BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
In our world of technology, it’s seemingly harder and harder to make friends in an organic way without the use of an app or needing a wifi connection. Most likely, if a stranger walked up to you and wanted to grab dinner, your first thought may be “this person is hitting on me,” quickly followed by “this person may be a serial killer.” Fair enough, I would think the same way. But a company in Perth, Australia is trying to kill the negative stigma around meeting strangers by creating a series of dinner parties across the city with one rule: everyone at the party is strangers.
The dinners, reasonably named Stranger Danger Dinners, want to connect people from around the city that probably would never talk. They hope to make the idea of meeting strangers a little more natural, while at the same time giving an opportunity for people to make friends and enjoy a group meal. Dinners cost $65, which is the price of the work the organizers do behind-the-scenes to make the dinner happen, and the actual meal itself.
Every interested stranger befriends the group on Facebook and sends the organizers a message; sending in your details: availability, food concerns, and a good joke, will heighten your chance to get an invitation to a dinner. The organizers hand-select the guests by doing some background research on everyone, hoping to pair people who wouldn’t regularly connect.
To ensure the dinners don’t have a creepy vibe to them, they are all hosted at local up-and-coming restaurants on their quiet nights. So, even if you don’t find your next BFF, you may have just found your new favourite restaurant.
“We wanted to create a safe space where people can engage in meaningful conversation, and make new connections, knowing that they’re with a curated group of good people who are all in the same (terrifying) boat full of strangers,” the anonymous organizers said.
The strangers in each group have no known shared interests or hobbies, and the organizers ensure people are different in terms of age and background. The point is to open your mind to meeting new people, those of whom you wouldn’t necessarily find at your favourite hangout spot. The dinners don’t have hosts, but instead offer conversation cards if the group is finding themselves off to a slow start.
“We believe that IRL ‘friending’ is a muscle that needs exercise,” said the organizers. “We’ve had awesome feedback from attendees that our dinners have made them more open to meeting strangers.”
The organizers currently only host dinners in Perth, but their site does sell conversation cards and instructions available for anyone looking to host their own stranger danger event.