Valentine’s Day is here and for some, it’s a reminder that love just isn’t in the cards right now. But instead of dwelling on what could’ve been, think about what could be! And what better way to meet people than being blindfolded and handcuffed in a room full of strangers who all want to escape with you?
That’s exactly what the team at Breakout Games in Falls Church, an escape room-themed company that tasks groups with solving a series of puzzles in an hour in order to exit the room, was thinking by offering a unique ambiance for the dating world with its singles mixer this Friday. The idea was originally concocted by game lead Meghan Belk who then sold Breakout’s general manager Forrest Bowen on the concept as well. After schmoozing Breakout’s bigwigs at its corporate headquarters to sign off on the idea, the local Falls Church store will be the company’s first ever to do an event of this kind.
“We thought it’d be a great way for people to see each other’s true colors since they come and work together under pressure,” Belk said. “You get to know people very quickly in that type of situation and it’s also just a lot of fun. It takes the awkwardness out of getting to know people.”
Romance isn’t totally unheard of in these escape room events. One customer proposed following an escape room session, and Belk admits she and her husband participate in the escape rooms all the time. To set the mood for the mixer, the team at Falls Church Breakout wisely chose the “Kidnapping” room, which really does have the participants start out blindfolded and handcuffed to start their 60 minute timer.
Normally when teams complete the challenge they’ll have a quick powwow about the experience and take a group photo next to one of the Breakout logos in the lobby. A new twist the single’s mixer is bringing is that participants will fill out short informational cards, so if they do happen to a find a Ms. or Mr. Right while frantically figuring their way out of the room, they can share it with them. Even better, Bowen notes the local Breakout is continuing its partnership with Mad Fox Brewing Company, which will host the escapees for some drinks on-the-lamb. Any couples that do hit it off outside of the Breakout environment are welcomed back for a 50-percent discount during their next visit.
So far no one has signed up for the mixer, but per Bowen, that’s not unusual. The nature of the business is last minute and the Breakout Falls Church team is optimistic they’ll be able attract some singles to the event. Part of the genius of the mixer, after all, is it’s the day after Valentine’s Day, and just so happens to be on a Friday. Bowen and Belk think they offer an opportunity for people to shake off their Valentine’s blues in an abnormally good way.
With online dating becoming the norm and people creating connections in more desensitized ways, a mixer in an atmosphere made up of stress and cooperation can forge some more lasting bonds. Bowen’s seen it first hand.
“A little while ago we had a bunch of tech employees from a company come in for a group outing. These people had worked and corresponded with each other online for years, but never met before,” Bowen said. “They met for the first time in our lobby and it was super awkward, but once they finished up the escape room they came out and were slapping hands and having a good time.”
Normally when a team fails to finish the escape room, they’re only left with “the shame of their own incompetence” as Belk adding jokingly. But an added bonus with failing to escape on Friday might dispel any notions about a fellow participant being Ms. or Mr. Right. Half the battle in dating is knowing what doesn’t work for you anyways.
If it’s any consolation, Bowen noted that singles that do return with a different someone to try the escape room again aren’t losing their discount. So really, what do you have to lose?Breakout – Falls Church is located at 1073 W Broad St #201, Falls Church.