BODA’s get together takes place at LEAF, Bold Street, Saturday 4th March.

Bored of Dating Apps – or BODA as it’s affectionately known by regulars – is all about traditional face-to-face dating set in a relaxed social get together. There’s no pressure to mingle and chat, but that’s exactly what everyone does; guests come in groups of singles but many come on their own and have been for almost the last year, drawn to something new happening in Liverpool and rejecting the culture of dating apps.

The community BODA has cultivated is been inspired by Jess Evans, its founder. She created her dating night partly in response to people ditching dating apps and mindless swiping to get back to basics and be in a room with like-minded others. At BODA, there’s live music or DJs, drinks and a supportive, inquisitive and caring environment. And as romance and friendships have bloomed from her events both in Liverpool and also over in Manchester, the origins of her idea for BODA came from a particularly important place.

Jess explains:

“Looking after our mental health in dating is at the heart of BODA, and one of the highlights for me personally has been the honest conversations I’ve had with attendees about loneliness, dating app exhaustion and the struggles of modern dating. I’ve got very emotional – happy emotional – by the amount of people who come to our socials on their own. Around 95% of our attendees rock up solo. They’ve said any nerves they felt before about walking in on their own were outweighed by the state of their mental health. People are stepping out of their comfort zones with a leap of faith, because there’s too much at stake, and they keep coming back which is great to see. One guest recently told me: ‘I got a couple of numbers from a BODA social but it was more the encouragement that there’s so many brilliant single people out there, which was the biggest takeaway. Regardless of whether these dates materialise to anything, I’m coming away feeling better about myself.’”

It feels certain that people are pining for a return to a simpler and more healthy dating climate. There’s a nostalgia for a dating life pre-apps and pre-social media – imagine being able to rewind before such apps were everywhere? Dating apps have made it easier than before to get a date but even harder to get a connection. That tangible felt sense of meeting someone and there’s an actual spark. Experienced through a screen it’s harder, if not impossible. Most people want connection right now, not another throwaway date and days spent glued to their phones endlessly swiping. The culture of BODA also feels partly born from a post-pandemic reaction to enduring two years of limited social contact.

Because what Jess has lovingly created is all about making people feel comfortable in a room largely filled with strangers.

Jess adds:

“With every BODA social we get busier because people more than ever are prioritising their mental health. We’re not sure these types of offline dating gatherings would have worked as well just five years ago, but since the pandemic and after over 10 years of swiping-style dating apps, people have become bolder in their dating habits. Seeing this happen and feeling it at BODA is palpable.”

And to celebrate reaching BODA’s first birthday, Jess is throwing a 90s party on Saturday 4th March at LEAF on Bold Street.

She adds:

“To be reaching our first birthday is fantastic. I’m especially excited because so many people have grown connected through BODA – friendships as well as romantic relationships. Seeing all of this unfold and also becoming friends with many regulars myself is an amazing feeling, knowing we are offering something not only different but for which there is this ongoing need. I’m incredibly proud not only of BODA itself but the community it’s creating and I hope we will keep going and have more new guests attending, especially for our 1st birthday and beyond.”

Jess asked some BODA patrons about their experiences over the last 12 months and this what they said:

Chloe Turtle:

“Me and my boyfriend met in BODA back in April and it gave us the perfect opportunity to meet. We’re nearly celebrating one year together. I also met my new absolute bestie girl pal that night and we’re literally the same person! My long lost twinnie!”

Alastair Burrows:

“BODA events are full of amazing people who accept everyone for who they are because that’s exactly the foundation of BODA is about. I’ve met several someones and made some new mates. You can see they have made such a massive difference to so many people’s lives, myself included.”

Jade Cunningham:

“BODA isn’t just about finding a partner. It’s about meeting single people to actually hang out with if your friendship group is full of couples. For someone who found that suddenly she wasn’t going out much, BODA has made a massive difference to my life. I am so much happier and more confident.”

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