The Times joins Elect for the Spring Soiree

Would you join the £25,000 dating club? That was the question posed by Hannah Betts of The Times before joining Elect Club for a Monday night drinks party. It was an absolute pleasure to introduce Hannah to our own unique way of matching our clients and show her first hand just how much fun and success we have at these events.

The evening was a great success and the subsequent coverage in The Times has been fantastic. We look forward to seeing Hannah at an Elect Club event again very soon!

Read the full Times article:

Would you join the £25,000 dating club?

If Tinder is delivering too many duds, try the introduction agency for the unattached elite
Hannah Betts

April 28 2016, 1:01am, The Times
Zoe McClymont, the Elect Club’s dating coach with Max Moore, an internet advertising entrepreneur
Bronac McNeill Photography

It’s a Monday night and I am putting on my glad rags for a night on the tiles with the capital’s single elite. I am not an obvious candidate for this excursion, being riddled with flu and in a relationship with a man so perfect that people are forever inquiring why he’s with me. However, no matter: the cause of investigative journalism never sleeps, and if I am required back in the single field then into the field I will sally.

My destination is a “discreet drinks party” run by the Elect Club, billed as an exclusive introduction agency for London’s high-fliers. Their invitation makes mention of “eligible bachelors” cherry-picked by a squadron of roving ambassadors, high-profile female clients “exhausted” by their romantic quest and women tired of being pursued for their money or to be “trophy” girlfriends. The latter are not issues likely to come my way. However, for those who do suffer, 90 per cent are said to find love through the company.

“These women don’t have the time to waste searching for Mr Right,” writes the CEO and “passionpreneur” Genevieve Zawada, making me wonder what they do have time for. “Why is Miss London City single at 27?” asks the dating coach Zoe McClymont. I feel it would be an anachronism not to be single at 27, albeit not as much of an anachronism as beauty pageants.

However, it would be fair to say that although I have my prejudices about dating companies, they are legion. In the name of hackery I have had truck with another “elite” set-up and found it intent on uniting the world’s richest windbags with women on the make. Think: so many Alan Partridges proclaiming: “I am calling from an exclusive beach — would you like to join me on said exclusive beach?” Answer: not much.

Meanwhile, even the relatively benign banalities of internet dating have proved intolerable. My buttocks are yet to unclench from a text message that ran: “I truely [sic] love you and truely want to be with you.” I was truly appalled.

I am also the host of epic singles bashes of my own, and know that the formula isn’t rocket science, namely: venue + people + booze = intercourse. Marriages and offspring have also emerged out of these festivities, although I obviously considered this letting the side down.

As a consequence I am feeling distinctly sniffy when I arrive at a City members’ club. Despite being braced for the genre “short, oily banker”, my first impressions are positive: packed room, gender balance, smattering of the tall, a few young bucks, women showing skin and a promising degree of flirtation. I catch myself moving into slink mode.

The mood is also preternaturally friendly. Within seconds of slinking, I am embraced by McClymont and never on my own again for the rest of the evening. Genevieve and Zoe make a corking double-act. The former is angelic, eyes swimming with emotion. Her sidekick is a fox: lithe-limbed and carmine-pouted. Gen, at 45, is married; Zoe, 34, is a single girl. Both are warm, tactile, and have instant name-recall on their 100 or so guests, keeping a constant eye out for the floundering.

“I’ve been in this business for 22 years,” beams Zawada, “and I take the responsibility extremely seriously. We’re making futures: marriages, children.” The pair have about five thousand members on their books, 150 of whom are considered actively single at any one time (playing the field is not an option). The age range this evening is 23 to 64.

Elect prides itself on being ultra-selective, turning away up to 60 per cent of applicants if it feels they won’t benefit. Even the chosen may be deemed “not ready”, the symptoms of which are talking about one’s ex and not knowing what one wants. It’s a condition that clearly disturbs Team Elect and is treated with strenuous love-coaching.

She informs me in hushed tones that the men are ‘very high-end’

For once Elect is on side, it is stalwart. Zawada and McClymont are life coaches, and not backward about coming forward in suggesting where clients require makeovers — be they personal or sartorial — from their experts in dress, power postures or neurolinguistic programming.

Obviously, all this comes at a price, with subscriptions costing between £10,000 and £25,000 a year, depending on the doggedness of the intervention required. For those who go full-whack, there will be relentless introductions, drinks, parties, dinners, masked balls, an “absurdly flirty Hallowe’en party”, plus sundry coaching, all of which sounds more debilitating than whatever exhausted these poor, lovelorn individuals in the first place.

