Dating North London: Bumble vs Down The Pub

Written by: Sophie Taylor

St Valentines is rubbing his belly with touchscreen gloves.

“This is your month for love!” My horoscope gives me a toothy grin. Ooh!

Wait, how? I’ve sworn off dating with no plans to leave the house for the rest of the cold, broke Winter season. If anyone wants me I’m going to be listening to Neil Diamond in my she-cave.

North Four, North London magazine, dating north london, online vs offline, bumble app, pub, breadcrumbing

Another tab open on my desktop happens to be an article about the latest depressing dating verb, breadcrumbing. Breadcrumbing is basically a crueler form of ghosting (yes, a harsher world exists you just have to want it enough).

You’ve likely experienced it and done it a bit yourself without realising – not being in touch just long enough for them to start wondering, but prodding them again right before they start giving up. There’s an art to breadcrumbing and I for one don’t want to master it.

My god modern life is fantastically shit. Am I just getting old? I massively can’t be bothered with the dating realm at the moment. Thanks to my editor and her grand plans however, this may just be my month for attempted love at least.

We want to know the difference between the online and offline approach when it comes to finding a mate. Is it to start by not calling them mates, perhaps? Did I mention I’m getting old?

The conversation has to end when he asked me to be his Melania Trump.

We wonder if we’re starting to see a trend towards meeting people in the more traditional way, off grid and by, I dunno, a bar.  

North Four, North London magazine, dating north london, online vs offline, bumble app, pub, cinderella, cinderfella, bumble app

Having spotted more than one handwritten note tied to a lamppost and scrawled on posters searching for a chance encounter, I’m considering the lean towards more IRL ways of finding love.

Or is finding love digitally an inevitability of the way we communicate now? And does it matter either way? Enough questions?

Well. I am the fat-single-and-ready-to-mingle guinea pig, ready to find the answers. (That was my avatar name until my editor told me no-one has avatars and it’s not 2002). I am about to embark on a series of test dates to compare digital vs real world dating approaches.

Because it’s 2017, St Valentines is rubbing his belly with touchscreen gloves and we will never get enough of reading potential cringe material.

Research Article Number One: Bumble vs Down the Pub.

Bumble is a dating app designed to help reduce relentless pestering and allows for one person to approach a match first, depending on your sexual orientation, within a 24 hour period. The match then has 24 hours to respond.

The real life equivalent we decide, would be approaching someone in a pub and organising a date within 24 hours. Sounds easy enough. Here goes not much.

North Four, North London magazine, dating north london, online vs offline, bumble app, pub

Online: Bumble

I take a badly lit no make up selfie from underneath my chin, look at it, vomit and assume my new role as a Catfish

After downloading the app I’m immediately confronted with people I know (/ probable love of my life) staring back at me. Bleurgh. I swipe right and guess what? Even my friends (/probable love of my life) don’t want to match with me. Strong start. My ego takes a bash, but KBO* as my mum says. It’s a lot like Tinder but with stealth upwards swipes for more photos and info. I start chatting with someone who at one point describes himself as black Donald Trump. Oh, I meant to mention, I have excellent taste. A hilarious joke 😶 but the conversation has to end when he asked me to be his Melania.

One match tells me he’s just up for sex and another tells me I’m too young. KBO fat-single-and-ready-to-mingle you’ve got this! Except I didn’t have this and kept forgetting to chat with my matches within the 24 hour countdown at which point they fade away like Cinders at midnight.

North Four, North London magazine, Valentines, dating, online vs offline dating

Getting to grips with this notion, and after remembering I’m supposed to swipe right at some point, I end up matching with Adam**.

He’s a London native, which is incredibly rare, with an impressive knowledge of good pubs. It’s going swimmingly until he asks for my Instagram name. Bah! I come to realise having a well stocked Insta is vital for online dating. It helps people get a better picture of you without asking to add you on Facebook which is deemed a bit more stalky. Got it. But I have 13 Instagram pics and one of them is of my boiler.

It then begins to dawn on me that my Bumble photos are rather well angled and probably (definitely) misleading. Am I a catfish? I take a badly lit no make up selfie from underneath my chin, look at it, vomit and assume my new role as a Catfish instead. Adam** isn’t my usual type but those tortured soul painter types haven’t particularly worked in the past, so perhaps it’s time for a fresh start. He’s straightforward, funny and kind and perhaps that’s what I want in a match right now.

We take subtle cues from body language and pheromones when it comes to heady, gut wrenching attraction.

We meet in The Worlds End pub on Stroud Green Road, not least for their fantastic array of ales but also for the dimmed lighting and the fact it’s never deathly, awkwardly quiet.

