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5,000 Turn Up at 'Meet and Mate' Mega Event

Some were shy, others bold. Some played the waiting game, others sent their mothers to stand in and scout around.

The curtain came up on the eagerly-awaited largest matchmaking party in China's Shanghai city on Saturday evening and the turnout did not disappoint.

About 5,000 single men and women converged on Zhongshan Park in search of their soulmates for the event billed as "meet and mate."

The criteria for entry was strict: Only white-collar workers with at least a college education and aged between 20 and 45.

The 4-hour party, which started at 4 PM, was spiced up with a series of activities like the selection of the queen and king of the night, 8-minute speed dating and various games which featured couples.

To add to the romantic atmosphere, each participant was given a rose upon entrance, to be given to the "right" person.

"If you are too shy to approach someone, you could ask 'Cupids' to deliver the flower or a message," said Yu Jian from the organizing committee, some of whose members were ready with arrow in tow.

But more practical, according to Yu, was a booklet prepared for each participant.

"We have details of all the people who signed up. If one is interested in somebody, but doesn't have a chance to talk, he or she can give a call or send an e-mail later."

He Qu, a young entrepreneur, saw it as a networking exercise apart from a romantic liaison: "It's a good opportunity to make friends even if I cannot find my Ms. Right."

Henny Xu, a 23-year-old bank clerk, said she was pleased with the event: "A big party like this is quite an effective way to seek partners. I can meet so many people in a short time."

But it was not all young people at the party. Yu Su'e, who has a 32-year-old civil-servant daughter, said: "I came in place of her. She was too busy to come."

Yu was well equipped, shooting pictures on a digital came to show "suitable men" to her daughter.

If there was one glitch, it was gender "inequality" there were far more women than men, as Yu found out the men had too much on their hands.

In explanation, Jiang Ning, from the Shanghai Association of Matchmaking Services, said men, typically, were more reluctant to attend such events. "Compared with women who want to get married after reaching a certain age, men tend to think their careers are more important," Jiang said, adding that the men-women ratio at the party was about 1:2.

While the women were complaining about the shortage of men, many men were grumbling about meeting too many women.

"As the old saying goes, too many directions take you nowhere," said Rex Pu, a local man in his 30s.

But one thing everyone agreed upon: A good time was had by all.

(China Daily October 24, 2005)

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