Adelaide Fringe

Fringe Review: The Fringe Social

It can be intimidating meeting strangers, but also thrilling when you make great connections with someone you don’t know

A great premise with the goal of connecting strangers, especially relevant in a post-lockdown society, unfortunately doesn’t reach the same excitement levels as last year.

Presented by Social Co Speed Dating

Reviewed 14 March 2021

Although a great premise, the execution of The Fringe Social this year doesn’t quite compare to last year’s roaring success at Gluttony.

It can be intimidating meeting strangers, but also thrilling when you make great connections with someone you don’t know, whether it involves bonding over your favourite tv show or comparing lockdown boredom projects, and that’s the risk you’ve got to be willing to take at The Fringe Social. As many at the event did, taking a friend or group of friends along is a great idea for those who may have a bit more anxiety about the situation. This anxiety, though, did appear to affect a few ticket holders with the event missing many attendees, especially the men with roughly 90% of those who attended being female.

The premise of The Fringe Social is very similar to that of speed dating; half of the attendees stay in permanent seating while the other half rotate around the room through five-minute blocks of conversation with the aim of a friendly (non-romantic) connection. At each set of socially-distanced seats were sheets of prompting ice-breakers, which included a range of questions, such as “what is your favourite season?”, “what is the last meal you ate?”, “what is your favourite tv show?” and “would you rather be able to run at 100 kmph or fly at 10 mph?”. Although in many cases these questions weren’t necessary as people naturally chatted. When asked, most questions led to fascinating answers, allowing the person answering to slowly open themselves up to a total stranger. Rarely did you receive short and sharp answers with no room for conversational growth. The type of answer you got, though, was dependant on how open to the experience the person sitting opposite you was.

It did feel a little exhausting talking in five minute intervals to strangers for almost an hour, and with the space that was available on the rooftop of the brew-pub it might have even been worth throwing some ice-breaker games into the mix to shake things up. Another good suggestion, made by an attendee, was name tags, as he admitted that he wouldn’t be able to remember everyone’s names (and I’m sure many would agree with this).

Unfortunately, due somewhat to restricted numbers for Covid safety and distanced seating, and a lot to ticket buyers not turning up, the rooftop at Sparkke at the Whitmore did feel quite empty. The unfortunate turn out in numbers could also have something to do with the venue change, as last year saw a sold-out event at Gluttony, brimming with enthusiastic, chatting strangers and a warm, friendly atmosphere. This year’s event on the other side of town on Whitmore Square just didn’t carry the same, excited vibes that you find at Gluttony – a magical pop-up that transports you into a different reality where meeting strangers isn’t as intimidating. Hopefully next year The Fringe Social finds its place back in Gluttony, or perhaps closer to the magic of the Fringe’s hub on East Terrace.

The premise of The Fringe Social is great – connecting strangers, especially in a post-covid lockdown and technology dependent society, though next year hopefully the location will be seriously considered and its potential impact on attendance taken into account.

Reviewed by Georgina Smerd

One Night Only – Season Ended

Rating out of 5: 2.5

Adelaide Fringe, interactive, Sparkke at The Whitmore, Social Co Speed Dating




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