Sure, Tinder makes hooking up as easy as swiping right, but you still have to, like, message people and – ew – get to know them on some level before you go on that first date. What if, like, you could arrange to meet that totally buff guy you got matched to without even having to put down your P-Spice Latte to type some annoying getting-to-know-you stuff into your phone?
That’s the idea behind Dapper, a new matchmaking app that arranges dates at Manhattan nightspots in three easy steps, and then treats you to a “free” drink at them.
The app’s Stuy Town-based founder, Josh Wittman – a financial analyst at Amex who previously launched a cab sharing app – insists its intentions are noble: by doing away with all pre-date messaging, women are spared the “creep factor” of guys sending cock shots or asking for racy photos, and men and women weed out people who are, well, just dicking around online and have no intention of meeting IRL. (Wittman says he’s encountered a lot of this in his own online dating experience.)
Male users must agree to a “Gentleman’s Pledge” that assures women they believe “chivalry is not dead.”
But here’s the thing — that chivalry comes at a price. Once two users agree to a date, the guy has to pay $19 before it can be confirmed, while the girl’s card is charged just $9. And the meeting place arranged by the app is based on the woman’s – not the man’s – preferred neighborhood. (Right now the app only arranges dates in Manhattan; locations include Vino Tapa near Murray Hill and Barramundi in the Lower East Side).
While it’s true that each person on the date gets a “free” drink at whatever bar is assigned, the man still ends up paying what might be considered a testicle tax. “I understand it could be a little controversial,” Wittman admits.
“Our position is that guys are gentlemen and that is pretty much the entire basis of our app,” he explains. “We’re trying to help girls not have the problems they have with online dating which is they have to go through all the creeps to find out which ones aren’t creeps — and go through all the chats. So, to some degree our company is about traditional morals.”
In that case, maybe Dapper should be named Draper. But doesn’t this Don Draper-esque pricing scheme imply that the lady isn’t as financially independent as the “gentleman”? Dapper’s marketing director Alexandra Partow says the company doesn’t think of it that way, and notes that staggered charges aren’t unheard of in NYC nightlife: “Generally with all kinds of things for attracting women, usually the price is lower [for women] at clubs and all those kinds of places,” she says.
(For the record: Dapper is open to gay users as well. Currently, men who go on same-sex dates are charged $19 each while women are charged $9 each, but Partow says that with the next update, the fee for same-sex dates will be changed to $14 each regardless of gender.)
But whatever: I decided to pretend I didn’t once take a “Deconstructing Gender” class at Sarah Lawrence and signed up for the app along with my girlfriend, just to give it a test run. Here’s how Dapper works.
1. I signed up.
To insure its male users are “only eligible, perfect gentlemen every time,” Dapper scrapes information about your education and place of work from Facebook. Though there isn’t an approval period, Dapper employees check your profile information against your LinkedIn page to make sure it matches, and will give you the boot if they think you’re catfishing.
2. I agreed to rules worthy of a prom chaperone.
3. I chose five “personality traits” from a list that included adjectives like dominant, caring, intelligent. Then I chose five interests.
Here’s where it becomes apparent that Dapper is built for what you might call “basics” (Dapper prefers “busy, professional singles”). The 16 interests you’re given the option of toggling consist solely of stuff everyone likes (movies, TV, music, conversation, etc.), religion (okay, but what religion? kind of important), and outdoorsy stuff like hiking and camping. Oh, and cruises. “Long walks on the beach” isn’t on there, but “the beach” actually is. “Ice cream” might as well be an interest. Sorry, nerds: you aren’t going to be matched with anyone based on your love of historical trivia.
4. I toggled my available nights. You can only arrange dates for the next five nights out.
5. After a while, this alert came to my phone and email.
4. I went to my “Potentials” folder — sure enough, there was my girlfriend, who had set her interests and personality traits to match mine. (Dapper hasn’t yet been publicized much and currently has just a few hundred users, Partow says.)
Though I wasn’t able to message her, I was able to see she shared my interest in music (!) and went to a reputable enough school (one that has an Astor Place Cube, in fact.)
5. I hearted her profile and put in a credit card number to arrange a date.
Here’s where things went a little haywire. When my “potential” attempted to do the same, the app mysteriously wouldn’t take her credit card information. Turns out, we were past the 6 p.m. cut-off point for same-day dates (dates are usually set for 8 p.m. on the weekdays, because no one leaves work before then, right?). The next day, there were more cockblocks. It turned out the date couldn’t be finalized because I hadn’t given the app access to enough of my Facebook information.
Needless to say, some “kinks” are being worked out ahead of the Nov. 16 launch. But eventually, with the help of team Dapper and a few reboots, I was able to use the app as intended.
6. I waited for my date to be confirmed.
7. And finally got this message.
Apparently, I can cancel the date or ping my potential to let her know I’m running late. And after the date, Dapper will ask her whether I was indeed a gentleman, and they could give me the heave-ho if I wasn’t. But how will they avoid “he said, she said” situations?
“We’re very down-to-earth, real New Yorkers,” Wittman says of team Dapper. “So I think we’ve decided we’re going to make that determination on our own and it’s going to be on a case-by-case basis.”
Of course, I won’t be asked if my date behaved. But what does it matter, anyway? A gentleman never tells.