Here’s the clincher. Something I’ve noticed in doing my research is that it’s not just me that is attracted to a person’s mannerisms. The way someone laughs, the way they push a point with a camp hand gesture, how they look at you when they’ve just told a joke and they’re waiting for you to get it. From the tone of their voice to the way they smell, it’s a well known fact that we take subtle cues from body language and pheromones when it comes to heady, gut wrenching attraction.

This is something we can’t fathom from a few static photos and texts. Adam** is tall, handsome and perfectly easy going. He’s appeasing, kindhearted and definitely a proper catch for a whole host of eligible women. But chemically he’s just not my type unfortunately.

We say our goodbyes and decide to stay in touch as drinking buddies. I find myself looking back at Bumble wondering why that particular ‘friend’ didn’t swipe right on my well angled photos. I delete the little yellow app and pop my phone back in my bag.

I wonder if you have to be a little more forward in reality.

North Four, North London magazine, dating north london, online vs offline, bumble app, pub, pool

Offline: Down The Pub

Okay, time to try the offline approach. After work pints on a Friday at the Faltering Fullback seems like a good place to start. Here’s another thing about online dating: after using the apps consistently for a week or so, I find my brain swiping left and right on unsuspecting human faces walking past. Like the time I played Tetris for three days straight and my brother’s facial features started falling rhythmically into his shoulders while he suggested I should probably get out the house.

Back in the pub I order a pint and decide on my real world offline method. Luckily for me the contrived approach is no longer necessary as a man’s wool scarf falls at my feet. Oh woolen fate! Whereas ordinarily I’d give the scarf back and go about my business, this time I take the chance to strike up a conversation. Which is when I realise: the risks involved with the offline making-the-first-move format are threefold.

Firstly, you don’t know if they’re interested so rejection is almost certainly on the cards. Secondly, you don’t know if they’re actually available. Thirdly, if you do end up chatting they might just be being polite. Scarf man does the latter and walks away after a brief laugh at the bar. I wonder if you have to be a little more forward in reality. There’s no underlying acknowledgement that you’re both keen to date someone when you’re just hanging out down the pub. Hmm.

North Four, North London magazine, dating north london, online vs offline, bumble app, pub, pool, tweed cap, peanuts, pints

Next I attempt a more forward method of asking another cheeky faced chap if he wants a drink, blaming it on the £10 card minimum. He declines with a smile and I begin to feel a tad desperate, remembering why I don’t do this. I’m suddenly aware that someone has been watching my pathetic show from a corner seat and we catch each other’s eye. I trundle over and ask if he fancies a game of pool in the other room. Again I am declined, but he gestures for me to sit next to him and watch the rugby on the big screen.

He’s picked the best seat in the house for it and we have a super hot chat about the history of Finsbury Park architecture. Hey, there’s no faulting my conversational foreplay. The guy’s a hoot and terribly interesting, but he’s about 79 and definitely not interested in dating. He offers me some roasted peanuts before his tweed cap goes on and it’s home time. For him. I didn’t go home with him.

London can be somewhat cliquey and closed off at the best of times.

At this point I give up and resign myself to a night with my friends, putting the world to rights, cheers-ing at every round and generally making each other cackle with various disgusting stories. But then, mid howl, a group of guys challenge us to a game of pool. Normally I’d smile and politely decline in favour of sticking with my friends. But in the name of research I grab a stick and chalk up. Game on.

North Four, North London magazine, dating north london, online vs offline, bumble app

Well I lost and I certainly didn’t go home with numbers scrawled on my arms, but I had a particularly fun after work drinks session having learned that Finsbury Park was once used as a meeting place for pacifists in the First World War.

💛 What was your fave?

Not a reflection on Adam** who was a delight, I definitely preferred the unpredictability of the real world approach with less pressure and more escape routes. Bumble, with it’s 24 hour countdowns and disappearing Cinderfellas is a little stressy for me.

💛 What would you have done differently?

I’ll be taking my new open minded outlook to the pub next time.

💛 Want to see anyone again?

Not this time, but I haven’t lost hope in the dating world just yet.

💛 Online vs Offline winner?

Offline. Although no second dates, real life wins this round. 

If nothing else, it brought me out of my usual hermity, closed off, clamshell existence and made sure I physically spoke to others outside of my friend group. London can be somewhat cliquey and closed off at the best of times and I’m certainly a victim / perpetrator of that sad reality.

North Four, North London magazine, Valentines, dating, online vs offline dating

So here’s to quitting Tetris, getting out there and meeting people: online or offline, romantically or otherwise. I definitely made more drinking buddies and you’ll never hear me complaining about that. I still don’t know all the answers to my online vs offline questions though, so eyes peeled for the next instalment.

Next time: Happn vs Dog Walking and more depressing new dating verbs for your vocab.

