Single New Yorkers gather for an Ambyr Club game night at Maxwell Social
Single New Yorkers gather for an Ambyr Club game night at Maxwell Social | Photo by Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet for Thrillist
Single New Yorkers gather for an Ambyr Club game night at Maxwell Social | Photo by Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet for Thrillist

We’re Entering a New Era of Matchmaking and Ambyr Club Is Leading the Charge

Finding love in a hopeless place (aka NYC).

We’re just going to say it: The dating scene in New York City is rough. When you’re looking for actual connection, the monotonous small talk on Hinge and Raya, and nights out at sceney bars where meet-cutes are far and few between, can get really old really quick. So after another failed situationship or clearing of the roster, who can blame you for having (entirely unhelpful) thoughts like “Will I ever find love?”, “Am I the problem?”, or in the most dire of cases “Should I just go to grad school?”

Pump the brakes on that incoming spiral! Instead, try finding love the old fashioned way (well, kind of) by deleting the apps and handing the reins over to Ambyr Club, a membership-based social club for singles in NYC.

The mind behind the madness is 27-year-old founder Victoria Van Ness. A self-professed matchmaker—with an IG bio that reads “Hitch is back… and she’s a woman”—Van Ness’ current mission is setting up the city’s eligible bachelors and bachelorettes through in-person speed dating, dinner parties, and interactive activities—all with a sexy undercurrent.

Founder of Ambyr Club, Victoria Van Ness
Founder of Ambyr Club, Victoria Van Ness | Photo by Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet for Thrillist

“Everything we do is about in-person connection,” says Van Ness. “Our bread and butter—and what we originally launched with—are speed dating events. Basically, you show up to a hot bar or restaurant in the city, there’s dim lighting, probably a disco ball, and a good playlist. Then you rotate around the room, five minutes per date. After a while, we noticed that we were accidentally building a community because everyone was going out together after the events. So now, we also do monthly parties like dinners and activities to help strengthen bonds within Ambyr Club. It gives people another way to connect.”

Instead of official matchmaking/relationship therapy training, Van Ness channels an intrinsic curiosity and a lack of social reservedness to work her magic of pairing couples up. She makes it a habit to unabashedly approach hotties in the wild solely in hopes of recruiting them to Ambyr Club. “With me, if I’m out on the street, at the gym, in the club, and I see a guy who I think is an eligible person, I go up to him. I give him a card. I’m like ‘Hey join Ambyr, blah, blah, blah.’ It’s like I’m sacrificing my own love life for the greater good of these New York women,” Van Ness chuckles.

When it comes to who is admitted into Ambyr Club, Van Ness entrusts the two-part, decision-making process to a team of seven New Yorkers of varying races, sexualities, and lifestyles. “I don’t want to be the only person that's looking at applications and saying yes or no. You can become jaded pretty quick, if it’s just you like, ‘Oh, here’s another finance person, here’s another creative.’” A diverse board to create a diverse dating pool is the idea.

The search for love in a hopeless place first starts with a preliminary 30-question survey online. A background check, if you will—job title, salary, volunteer work, interests, and hobbies. From there, if you’re deemed a suitable candidate, the second round entails a virtual, one-on-one interview with someone from the board. “It’s basically a temperature check to make sure that you are conversational, you are social and outgoing because at the end of the day, this is a social club,” Van Ness clarifies. Typical questions during this time dive deeper. So yes, you’re going to have to candidly talk about things like your dating history and what led to your last breakup. And if you make it past these love trials, an ecosystem of single cuties are at your fingertips.

There are two tiers of membership at Ambyr Club. In addition to the $199 initiation fee, gold memberships cost $99 per month and include access to the membership directory, exclusive access to products/services from brand partners, and 10% off the in-house matchmaking services. One level up, platinum memberships cost $129 per month and include the same perks plus 20% off the in-house matchmaking services, discounted speed-dating tickets, and more.

Other than the monthly fees, the only requirement of members is to actually engage. “We keep track of who’s going on dates because we want members who are really trying and looking for something serious. If we notice people are consistently coming and not following through with going out with someone or even texting back, then we kick them out,” says Van Ness. Essentially, ghosting is an outlawed practice here.

Ambyr Club members at a recent game night
Ambyr Club members at a recent game night | Photo by Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet for Thrillist

At the most recent monthly Ambyr Activities night (other iterations of which have included group workouts or cooking classes), 60 members flocked to Tribeca social club, Maxwell Social, to flirt over cocktails and games on a Thursday night. By 7:30 pm, you could practically feel an electric buzz of anticipation in the air. Less regulated than the classic speed-dating evenings, everyone was prompted to pick any seat in the room and settle into a game like charades, Sequence, or Hella Awkward (which involves pulling convo cards like “Do you believe in second chances for bad first dates?” and “What’s your favorite position?”). After 15 minutes, Van Ness used the ringing of a sound bowl to signal for participants to find a new seat with new people. By the end of the night, numbers were exchanged and smiles were splayed across faces.

See, not as scary as you might’ve imagined in-person dating linkups to be. Intentional dating is more of a movement than a trend. New York’s single baddies are burnt out from the apps and are leaving it to Van Ness to resuscitate romance in the city.

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Izzy Baskette is the New York City Staff Writer for Thrillist. Talk to her at izzy.baskette@voxmedia.com or find her on Instagram.