Clubhouse, an invite-only audio app where users can create rooms to talk about anything, is home to pretty weird rooms – from one where people moan like whales to another titled “Why can’t American men talk to hot girls?”
While parts of the world have started opening up, India (where I live) is still under partial lockdown. Over the past year, I’ve grown bored of dating apps since they provided almost no room for IRL, unfiltered conversations that might help me get to know people better.
So, when I saw all these new-age love stories, I wondered: Could Clubhouse rooms end my dry spell, too, and kickstart my #HotGirlSummer? I tried to find out.
I thought I’d start off with the common Shoot Your Shot rooms on Clubhouse. Here, you can see everyone else in the room on a list with tiny profile pictures, and moderators can ask someone from the group to take the mic and pitch themselves as dateable – either to a specific person or to the group as a whole. The person being hit on can either accept it or turn it down. If they accept it, you can ask them if it’s okay to take it to the next level: sliding into their Instagram DMs.
I was excited about this format since it gives a chance for actual conversations instead of a “hey, u up?” message on dating apps.
The first room I entered was called “Shoot Your Shot with The Sexiest People on Clubhouse” followed by some fire emojis. The room had attractive people using the same, overused pickup lines like, “Is your father a terrorist? Because you’re the bomb.”
Bored, I left this room and joined another where a 41-year-old Bollywood casting director was one of the moderators. Soon, literally everyone was hitting on him, possibly hoping to land a gig. It got kinda awkward so I left.
My second day wasn’t any better. My first room of the day was called “Shoot Your Shot with A TWIST” and had people from all over the globe. Even before I could find out what the twist in the game was, a moderator informed everyone that the room was for folks over the age of 25. So much for being Gen-Z.
Around this time, I decided to change my approach. What if I thirst trapped my way into getting hit on? I rummaged through my archives and found a photo of me wearing red lipstick, and where my skin is glowing. It worked on my dating profiles earlier so maybe it would here, too?
Armed with a new look, I entered another room of 300 people playing Shoot Your Shot and, surprisingly, I got invited to be on the speakers’ panel. So, was my red lipstick finally working, or was it just a lucky day? I noticed a hot guy named Karan and I shot my shot at him, which he accepted. When someone “accepts,” you can ask them if you can slide into their DMs on Instagram, but I forgot to do that.
However, calling a stranger “hot” isn’t nearly enough to get a virtual date with them. I found Karan’s Instagram but chose not to message him because it was a private account, and I thought it wouldn’t be appropriate since I didn’t ask him earlier.
Over the next few days, I came across more bizarre India-based Shoot Your Shot rooms – from clickbait-y rooms like one titled “Virtual Hookups,” where I expected a virtual orgy only to find it was just another game of Fuck, Marry, Kill, to a room where people spoke only in Bollywood pickup lines like “tum oxygen aur main double hydrogen, humari chemistry ekdum pani ki tarah hai,” which translates to “you’re oxygen and I’m double hydrogen, our chemistry is like water.”
There was also a room where people dedicated Hindi songs of intense longing and yearning to literal strangers. I stuck around hoping someone might use a classic Bollywood line on me. No one did.
A majority of these rooms are filled with cis-het people and, as a queer person, I’m tired of asking if there are any queer women in the room and if they’re comfortable with being asked out. I usually ask them to flash their mics (which is kinda like clapping, or acknowledging) and I do this because I want to remain respectful of people’s boundaries. I just wish the algorithm showed me more LGBTQ+ Shoot Your Shot rooms because searching on the app didn’t lead to anything. I was tired of being asked, “Who’s the lucky guy?” by some men. I haven't had any “lucky guys” in my life since I decided to stop dating men a year ago.
Convinced I was being unrealistic with the app, I reached out to Laura Bilotta, a dating coach of over 19 years, to know if finding love was possible in Clubhouse rooms.
“Absolutely,” she replied over email. “A voice-based platform helps to create more intimate, deeper connections without many of the other distractions.”
Bilotta herself has been running singles rooms on Clubhouse for a few months now. “I've seen firsthand the kind of connections that can come from them – we're giving thousands of singles a chance to connect every week. Through these rooms, we've seen new relationships form, and have even had couples that have crossed borders to meet.”
Bilotta also recommends putting your social media accounts in your bio and taking the opportunity to talk yourself up. “You have a limited amount of time to make a first impression, so be confident, share something that makes you special, and give your crush a reason to want to get to know you,” she said.
But at this point, I was tired of juggling dating rooms and hearing terrible pickup lines. Instead, I thought of hitting on someone I had connected with in a non-dating room.
C, who requested that I use only his first initial for the sake of his privacy, is an Indian researcher at a university in Canada. We met when he accidentally joined a room where a friend and I were talking. He soon followed me on Instagram, and we bonded over our love for dogs, road trips and Spanish guitars. My nocturnal sleep cycle means we talk when it's evening in Canada and early morning in India. I think he’s a nice guy, but I don’t see this going forward so I guess I’m just going to friendzone him.
Everyone whose DMs I tried sliding into after flirting with them in a dating room responded at least a week later. Unfortunately for them, I had already lost interest by then.
Clubhouse did introduce me to some really nice people who became internet friends, but my dating stint on the app was an epic fail. I don’t know how I feel about picking people from just a list even though I kinda do the same thing while on a dating app. Maybe it’s because people are reduced to tiny profile pictures, and going to their profile to check out their social media is too much work. Speakers usually say stuff like “I’d like to go for [name]” or “I choose [name]” when it’s their turn to go up in a Shoot Your Shot room. But in my head, that just sounds like a Subway order or choosing a Pokémon for a battle.
Overall, Clubhouse rooms can be really exhausting if you’re anything like me and group conversations drain you. I felt like I was placed in the middle of a chaotic dating show with no idea of what to do. It might also be difficult to find love or even a virtual date in it since a lot of people enter matchmaking rooms out of curiosity or thinking it’s a game. After being in multiple rooms, I got more followers but also creepy DMs on my Instagram. The hassle of blocking and reporting creeps is way more annoying than being single.