Sally Hall: Needing a nose for romance on the scent of new dating craze

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Singletons keen to sniff out a new love match may be curious to hear about a dating craze that’s just come over from LA – the pheromone party.

When the UK’s first pheromone party was held in London a couple of weeks ago, guests eschewed the pouty profile pics and pseudo self-deprecatory personal statements that now represent the standard accoutrements of a single person looking for love – in favour of a sweaty T-shirt.

It’s not the obvious choice for a first date, perhaps. But pheromone parties lock into the idea that we all secrete a unique scent which triggers sexual attraction in potential mates with whom we are genetically well-matched.

So...guests wear a plain T-shirt in bed for three nights and bring that to the pheromone party in a numbered bag. The bags are labelled pink for women and blue for men. Guests then stick their nose into the bags to inhale each wearer’s USP (Unique Stinky Pong).

If you find an individual’s smell attractive, you have your photo taken holding the numbered bag. The T-shirt’s owner then comes to find you – and the perfect love story begins.

Girl sniffs boy. Girl meets boy. Girl decides maybe there’s something wrong with her olfactory system.

Blogging about her experience of attending a pheromone party, writer Johanna Derry noted the wide variety of smells on offer, from aftershave-overload (surely missing the point) to untramelled BO.

In her case, the plain white T went unselected. Which makes me wonder – is it worse to be rejected on the basis of your pheremonal genetic incompatibility than on your looks?

At least the pheromone party is a little less brutal and slightly more opaque than its gladiatorial cousin, speed dating.

I remember when speed dating first became a ‘thing’ about 15 years ago. As a cub reporter, I was given the task of checking out the new dating craze.

Luckily I got to choose a male to accompany me – so I selected the most fanciable man on the paper. A bloke whose nickname (‘Spaghetti Arms’) implied he could be easily persuaded into a romantic liaison.

Somehow, I imagined that the intimacy of meeting 30 romantically unentangled members of the opposite sex in one evening might entice Spaghetti Arms to notice me.

Looking back, it’s hard to imagine how I could have drawn this conclusion. But I set out in good spirits, with plans for us to catch last orders at the end of the evening to compare notes. Oh, how we would laugh about the weirdos we’d talked to – then fall into each others’ arms...

This daydream kept me going as I gritted my teeth through the painful process. Two minutes with each man. Not enough to time to tell any of my embarrassing anecdotes. I didn’t stand a chance.

Especially given that the girl sitting to my left was a blonde bombshell with an hourglass figure and a voice husky enough to lure a sailor onto the rocks. As the men were moving left-to-right, I had to wait for them to finish ticking the ‘would like to meet again’ box next to her name before they finally looked up to talk to me, with 30 seconds left to go.

This happened so many times I lost count. By the end of it, I was fuming. But that was nothing compared to what happened next. As Spaghetti Arms and I prepared to leave, he dropped a clanger. ‘I hope you don’t mind, but I asked that girl who was sitting next to you to join us for a drink.’

Maybe their pheromones were better matched. Who knows? Years later, I’m just glad I finally found a man whose laundry pile I find irresistible.

Sarah Champion MP

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