*keep buggering on. Good slogan isn’t it. You can have that one.

**names have been changed

Original illustrations by Julia Potocnik.

Check out our top four ways to enjoy yourself this Valentines.

North Four, North London magazine, kings cross remix, good times, london clubbing, theatre, play, review, night life

Theatre of Changing Spaces: Kings Cross in the '80s

“Only last night I found myself lost / by the station called King's Cross. / Dead and wounded on either side / you know it's only a matter of time.” [Pet Shop Boys - Kings Cross] It’s the night after the play and I’m standing at the bar of ‘The Big Chill House’ on Pentonville Road in Kings Cross. It’s ‘Throwback Thursday’ (#TBT) and happy hour is definitely over.

North Four, North London magazine, laura bird, ceramics, pottery, glaze, figures, planters, candles, artist

Local Creatives: Laura Bird Ceramics

Ceramics with charisma. Local pottery genius, Laura Bird has of course graced the digital pages of It’s Nice That, sold out in Anthropologie* and taken her seat at many a London ceramics stall since just recently starting her career in ceramics. It’s no surprise she is well loved: her unique and gentle humour exudes from every jar, planter and candlestick holder, adorned with cheeky expressions and impish grins.

North Four, North London magazine, walnut cafe and dining, restaurant, cuisine, launch, stroud green, finsbury park
Eat & Drink

Fresh Comfort Food: Walnut Cafe and Dining

Having worked in hospitality with a keen artist’s eye, the Arts Building knew Emma was perfect to take over the space. They were after a morning to night eatery for the neighbourhood, one for local residents and workers alike. Knowing the street’s reputation as a bit of a foodie strip, the menu had to be up to scratch for it’s discerning super-taster of a community. Yes, we’re a hungry bunch in Stroud Green.

North Four, North London magazine, supper club, twin peaks, cuisine, dining, olivia potts, kate young, food writers, chefs, twin peaks, agent cooper

Twin Peaks Supper Club, North London

At the time of writing this the menu has just been released for Food by Feast’s new supper club. I imagine, however, that by the time you read this every dining space will be swiftly filled. If you aren’t acquainted with the duo yet (tsk), they’re the genius collaboration of Cordon Bleu chef and food writer Olivia Potts and Guardian food writer and cook, Kate Young. Having successfully completed the likes of a Gilmore Girls supper club to rapturous applause and smacking lips recently, the latest menu experience is Twin Peaks inspired and looks equally witty and delectable.

North Four, North London magazine, sound bath, gong bath experience, healing, stoke newington, event, meditation,

Get Your Shaman On: Gong Bath in Stokey

Sound healing in Stoke Newington. This Thursday 18th May, The Mystery School of Sound are running a de-stress gong bath experience in Stoke Newington Ramadan Mosque. Alongside guided meditation, healing process and gong performace, you’ll get a mini intro to healing traditions of the druids and hermetic teaching.

North Four, North London magazine, cannes film festival, the artist, screening, film, the rose and crown, pub, Patron pop up cinema

Pop Up Cinema: Celebrate Cannes in Kentish Town

Patron Cave a Manger’s pop up cinema are shacking up at The Rose and Crown in Kentish Town to screen The Artist. Soak up the atmoshpere of the Festival du Cannes with swanky popcorn and elegant cocktails. Get red carpet ready for this special screening of The Artist - the ridiculously popular award winning silent French film that everyone fell in love with.

North Four, North London magazine, arancini brothers, risotto balls, street food, pop up, food stall, stoke newington food market, church street, wrap

Stokey Food Market: Fundraising for the Community

Unfortunately rising rents are affecting community spaces in Stoke Newington and their availability. St Mary’s Centre currently provides a space for projects including the Foodbank, Hackney Migrants centre and the Night Shelter but they're at risk of losing their space. To help raise funds to redevelop the space and increase awareness, they are organising a weekend food market in Stokey. The pop-up food market is a launch event for their huge fundraising drive to rebuild the community rooms attached to St Mary's Church in Stoke Newington.

North Four, North London magazine, kate oates, yoga, instagram, chocolate mousse, raspberry, healthy, recipe, avocado, cacao
Eat & Drink

Eating North London: Healthy Chocolate Breakfast with Kate Oates

Healthy chocolate mousse and sexing up your smoothie with Kate Oates. We have found ourselves a yoga guru in Kate Oates, a healthtastic yogi based in Crouch End. When we met her last year she hinted at a few of her own culinary creations and boy were we intrigued. Asking for an exclusive recipe for you health conscious readers, we received a taste sensation of an idea for chocolate breakfast.

