Men and women are rotated to meet each other over a series of short “dates”, usually lasting from 3 to 8 minutes depending on the organization running the event. At the end of each interval, the organizer rings a bell, clinks a glass, or blows a whistle to signal the participants to move on to the next date. At the end of the event participants submit to the organizers a list of who they would like to provide their contact information to. If there is a match, contact information is forwarded to both parties.
Contact information cannot be traded during the initial meeting, in order to reduce pressure to accept or reject a suitor to his or her face. These events typically require advance registration, often an online prepayment by credit card. However, they may accept a few walk-ins when needed to balance the gender ratio. Some services make use of wait lists when signing up to strive for exactly the same number of men and women, while others have a more “party” atmosphere and only aim for an approximately matching number.
There are many speed dating events now in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. Many of these simply specify an age range for ladies and gentlemen; sometimes a slightly older range is specified for men. On the other hand, many organizers offer niche events such as nights for graduates only, gays and lesbians, older men with younger women and vice versa, book lovers, ethnic events, and religious affiliation such as Christian speed dating.