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27 Sep, Sunday
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Sci-Fi Speed Dating Brings the Business of Romance to Salt Lake FanX

For every Lois looking for her Clark, or for every Ron looking for his Hermione, that special someone could be right around the corner—at a comic convention.

Sci-Fi Speed Dating, a Farmington, New York-based company that organizes speed dating events at comic and sci-fi conventions around the country, runs with the tagline “There’s someone for everyone,” and seeks to practice what it preaches.

For Ryan Glitch, president of the company—who himself found true love while sci-fi speed dating—Sci-Fi Speed Dating started out as taking something good and trying to make it even better.

“The convention was good, but the event was poorly ran, so it was no fun. I suggested the speed dating to another convention,” he said. “They came back to me and asked, ‘Well, how does speed dating work? What do you need to run it?’ I told them, and we went back and forth in email and finally they said, ‘Here, run it for us’ and it was this little accident that could.”

Adult participants of all genders and orientations—and convention identities—line up for sessions that run in hour and a half-long segments through the duration of the convention in hopes of finding people worth contacting ‘in the real world’ through three-minute meetings. Glitch stands at the head of the room, keeping a close eye on the proceedings and encouraging everyone with rapid-fire dating witticisms.

Sessions running at Salt Lake Comic Con for the LGBTQ community were free, while all other sessions were free for women and $20 for men. Glitch said he feels the themed speed dating is a welcome and sometimes necessary jolt of originality and novelty to the sometimes-predictable comic convention atmosphere.

“You know, there’s so much already at the Con that’s like, oh, look this actor is giving a panel where he gets asked the same fifteen questions he was asked last year and tells the same jokes, and look! It’s the vendor that has the same stuff, and another vendor that has the same stuff,” said Glitch. “And I’m not trying to belittle that stuff, but this is something not a lot of people have tried. …If you’re single, there’s always new people, there’s always a slightly new dynamic to it. Plus, it actually gives you a chance to maybe meet and make real friends aside from line buddies. And I know there’s real line friends, but we’ve had marriages come out of this.”

In addition to the novelty Sci-Fi Speed Dating brings, Glitch says he thinks the concept works on a romantic level for some participants because of the nature of comic conventions in general.

“We bring [speed dating] to cons because one, people want things to do—it’s good programming, it’s fun programming—you have a whole bunch of like-minded people in the same place and you can build from that,” he said. “It’s stupidly fun.”

Glitch initially began running Sci-Fi Speed dating for fun, but as the event gained traction, he said, he knew he had to make a change.

“We first started doing it just for free just to go to cons and to do the speed dating thing, just to run it. And then all of us involved were taking too much time off work and started to lose money, so we were like, ‘We either have to have it make money or we have to quit,” Glitch said. “I didn’t want to quit—I like going to cons—so we turned it into an actual, legitimate business.”

The seven-person operation now travels around the country, bringing a fun spin on the dating game to comic and sci-fi conventions around the country.

Glitch said making a business out of his whim of an event idea was the best job he ever lucked into.

“I get paid to travel the US, and I get to meet great people. I’ve met some of the best friends a guy could ask for while doing this. People meet and fall in love, and I feel like I’m doing some halfway decent work. I work for myself, so it’s kind of good all the way around. Everybody wins,” he said.