North Four, North London magazine, single cylinders, speed dating, bolt motorbike shop, alternative dating

Alternative Speed Dating with Single Cylinders

“All My Single Cylinders, All My Single Cylinders”. Two girls, sick to the back teeth of Tindering and Bumbling about the bars of London, decided to create their own speed dating night. Involved in the biker community of East London they have created a special series of nights combining live music, motorbikes and speed dates. Bolt Motorbike Shop of Stoke Newington is their latest venue, providing a more intriguing backdrop for your date night and quashing the usual awkwardness of sparse, brightly lit speed dating scenarios. You can admire the motors, enjoy your free drinks and listen to some live music with some top notch handpicked company.

North Four, North London magazine, proper piirakka, Karelian pasties, pies, pop up, cuisine, finland, Aapo Nieminen
Eat & Drink

Pop Up Proper Piirakka in Finsbury Park

In case you’ve never had a piirakka, (also known as Karelian pasties, pies or pirogs) they’re a delicious Finnish treat that you need to try immediately. Whether savoury or sweet, they’re basically a light pastie made with rye flour and a pretty unique variety of filling options. Meet Aapo Nieminen, a native Finnish local who grew up with piirakka. After getting tired of asking friends and family to bring him these naughty little pasties whenever they visited he came up with a plan. “They are an important part of everyday finish life. One day I thought why not just make them yourself?”


North London Bike Tour: Giro d'North Four

The lycra is optional. Coffee however, isn't. On Friday 197 cyclists descended on Sardinia to compete in the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia. For those of you that don't have wardrobes filled with lycra you might never of heard of it but Think Tour d'France but in Italy. Still drawing a blank?

North Four, North London magazine, cookie dough, cafe, naked dough, old street
Eat & Drink

Millenial Munchers Heaven: Cookie Dough Cafe

Naked Dough have appeared like a pair of beautiful fairy godmothers to lead me to an actual edible cookie dough dance party. Plus they didn’t even tell me what I should wear, they genuinely don’t care. Naked Dough is a new restaurant serving edible cookie dough from tubs, cones and even carry home pots. The ingredients are raw egg free and the flour is heat-treated so you need not worry-like-Edwina-Currie about salmonella and stomach bloat (unless you’re gluten free of course. In which case I’m sorry you’ve stumbled upon this torture page of an article).

North Four, North London magazine, mint vintage, denim, jeans, launch, party, stoke newington

MINT Vintage, The Denim Edition

Ten years ago MINT Vintage first opened in Covent Garden before moving on to the more creative surrounds of Stoke Newington, pioneering fashion forward vintage. Every piece is hand selected and sourced from all over the world, ensuring every garment is trend driven but timeless and always unique. This May they’ve decided to transform their world in to an “oops we were trying to make corduroy and came up with denim” dreamland*.

North Four, North London magazine, kayaking, secret adventures, canals, canoe, oars, hackney wick

Carry On Up the Canal with Secret Adventures

Finding myself wandering around Limehouse Basin craving a pint and perhaps even a slice of pizza, I needed to get home to my local Crate Brewery sharpish (they do the freshest craft beers and have award winning pizzas). But how to get there? Stumbling in to Limehouse Station and towards a huge sign saying CLOSED, I consider walking there instead. A short meander riverwards, I reach the canal and begin to notice a group of people donning chunky waistcoats stretching their arms around. I pause for a second, swaying slightly on the spot, watching this mesmerising circle of humans yielding huge double ended spoons.

North Four, North London magazine, psych, music, gig, nambucca, sike!, Dazy Crown

‘Not another psych night’ at Nambucca

"Ooh they’re doing a psych night at Moth Club Tina!” "What, again?” It’s a familiar sentence. Fast becoming a buzzword for young musos and Beyond Retro dwellers alike, psych music is no longer just for the suede fringed waistcoat wearing Acid Jazz lovers who curse their parents they weren’t born in 1966. No no. The psych music spectrum has spread it’s bendy wings and shaken off it’s lava lamp skin to embrace a whole host of musical genres. From William Burroughs to Pet Sounds to Thee Oh Sees, the genre’s had a birth, decline and resurgence. Nambucca in Finsbury Park are totally capitalising on this revival with their new monthly night, SIKE! This Thursday 11th May, they’re bringing four different acts who are all covering different elements of the psych scene.

North Four, North London magazine, the good egg, stoke newington, beer and bagels, restaurant, menu

Beer and Bagels at The Good Egg, Stokey

Back in 2014 The Good Egg was hatched, mixing Californian sunshine with Tel Aviv traditions to bring one heck of a menu to Stoke Newington. Food critics, instagrammers and swathes of Stokey baby holders flocked to it’s doors to get stuck in to the Jerusalem breakfast, merguez sausage and indeed eggs washed down with spicy brunch cocktails.