My night on the Wheel of Date

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Find out what happened when Natasha Wynarczyk went speed dating with a difference...

    It’s a cold and windy thursday night, and I’m 435ft in the air belting out ‘You’re the One that I Want’ from Grease with a guy called Dan I met two minutes ago. Our backing music isn’t a karaoke machine or a tinny record in a bar – it’s a live ukulele band.

    Not your average way to spend a schoolnight, but when I was invited to join 500 London singletons on the EDF Energy London Eye for the first ever ‘Wheel of Date’ I couldn’t refuse. New dating website DoingSomething and Time Out magazine had combatted what could be originally seen as a bit of a logistical nightmare by transforming each of the Eye’s 32 pods into a different unique experience. From a petting zoo to cabaret via a life drawing class, there was something for everybody. There was even a Vegas-style wedding chapel for those who found love at first sight!

    I arrived at the Old Vic Tunnels to register (a brilliant venue which is sadly closing soon) and was immediately given a yellow rosette. ‘You’re getting allocated to each pod at random’ the girl at the door said. Nursing a double gin and tonic (it calms the nerves, don’t you know) I looked around the room to find somebody to talk to. I chatted to a couple of guys who were by themselves, but it all seemed a little stilted and awkward. We all needed an ice breaker.

    Thankfully it was soon time to hit the wheel. There’s no better way to create brilliant conversation than by getting forced out of your comfort zone and trying something new. It turned out my experience would be KaraUke – karaoke with a live ukulele band. The members of the band rushed inside the pod, impressing everybody with their two-minute set up skills, and immediately started playing some tunes.

    At first everybody seemed very shy, so we all were encouraged to write our names down. They called out one girl and one guy at random and we went up to sing. I was second and had to follow a great spirited version of Cee-lo Green’s ‘Forget You’ so was feeling very nervous. However, Dan and myself picked our tune from Grease (we knew it would get the crowd going) and both really got into it.

    Although everybody I spoke to in my capsule seemed more friend than relationship material, it was a lot better and way more fun than my other attempt at speed-dating three years ago, where the woman to man ratio was so badly skewed every woman had to sit alone for three minutes on three seperate occasions wondering what on earth they were doing. Looking down at the lights of London twinkling beneath us provided a romantic setting and I’m confident a few people will have hit it off – a lot of people were looking very close at the afterparty back in the Old Vic Tunnels!

    Once we disembarked the Eye I chatted to Quincy, one of the members of the ukulele troop. ‘That was brilliant. It’s not every day you get to play a gig at 400ft above London’ he said. And it’s not every day you get to speed date high above the capital either.

    Reading now