Courtesy of Jenna Bean Veatch
A few years ago we interviewed Jenna Bean Veatch about her dating event “The Not-Creepy Gathering for People Who Want to Fall in Love.” (You can read the whole article right here). But to give a quick refresher: Veatch’s event combines small group activities with some stand-up comedy to create a one-of-a-kind mixer designed to create love connections.
Considering how everything moved online this past year and one of the points of this recurring event was to make genuine in-person connections, Jenna had to adapt. We “sat down” with her to get an update on how it’s going and hear how her first in-person gathering in more than a year went.
How did you come up with the idea for this?
Six years ago I was in grad school getting my MFA in interdisciplinary arts, and I was working on making a dance theater show that was about the desire for human connection. One day, I was walking around the lake and I suddenly went, “Oh, my God, I think I have an idea”. And this, this was the idea. The day after, I got on the phone and booked a tiny little venue for a few weeks later, and 70 people showed up to that first event. It seemed so clear that I had stumbled upon something that people wanted and that was filling a need that was not being met in other ways.
Can you talk about moving the event online and how that went?
I resisted shifting it online in the first few months because in many ways, it was created as an alternative and even antidote to online dating. But I eventually gave it a try and was shocked and so delighted to discover that genuine, meaningful connections via Zoom are totally possible. In some ways, it almost works better as a virtual event. It can be intimidating and you have to be vulnerable to show up to something like this. Many people are more at ease in their own homes and so it makes it easier to show up in the first place.
Do you have any advice for those who are a bit apprehensive about going back out to these sorts of social events?
If people feel nervous about it, know that this is normal and to be expected. I think people can give themselves some grace. At these in-person events I've got coming up, we get to do that all together. I get to name that right at the top — that we all might feel anxious or some version of awkward, nervous, excited and that's okay. We get to know that we're not the only ones feeling that way. We don't need to pretend that we are completely at ease. Even without a pandemic, trying to meet people is inherently vulnerable. Opening yourself up to connection means we can end up getting hurt, and that can be scary. But I believe it's worth it.
Jenna is hosting the first in-person gathering in 16 months tomorrow at Fremont Abbey. Tickets to the event are sold out, but there is an online gathering on Sunday and another in-person one next weekend, July 17. Check their website to stay up to date and find tickets.