Zawada also attempts to impose Elect’s “no sex for ten dates” rule. “Ten!” I exclaim, spitting my drink across the table. “Well, some of these are pre-dates — coffees, drinks — so maybe it’s a six-date rule, but people need to learn to stop being dismissive and look beyond the initial buzz of chemistry.” This doesn’t sound very passionpreneur, but clearly I’m not ready.

I am introduced to Honour, poster girl for the process, who is six months into finding her man, and has brought a clutch of friends to share her joy. A 33-year-old headhunter, Honour is bright and attractive with exquisite vowel sounds: “The Elect model is incredibly powerful. I wanted an intellectual match, a cultural fit.”

I say that I truely (sic) know what she means.

She continues: “It’s basically romantic headhunting. The magic is that the matchmaker gets under your skin and you’ll be so well briefed that — even if you don’t fall in love — you make wonderful connections. At my age, you’re beyond the stage of ripping each other’s clothes off; you want to get past the chemical thing.” I’m not sure I’ve ever got past this, but nod as if a human being.

By now I am gagging to get myself out there. I hit the bar and immediately all the chaps seem older and less stallion-like. Not so the girls. I force myself upon Sunita — young, beautiful, with great hair. Is it me, or are we surrounded by frosty-tops, I ask. “It’s the drinks format,” Sunita, another headhunter, explains. “Club nights are younger and fitter.” What about him, I demand. “Gay,” we both chime. And, indeed, a couple of the better-looking coves appear to require coaching in their chosen sexuality.

I encourage Richard, 34, and Maria, 23, to join us. The latter is so lavishly lovely that I inadvertently take hold of her breast, something she kindly looks past. Richard turns out to be Elect’s power-posture guru and offers to teach me a love-targeted pelvic tilt. I inform him that I have this covered. How about that tall guy, I demand. “Not him,” a passing girl mouths. “He’s in cardboard.”
One of the agency’s London parties with Hannah Betts, centre
Bronac McNeill Photography

Charity head Sarah, who is in her thirties, is such a blast that she, Sunita and I trade numbers. She palpably enjoys single life: “I think for some of the men this is their social life. The women tend to be more outgoing, with this as just one of their options.” If there were ever an endorsement for Elect, it comes from Jane, a 38-year-old hedge-fund manager, who owes her marriage, baby and divorce to the company, and trusts the process so absolutely that she is back in the saddle. “Genevieve has a better idea of what I want than my friends, family, even me myself,” she twinkles.

In the name of research I direct my attentions towards Simon, a towering 41-year-old who has the eye of every woman in the room. He’s a sensitive soul, revealing that “I give everything in a relationship and am looking for devotion”, and dismissing the idea of a younger woman as “icky”. Not so sensitive, happily, that he isn’t down with me playing wingwoman and gesturing across the room bawling: “Her! Wait, her!”

I spy two chaps who appeal on a purely theoretical, goodness-my-editor-is-really-forcing-me-here-type level. The first is some continental character whom I am informed is “a tough nut to crack”, causing me to respond: “Pah! I will compel him to love me, then I will break him like the amateur he is.” (I told you I’m not ready.) The other is a sad-eyed, somewhat saggy, William Hurt-type lawyer, whom I obviously ignore.

In the main, however, I find the women more appealing than the men, despite 45 years of non-sapphic leanings. I know Gen can’t betray her boys, but aren’t they a bit meh in comparison? She informs me in hushed tones that the men I am referring to are “very high-end”, including a “top barrister” and “multi-multi-multimillionaire”. (The latter — also apparently the nicest chap in the room — I had privately dismissed with the phrase: “Hello, Grandad.”) Who cares how successful they are if they’re not hot, I cry.

Discussing this with friends, it turns out that many people do in fact care, and that I have only to head to the school gates to behold packs of sensational women paired with less sensational but solvent men. Maybe this is why one of the grandads declares, “I’m in my sixties, so don’t want to go out with women in their twenties,” in the manner of a man expecting brownie points for thinking a woman in her forties fair game.

I may not have fallen in love, but I encounter only two men I dislike, a statistic that is 400,000 times better than internet dating. The gathering is not only astonishingly friendly, but features that very un-British thing: an absolute lack of carping. It’s impossible to find a dissatisfied customer. Everyone adores Elect, loves the potential partners they meet and considers it thousands of pounds well spent.

Zawada glows serenely when I tell her this, as she hands out Kiehl’s face cream and posh chocs to the 1am stragglers. There are no snoggers, despite her having felt “like a headmistress” in the past. However, there has been “a lot of very positive body language”, and her clipboard is groaning with 30 dates to arrange. Personally, I’ve received a declaration of love, a marriage proposal and a (non-consensual) mouth kiss. If single life is this much fun, why would anyone pay to forsake it?

Some names have been changed

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