Digital love: Webutante Ball draws New York's tech singles
The upcoming annual Webutante Ball is well-known for being one of New York's biggest tech parties, but it also functions as the perfect pickup spot for Silicon Alley singles.
Internet Week's Webutante Ball is well-known for being one of New York's biggest tech parties, but it also functions as the perfect pickup spot for Silicon Alley singles.
Founder Richard Blakeley said unlike at other male-dominated tech events, the Ball's gender ratio is fairly even.
"Most tech parties in New York are after work drinks at a bar where you come with your laptop on your back, sweating, and stand awkwardly in a corner with a bunch of other guys," said Blakeley.
But at the Webutante Ball, tech scenesters dress to kill in tuxedos and cocktail dresses. Add a DJ and free-flowing booze and it's no surprise that the party becomes a hot spot for ambitious young people in tech looking to exchange phone numbers - and not just to network.
Lisa Besserman moved to Argentina in 2012 to found Startup Buenos Aires, but that hasn't stopped her from attending every Webutante Ball since it started in 2009.
"I was single for the first couple of them and I always walked away with a few numbers," she said. "It's so laid-back and you're with like-minded people and it's really great to meet people you have a connection with."
Graphic designer Nick McGlynn admitted to getting lucky at a Webutante Ball in the past. "It's a prom for tech nerds, and I mean, what better place to hook up than at a prom?" he asked. "You see these people at networking mixers and other media events and panels, but you never actually get to hang out and flirt, so given the opportunity, those ides make other events finally come to fruition."
At least one couple is walking down the aisle thanks to the geek chic bash. "I famously introduced two very unlikely people to each other at a Webutante Ball - and they are getting married," bragged journalist Julia Allison. Those two people are Ari Melber, co-host of MSNBC's "The Cycle," and Drew Grant, a writer at the New York Observer. "It's sort of the Met Gala for that particular scene in New York - but it's a pretty dorky scene," added Allison.
It's a scene that isn't afraid to poke fun at itself: Every Webutante Ball features a king and queen, and couples are encouraged to strike prom poses in their photos.
Alison Flood, director of business development at ICED Media, helped organize the 2010 Webutante Ball, but had a hard time flirting because of some game-killing guests: her parents. On Tuesday, she will be unfettered and ready to mingle. "I'm not bringing my dad this year, so who knows what can happen? It's anyone's game," she said.
For tickets and information on the Webutante Ball, visit the event's website here.
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark