Pheromone parties are the latest trend to hit the international dating scene. These parties allow young men and women to literally sniff out prospective partners. Instead of meeting each other face-to-face, people at these parties just go around sniffing bags of discarded clothing worn by a potential mate. When the smell seems right, it’s time to meet.
Speed dating sounds more sensible to me than this…
To attend a pheromone party, you’ll have to first agree to wear the same cotton T-shirt three nights in a row, without using any deodorant or perfume. You then have to bring your odor-infused clothing to the party in a numbered transparent plastic bag.
And, how do they enforce the agreement? Yes, deodorant and perfume are easy enough to notice if applied, but how will you know the T-shirt has been worn three times, instead of, say, only once?
Then, you randomly pick up bags belonging to the opposite sex – pink labels for women and blue for men – until you find one that you really seem to like. You click a picture of yourself holding the bag – all the images are projected on the wall and then you get to meet the person of your, well, smelly dreams!
Some men are known to cheat –
Oh, and no women are known to?
they randomly pick up bags and pose with them just to improve their chances of meeting someone.
Again, no women have done so? How do they know?
But according to British organizer Judy Nadel, the concept is a huge ice-breaker because you’re smelling a stranger’s T-shirt. It doesn’t give anyone much room to be cool or pretentious.
Yeah, but cheating is easy; e.g. lay off garlic, hot sauce, fish and pickles for a few days before, and you’ll smell differently (and much better) than if you regularly eat such things; conversely, eat more bananas, and you’ll smell sweeter… (Of course, maybe it’s better to smell a bit musky if you’re a man, and sweeter if you’re a woman.) But here’s the thing: if you normally wear deodorant, why would you want a test without such a baseline, when those are the normal conditions for you? A test requiring you to abstain from deodorant skews the results from what they would have otherwise been, and will be usually… So how useful is such?
The idea of pheromone parties was first introduced in the US, but is now spreading to other major cities around the world. The concept of finding a partner based solely on smell was inspired by an experiment conducted in 1995 by Swiss scientist Claus Wedekind. The basic theory behind the concept is that chemicals are fundamental to the sexual behavior of animals. Someone apparently thought this applies to humans as well.
Well, yes; no doubt it plays a role. But (a) our sense of smell is nowhere near as developed as that of many other animals, and (b) the rest of what inspires attraction between humans is definitely a lot more complicated than that of other animals, and such things are factored into human attraction…
Pheromone parties are the brainchild of American artist Judith Prays, who established a connection between human pheromones (chemicals secreted by the body) and partner selection in 2010. The USP of these parties is that you are undeniably attracted to the person whose T-shirt you choose. “With online dating we provide you with everything but the spark,” said Australian organizer Lou Compagnone. “But this is almost the complete opposite because it starts with chemistry.”
And what of looks, charisma, etc.? As if such factors are minimal…
According to scientists though, RSVP’ing to a pheromone party might get you sex, but definitely not true love. “It is a sensible or plausible way to identify a partner if the only important criteria is how this partner smells when your eyes are closed, and the sole purpose is sexual,” said Australian professor Phillipp Kirsch of the University of Queensland.
He even went on to warn that the role played by pheromones in partner selection might actually be insignificant. Other senses like sound tend to overpower our sense of smell, so the tempting whiff might only end up to be a temporary attraction. “If the goal is to find a partner for a broader range of activities, it would seem important to consider the more dominant senses that we use in making choices, such as sight and hearing,” he said.
“I think that any role that pheromones play would be significantly minor,” he added. “Animals orient in the environment by sensing a wide range of stimuli – light, sound, smell, touch and taste.”
Hear, hear! Smart guy.
Well, we don’t know if the theory works or not, but pheromone parties are a huge hit. In London, for instance, over 140 people attended each of the two events conducted so far. The first one was in March – six couples got together then. There are plenty of names on the waiting list as well, for future parties. You need to book your ticket really early, and pay an entrance fee of up to $25. The parties include added attractions at times, like aromatherapy to stimulate romantic feelings.
Although they’re popular, the parties have brought on mixed reactions from guests. 48-year-old Bob, who attended one of the London pheromone parties, said: “Funnily enough I was scared that someone would smell my shirt and throw it down,” he said. Fortunately, nothing of the sort happened.
23-year-old law trainee Steven Lucas thought all the shirts smelled the same: “It’s like sweat and a tiny bit of perfume, or just, like clean.” His friend, on the other hand, found one that he thought was ‘worn for a few days’.
33-year-old Marta Montserrat, who attended the event with her sister, couldn’t seem to spot her ‘type’ among the crowd. “It doesn’t matter what I smell, if I don’t like what I see,” she admitted.
Exactly. We humans are not dogs; at least, most of us aren’t… :)