It’s a reputation that precedes us: the Seattle Freeze.
Whether you’ve lived here for a decade or a day, you’ve probably heard the expression. Chances are, you’ve experienced it firsthand. The term essentially means that it can be difficult for people – especially those who are new to the city – to make friends here, as Seattlites tend to stick with their already established groups of friends.
Seattle Freeze isn’t just about making new friends. It also applies to dating. It’s certainly not uncommon to meet someone on, say, a dating app like Bumble or Hinge, chat for an hour and never speak again.
“A lot of people have had issues with dating apps, swiping to the right, trying to keep a conversation going and not having the things that are really going nowhere,” said Alex Campbell.
Campbell, 31, moved from the UK to Seattle seven years ago to work for Microsoft, and he said he definitely felt the Seattle freeze. He took a solo trip to Nashville and New Orleans last summer, met new people, and said his love for forming new relationships was rekindled.
It was then that he decided to create Seattle IRL, a community for young adults to come together “in real life” and make connections.
So … how do you get the word out about wanting to plan a big date with strangers? Campbell edited his Bumble profile bio with a date, time and location, encouraging people to show up and invite their matches.
“I spent my summer evenings, you know, swiping right and messaging all these very similar people, ‘Hey, you know, follow Instagram, which has all the information. And, you know. , join GroupMe and meet us on Friday at [Optimism Brewing Company]. ‘”
His goal was to get as many people as possible to show up, and he said he spoke to around 40 to 50 people with varying levels of interest in the event.
“Not everyone liked the idea,” he said, noting that a lot of people are introverted, and some wondered if this would be like his own mini “The Bachelor” experience. “But by far it was surprising. Most of the people were in it.”
When the day arrived (October 1), Campbell said he sat alone with his beer for about 20 minutes and no one showed up. But by the half hour mark, people started flocking to the brewery. He said about 20 people in total showed up at the Seattle IRL inaugural meeting. They stayed until the brewery closed, then a group of them went dancing on Capitol Hill and closed the night at Dick’s Drive-In.
“It wasn’t what you would expect from a guy who invites all of his games,” Campbell said. “These are just people having a good time connecting with having good conversations. People talk about what they’re passionate about, amazing conversations are happening on their own.”
In an effort to spread the word ahead of the meeting, Campbell made a TikTok video with information about Seattle IRL and the Friday event – but it failed. By the time the event unfolded, the video had around 600 views.
Four days later, the video got a new lease of life and now has over 26,000 views, along with tons of comments saying people wished they had seen the video before the event ended and hoped another event would occur.
And to their luck, there is another event! Seattle’s second IRL meet takes place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 13 at Tapster in South Lake Union.
“We all have the same need and the same problem, a need to connect,” said Campbell. “The group tries to be as supportive and open to as many people and types of people as possible.”
It’s important to note that Seattle IRL isn’t just about dating. It’s just about bonding. If you’re interested, you can follow Seattle IRL on Instagram and join their GroupMe chat, which now has over 100 members.
“Seattle IRL is just about bringing people together in real life,” Campbell said. “Do not waste anymore time.”