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Switcharoo – Strangers for dinner

by frenne on March 12, 2010

About a year ago I moved back from Copenhagen to my hometown Stockholm, the city that never evolves. Same restaurants, clubs, surroundings and friends. Not in a bad way, I love both Stockholm and my friends.

But what I realized was that I almost never meet my friends’ friends.
And since my friends are good people, I take for granted that my friends have the same standards as I regarding their friends. So I had an idea.

I made plans with 5 of my friends to each invite 4 of their friends to a dinner party. But the friends they invited, did not go to dinner where they were supposed to but were apportioned the others dinner parties (If you think this is hard to understand, imagine what they thought when I tried to involve them)
The dinner was set to start at 18:00 and that they should be finished by 21:00 in order to meet up with everyone at my place for the final party.

It turned out to be a great success, so great that I have done it twice more afterwards. And each time with twice as many people. So the last Switcharoo I arranged with my friend Max turned out to a total of 13 dinner parties and 61 strangers all around Stockholm that ended up partying together till early morning.

This is such a weird thing to experience, since you dine with people you have never met yet has some untold relationship with. It all starts out as a blind-date but soon turns into a perfect mix of interesting new relations as well as old ones.

As I get all of the names that will be attending I try as hard as possible to make sure that no one knows each other before. And this was the end result from the previous Switcharoo.

As everyone finally lets go of their anxiety from the dinner party it is time to go the final party, and this is where the magic happens. Even though we are Swedes and famous for being shy and withdrawn, everyone seems so relaxed in engaging other people as if they knew them before and has great time together. It is of course fun hearing from ones original friends how their dinner turned out, but just as fun asking other people the very same question. Since they have been through the same thing.

I believe one of the keystones of this concept is the you leave your comfort zone in the protection of your friends friends. And when you feel relaxed with this you are more open-minded and comfortable engaging new people with a topic that is exclusive but relevant.