It’s 7 p.m. and I’m standing in a line that stretches down an entire New York City street, waiting to be granted entry into The Hive, a pop-up bar from the dating app, Bumble. That’s right, a brick-and-mortar Bumble bar, where singles go to meet people without the hassle of swiping left and right, but all the hassle of having to talk to people in real life.
The Hive is the first physical space designed by the app, open for one month only, with the possibility of expanding to other cities. By day, it’s a lecture space and networking hub, but by night, it’s a nightclub for matches to meet in person and for singles to mingle.
When I first heard about The Hive, I wondered how it would play out. The app’s entire business model is based on “female empowerment,” allowing only ladies to send the first message. It’s known for being slightly classier than some other apps, often being described as “Tinder, but with jobs.” But in my experience, it’s filled with just as many sketchy pick-up lines, commitment-phobes and date plans that disappear into the ether.
At Bumble IRL, would I be expected to make the first move, just like in the app? Would I still have to ask people about their favorite thing to do in the city in order to immediately weed out anyone who says, “Go to jazz clubs?” On this miserably sticky Friday night in June, I was about to find out.
And just when I think I’d rather be anywhere else, it starts to rain.
No one in line is dissuaded by the weather, including the umbrella-less man next to me. I invite him to come share mine and he introduces himself as Dev. He’s there solo, hoping to meet someone and, more truthfully, pregaming for the rest of his night.