The women look more diverse and like they’ve put more thought into it.
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As we move into the candlelit studio, we remove our shoes and are asked to stand in a traditional puja circle.
With phones on silent and in bags, ridding us of that electronic prop we so often turn to in challenging social situations, we continue to bask a little longer in that awkward silence until Guy kickstarts the night.
Unlike that man, who manages to break the almost tangible tension in the air with those few words that ultimately lead to conversation, I remain silent.
I make myself as small as I can, wedged between a pile of mats and a thick red velvet curtain that is inexplicably draped across the hallway as we wait to go in.
We should then place our hand on the man’s heart to bring the meeting to an end. What I’m acutely aware of is how used to or how comfortable the women in the room are with all of this.
Guy encourages us to have fun with it and, even if we don’t want to chat more, to make out like we’re putting a bead in there ‘just to fuck with them’. The two I’m sandwiched between in this inner circle are very open and loving.
Each ‘couple’ forms a ‘station’ and at each station we do an exercise together that Guy talks us through from his prompt cards, like a gameshow host. For the first one – as I sit opposite a total stranger – we’re asked to list all the things we find beautiful about the person in front of us. Another exercise has us sitting down, mirroring each other’s movements, which ends up feeling like a contemporary dance. With the next gentleman, I must now hug him and apologise on behalf of all my sisters, which he feels sincerely grateful for. Though Guy is pretty chill, approaching life talking about personal energies and meaningful connections, he’s also thankfully a New Yorker and can crack a joke.
While I ponder on what they’ve done during the lifetime of this poor chap, his body is heating up like a roaring furnace and I’m glad when I can finally let go before all moisture evaporates from my body. At the end of each rendezvous, lasting anywhere between a minute and three minutes, Guy invites us to pop one of our beads in the man’s pouch, if we are interested in talking more, while they stand with their eyes closed. It allows us to laugh at the awkwardness of it all and, perhaps, cunningly, let down our defensive walls, allowing people in and deepening the connection.
There are a lot of tops and trousers with kitten heels and one women, who signs us in when we arrive, wears a sweeping floor-length red dress with white polka dots.