Two young men wearing stylish topsider shoes and black leather jackets lean against an elevated, horseshoe-shaped bar at Pete and Marty’s, a downtown Toronto night-club, and exchange glances with several heavily made-up young women at a nearby table. On the dance floor below, the gyrating bodies of young swingers are silhouetted against a video screen playing a sexually suggestive Madonna video, as one of the singer’s popular songs thunders through the club’s sound system. Later, the two men send a round of a drink called “Orgasm”—a concoction of Peppermint Schnapps and Baileys Irish Cream—to the table of girls, who acknowledge the gesture with appreciative giggles. The animated scene testifies to the powerful attraction that some bars and nightclubs—so-called meet markets—hold for Canadians who want to make contact with members of the opposite sex. Meetings of that kind are an increasingly popular phenomenon as illustrated by the Maclean ’s/Decima Poll.
In it, a wide margin of respondents—38 per cent—chose bars and nightclubs as the best place to meet members of the opposite
sex, followed by 10 per cent who picked schools. Some also named sporting events and public transit as their top choices for places to meet a potential date, but those locations ranked near the bottom of the survey along with dating services, private parties and shopping malls. For their part, women were twice as likely as men to say that school or work is the best place to meet a companion. And the poll indicates that the higher a person’s education level, the more likely they are to seek a mate at work or school—as opposed to bars or nightclubs.
Overall, 60 per cent of poll respondents who said that they were not involved in a relationship claimed that they made no effort to meet members of the opposite sex. “The assumption in the 1970s was that the more sexual experience you had, the more you would grow as a person,” said Melissa Clark-Jones, head of the sociology department at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Que. Now, she added, “people are recuperating and waiting, rather than assuming that happiness will result from some kind of sexual pursuit.” Still, for the revellers at Pete and Marty's, and those at hundreds of other bars across Canada, the pursuit of happiness—and companions—seemed as obsessive as ever.
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