Pauleanna Reid never expected to find love on Clubhouse

Now is the perfect time for it-the pandemic has only intensified virtual dating, especially among millennials and Gen Z

But after speaking on a branding-focused Clubhouse panel, “Social Media Blueprint,” last . She quickly moved their conversation to texting and then to phone calls and Zooms. Two weeks later, Reid, a 33-year-old celebrity ghostwriter, flew from Toronto to Washington, D.C., where she was greeted with a suite at the Ritz. She spent the next month with her now partner, and their relationship is now stronger than ever.

“Everyone has been very shocked but also too very positive,” Reid noted, “and I would just say inspired by the idea that you can find love in an unlikely place.”

Lindsey Metselaar, the 30-year-old host of the dating podcast We Met At Acme, is not surprised by Clubhouse’s new use, noting even payment apps like Venmo can become places where couples meet

Founded in 2020, Clubhouse is an invite-only, audio-based app that gained early popularity with the Silicon Valley crowd. Its reputation is something akin to a virtual watering hole for men in tech, finance, and venture capital who love to hear themselves talk. At least that was my impression when I joined the platform in and stumbled into a few rooms on topics like entrepreneurship, blockchain, and cryptocurrency. Notably, Clubhouse only provides one small photo per profile-the rest of the app is guided purely on audio.

“I know so many people who’ve gone on Clubhouse dates,” says Charlotte Broukhim, an active Clubhouse participant who hosts panels multiple times per week. Broukhim has used the app to match her newfound Clubhouse contacts with her IRL friends and has observed situations like Reid’s, where individuals meet in non-dating-related discussion rooms, enjoy chatting, and later connect through a different platform. (Clubhouse does not yet have a direct-messaging feature.)

“The connections have the chance to be a little bit deeper because you’re getting to know each other through conversation,” Broukhim says. If Instagram is image forward and Twitter is dependent on clever quips, Clubhouse is maybe closer to real life, where people, you know, get to know each other by talking. This new wave of audio-only romance also exists in contrast to dating apps, where a series of photos and statistics (height, job, age) come before any sort of conversation-plus, there’s no endless swiping.

Indeed, while not its intended purpose, Clubhouse may soon rival traditional dating apps. “I think anything can be a dating app if you try hard enough,” she said.

Aside from chance encounters in standard discussion rooms, there are more explicit ways of using the app to date. Twenty-seven-year-old influencer Serena Kerrigan runs the Clubhouse room Let’s Fucking Date, based on her Instagram show of the same name. There, listeners raise their hands (a feature on the app) to go onstage (i.e., take their turn speaking). Kerrigan then asks icebreaker questions, after which interested parties can message the speakers they like.

Kerrigan also praised the nonvisual component of the app. “What I love about it is you don’t have to put makeup on, you don’t have to do your hair. You can wear sweatpants, you can literally be hungover, you can be so casual, and I think that there’s something very disarming about that,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about communication and conversation, so nothing else really should matter.”

A major component of the app’s romantic ecosystem is the suggestively titled Shoot Your Shot rooms, in which Clubhouse users get onstage and pitch themselves as dateable, either to a specific person or to the group collectively. Groups are oriented toward a variety of different identities, including Shoot Your Shot LGBTQIA, Jewish, Middle Eastern, and Desi. From there a brief, though public, conversation occurs, and then the pair can decide whether to connect privately. Think The Bachelor meets speed dating meets a conference call.

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