In a world where men and women often spend more time with their BlackBerrys and iPhones than they do with other each other, the longing for shared experiences and face-to-face interaction has become palpable. According to Mary Vallone, President of Highlife Adventures (www.highlifeadventures.com), an upscale social club for singles in Chicago and Indianapolis, this is especially true when it comes to dating. "Men and women are stepping out from the anonymity of the online dating world and reclaiming their lives," Vallone says. "Today's singles not only want to meet people who share their interests, but they also want to share real-life experiences with like-minded potential mates.
" For many singles, this trend toward group activities based on common interests breaks new ground in the dating arena. "In a sense, we're going back to the future," says Vallone. "It's as though the ice cream social of the early 20th century has been kicked up several notches." Indeed, Highlife Adventures' 3,000 Chicagoland members would be hard-pressed to find an ice cream social among the over 65 activities planned each month.
Those who crave adventure can go parasailing, caving, or experience being a fighter pilot for a day. Music aficionados can revel in a hot night of cool jazz or attend a rock star fantasy camp, while those with cultural interests can attend a performance of the Chicago Symphony or a Frank Lloyd Wright tour. Members who enjoy the club scene can participate in a trolley pub-crawl, a moonlight party cruise, or events like "Martinis and Manicures" or "Pots 'n' Shots Pottery Class." Vallone explains that Highlife Adventures' approach serves to bring people together in a pressure-free setting. "When you attend an event, you're meeting people you already have something in common with and who are all there to meet you," she says. "And, when you're having fun, you let your guard down and are more likely to meet the right person.
" This new dating trend is in stark contrast to the bar scene of the 1980s, the one-on-one matching services of the 1990s, and the speed dating phenomena that peaked a few years ago. "Not all singles like to hang out in bars, many don't care for the pressure of sequential one-on-one dates, and most people find that speed dating is too superficial," says Vallone. And, while online dating may appeal to the college crowd, many of the 25- to 45-year-olds in Highlife Adventures' membership have "been there, done that.
" According to Vallone, "Meeting people online can be fun, but also fraught with pitfalls. Singles fare better when they put down the mouse, get out of the house, and meet people face-to-face." Highlife Adventures helps ensure their members' experiences are positive by prescreening potential members in person and having a company representative at each event. Ultimately, Vallone concludes, "We don't match anyone.
Instead, we provide unique, fun events where groups of singles can meet one another and find what they seek – whether it's a friend, a date, or a soulmate.".
Highlife Adventures is a social club for Chicago Singles, with a second branch in Indianapolis.