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Prowling the local single scene

Date: 2007-01-06

Occasionally, The Examiner releases our two stalwart singles, Joanie and Dan, on the world to see just whazzup in the hook-up trenches. Back from a recent safari in the dating wilds, our intrepid explorers report on Maryland Upscale Singles ...

JOAN: Many of my matchmaking clients hire me to find them suitable matches because they quake in their boots and break out in a cold sweat when they consider going to a singles event. Enter Jamie Braman, founder of Maryland's Upscale Singles. She explains, "Maryland's Upscale Singles is a social club. There's no emphasis on dating and matching. It's a place to make friends." Dan and I recently attended one of Jamie's events, a dressy dance and buffet at Libertore's in Timonium, where the music was hot and the drinks were cold. Take it, Dan ...

DAN: Blood was most definitely in the water at this event, if the folks I spoke to at the event any indication. One gentleman extolled a kind of

"social Darwinism" to the proceedings, explaining how he would ferret out the "players" in hopes that these guys would lead him to the most promising females. One gentlewoman told me she was a tad disappointed that the "upscale" singles she encountered included a "salesman at Sears" and not the bankers-lawyers-AlphaMales she was hoping to find. Then again, like beauty, what is upscale is in the eye of the beholder. Back to you, Joanie ...

JOAN: The effervescent, petite Jamie told me her social club, for single professionals over 30, has more than 4,000 on her e-mail list and 500

members. She attributes the success of Maryland's Upscale Singles, now in business three and-a half years, to the variety of activities she offers ‹ from cooking classes, chocolate and wine tastings, sporting events and international travel. Newcomers can attend two events to test the waters, and if they want to swim, they pay $125 a year, plus the cost of events. One man I interviewed, a newly divorced consultant, said he'd like to attend another event before joining. "I have a lot of friends who are constantly fixing me up, and I'm enjoying going out with a lot of people. But eventually I'll want to get back in a relationship again."

DAN: Musing on these singles clubs, I'm reminded of the wailing baby who is quieted with a pacifier. It's not really what he's after, but it keeps him occupied, though one must wonder if, for the baby, it's ultimately dissatisfying. I was a member of a similar group in Denver where you signed up for events, everything from the mundane movie night to hot air ballooning o'er the Rockies, and where everyone there would be single ... so if you didn't find what you REALLY came for (a relationship), you at least got to see "Schindler's List" or an elk at 5,000 feet.

JOAN: Trust me, I'd rather have a coffee with an elk at 5,000 feet than some of the men I've met on the Internet, but that's another story.

DAN: Sounds like a topic for our next column ‹ Joanie's dating experiences, eh? Just what the heck ARE women looking for? Tall, dark and handsome? Smart, sophisticated, rich? The ability to remember to put down the toilet seat? Beats the heck outta me, so do tell Joanie, do tell.

Dan Collins is a terminally single 40-something writer and local PR maven. Joan Allen is a noted matchmaker extraordinaire, and author of "Celebrating Single and Getting Love Right: From Stalemate to Soulmate."

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