The objective of his parties was to bring what he’d learned on the dance floor—the power of eye contact—to the masses. “We’re not here to seduce anyone,” she says, reminding me of drunken strangers at the bar at closing time: I’ll go home with you, but we’re not having sex. Berkley is a new-agey type—she studies things called limbic resonance and generative trance, works as a life coach and, you know, throws eye-gazing parties—but she’s down to earth and articulate. With his smooth skin and wide eyes, he looks too young to say “amazingly hot” about anything besides maybe soup. Normally I love people, unless they’re very loud or insist on playing air guitar. When I surrender to a full-on stare with Arjuna, I don’t know what to focus on. Although I’m accustomed to locking eyes during a conversation, something about silent, sustained eye contact is just so … I laugh, and then compose myself, and then laugh again. Berkley stops the music and tells the men to stand and move one seat to the left.
The concept was soon hijacked by pick-up artists as a get-laid-quick scheme. She laments that in New York City, not to mention in the age of smartphones and Facebook, people have forgotten how to connect face to face. When I speak with someone, even someone I’ve just met, I don’t find eye contact challenging. It’s a way of holding each other without physically holding each other. Katalin Gothard, a scientist who studies the neural basis of emotion, eye contact is used for fighting, predation and attraction (hence pick-up artists throwing eye-gazing parties)—and maintaining it kicks the autonomic nervous system into gear. Eventually I worry that it’s more awkward to let Arjuna stare at my eyelids, so I open my eyes. Arjuna nods at me, cool as a cowboy tipping his hat. By my fourth eye-gaze, the urge to laugh has passed.
The promotional leaflet says that the evening’s intimacy games, role-playing and eye-gazing will allow you to "find out what people are really like".
But can you really fall in love without saying a word?
As the name suggests, it’s just like normal speed dating but with a twist: you can’t say a word to your partners.
Everyone here has paid £20 to find out if you really can forge a connection without words.
My companion for the evening, 23 year-old student Freddie, says what I suspect many of the gents will be thinking.
“I know I’m not a looker”, he admits over a quick pint before the event, “so my chat is all I’ve got.
The curtains are drawn against the glitter of Times Square and soft lighting filters through paper ceiling lanterns. Berkley asks each of us to fill in the blank: “Eye-gazing is ____.” We make our way around the circle. We line up our folding chairs in two facing rows—men in one, women in the other.
Eye-gazing parties—in essence, silent speed-dating events—were invented a few years ago by a salsa teacher named Michael Ellsberg, who later wrote The Power of Eye Contact: Your Secret for Success in Business, Love, and Life. I say, “exciting.” Others say “scary,” “intimate” and “personal.” A guy in a T-shirt, jeans and a name tag that reads “Christopher” says, “amazingly hot.” Christopher is clearly the youngest person in the room (most appear to be late-20s and up). ” “Attention.” “When a woman kisses my cheek or bites my neck,” says Christopher. Berkley lays out the eye-gazing rules: Don’t speak. I’m not sure why my muscles tense, why I suddenly long to escape this group. Berkley differentiated between the intense stare and the soft gaze (she encouraged the latter). Carol Goman, author of The Truth About Lies in the Workplace, distinguishes between a businesslike gaze (focusing on the area between eyes and mid-forehead) and a flirtatious gaze (focusing on the span from eyes to mouth).
In column 1, you wrote the number of the guy you're dating, in column 2 his name, and in column 3, what you ranked him on scale from "" (no joke, it said that on the scale).