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November 4, 2005
Section: A Section
Page: 1A

El Paso is fifth-worst dating city, study finds
Ramon Bracamontes
ĽAmbulance: 569-2331.

El Paso Times
Walking into a coffeehouse in El Paso may get you more than a skinny vanilla latte or a triple-tall 2 percent mocha.

A coffeehouse may be among the best places where you can find a date if you are single, a little more mature than college age and looking to "hook up."

Coffeehouses, according to some experts, are locations to see and be seen and great places to find your next date.

In El Paso, that's important because the city is the fifth- worst place in which to find a date, according to Axe's "Best Cities for Hooking Up in America" study, released Thursday. Seattle is No. 1. Birmingham, Ala., is last.

The study is based on the analysis of 33 sets of criteria, including the divorce rate, the ratio of men to women, the number of lingerie stores, the amount of money spent on alcohol, flowers bought as gifts and the number of coffeehouses.

El Paso was ranked 76th overall because it ranked low in almost every category except one -- the number of coffeehouses per capita. Dating experts say coffeehouses, of which El Paso has more than 30, are a great, neutral place to meet people.

"If you're looking in El Paso, coffee shops are good place to start," said Anna David, a sex and relationship writer for Playboy.

"At most coffeehouses you find people working on laptops," David said. "Well, everyone knows that you can work on your laptop at home or in the office. So what these people may be saying is, 'I want someone to ask me what I'm working on,' which is a way of saying they want to meet someone."

That is probably true, said Shanon Goodwin, 29, an El Paso karaoke deejay who frequents Jitter's Coffee House in the 6100 block of Montana Avenue. He was there Thursday afternoon, drinking coffee, working on his laptop, updating his company's Web site, LaVidaVocals.djcentral.com.

"You can't go out to a nightclub here and find someone decent," he said. "This place is a better environment and you don't get hassled, but you do get to meet people who are professional, career-oriented or going to school."

Ana Clarissa Holguin, 21, an employee at Jitter's, also agrees with the coffeehouse advice.

"There are always professionals here," she said. "You see people walk in alone and they do start talking to others who are here drinking coffee, working on their laptops. We have some regulars."

One reason El Paso was ranked toward the bottom of the dating list is that it ranked low in the number of available people, and in the ratio of women to men.

According to the U.S. Census, El Paso has more single women than single men. For every 100 single men, there are 151 women. This is the second-highest women-to-men ratio in the country, according to the 2000 Census. Only Henrico County in Virginia was higher.

El Paso also ranks low in the number of young people. The Census Bureau reports that El Paso continues to lose more people in the 20 to 34 age group than any other county in Texas.

To help ease the dating problem, Cupid.com/Predating is starting "speed dating" in El Paso. Speed dating is aimed at making it easier for divorced or single people in their late 30s, 40s and 50s to find a date, said Tondaleya Shamley, the Cupid.com El Paso event coordinator.

"This age group doesn't want to go through the whole nightclub scene," Shamley said.

Two speed dating session have been set for Thursday and Nov. 12 at Panache L'experience Nightclub. In speed dating, women sit in chairs in a room, while the men rotate.

Every six minutes a whistle blows and the men must move to the next chair and start talking to the next woman.

"If anyone wants to meet a person later, they hand us a scorecard and we send them e-mails," Shamley said. "These are safe face-to-face encounters."

Graphic: The hook up

The best and worst cities in which to find a date.

Top 10

1. Seattle

2. Honolulu

3. San Francisco

4. Austin

5. San Diego

6. Portland, Ore.

7. Providence, R.I.

8. New York

9. Denver

10. Baltimore

Bottom 10

71. Greenville, S.C.

72. Kansas City, Kan.

73. Hartford, Conn.

74. Detroit

75. Memphis, Tenn.

76. El Paso

77. Ventura, Calif.

78. Tulsa, Okla.

79. Bakersfield, Calif.

80. Birmingham, Ala.


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