Artist and teacher Jenna Bean Veatch was working toward her MFA, performing an audience-interactive dance about human connection, when she had an epiphany.
Instead of dancing about human connection, she could actually create it — by hosting connection-building events. Thus the first Not-Creepy Gathering for People Who Are Single and Want to Fall in Love event was born.
"Too often, dating is creepy. A lot of the different avenues laid out for us are surface-focused. Bars and Tinder encourage us to make snap decisions based on physical appearance, and it’s dehumanizing because it’s not about who we are as people," says Veatch.
"Being not-creepy, especially in the context of the news today, means emphasizing the importance of consent and listening, and respecting the whole person," she adds.
Single parents dating
In the four years since launching her gatherings, Veatch has hosted almost 40 events. When a friend joked that she could expand to toddler playgroups called "Not-Creepy Crawlies," it sparked a new idea. Being a single parent in the dating scene is extra tricky.
Veatch thought about all the single parents who face additional obstacles to meeting new people, and even struggle to attend social events because of the expense and challenge of finding child care.
Think structured workshop
Veatch says Not-Creepy Gatherings are closer to workshops than cocktail parties. The structured activities ensure that everyone talks to a lot of different people, but also build in time for deeper conversations among small groups.
"Connection requires showing our real selves. We must go beyond small talk and be a little bit vulnerable. That’s scary, but we build up to it," she says.
Parents automatically share a topic of interest and a launching point to get beyond surface level conversations — a good start toward potential connection.
Single parent event Nov. 9
The first Not-Creepy Gathering for Parents Who Are Single and Want to Fall in Love will be held Friday, Nov. 9, at Fremont Abbey in Seattle. Tickets are $5–$20 on an honor-system sliding scale, and free onsite child care is provided. The event has space for up to 20 kids of any age, even infants.
There is room for 100 adults — most of whom are likely to be parents, but it's not required. Inclusiveness and accessibility are critical ingredients for Veatch. She encourages all genders and sexual orientations to attend (attendees mark their name tags with symbols for the type of person they are seeking).
Veatch adds, "When people hear 'single parent' they automatically think of single moms. Dads are single parents, too!" Typical attendance at her gatherings is 60 percent female and 40 percent male, she says.
With such a variety of attendees, Not-Creepy Gatherings encourage people to be open to surprises and connections other than the one they started out looking for, Veatch says.
"Lots of people show up looking for a partner, and the event provides that possibility. But it’s also much broader. People have met dear friends, future roommates, business partners and travel buddies at Not-Creepy Gatherings," says Veatch.
And yes, people do find romantic connections. The first Not-Creepy baby was born a few months ago.
If you go...
When: The Not-Creepy Gathering for Parents Who Are Single and Want to Fall in Love is Friday, Nov. 9, 6–8 p.m.
Cost: $5, $12.50 or $20: self-select your preferred price. Register online. When registering, enter your interest in free child care with ages of your kid(s).
More Not Creepy events: Additional Not-Creepy events are coming in up in Seattle (and Portland). Some are labeled "all welcome" and others specify queer or a general age-rage.