to attend this event. And so I was on the verge of leaving when one of the guys persuaded me to stay and give me talk informally. I had my laptop and was planning a presentation but maybe this impromptu speech was better. I shared my ideas with them on what I see as the major challenges in the 21st century in dating and how to improve their success.

Anyway I stayed the evening and we later on had dinner. There was an astronomer who entertained us with informative discussion on the stars, the planets and funny anecdotes. And so we did a bit of star gazing through his telescope. (note to self – buy one of those gadgets) In general the people were good company and I’m sure I’ve made some business contacts with the guys. The one woman I was interested in left earlier on the Saturday.

My overall my impression of these Fastdate events are bad. They are poorly organised. The organised are disinterested in really helping people connect. And they are more interested in their own dating and relations or lack thereof. So be cautioned and avoid them. Instead I recommend you explore SMARTdate, which has much more integrity in their events and services they render.