TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - Hundreds of tech-savvy singles armed with their smartphones will gather for parties across Canada on Saturday hoping to land a date in time for Valentine's Day.
Instead of resorting to the Internet or speed dating to find a potential mate, they will be attending Flitter parties, a play on the word flirting and the microblogging website Twitter.
More than 300 people are expected at the invitation-only, paid event in Toronto. Similar parties, which are advertised on the Internet, will also be held in Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal on the eve of Valentine's Day.
Singles looking for a date can try to spark a match with another tweeter in 140 characters or less, using their mobile devices, and creative tweeting skills.
"Everything we do is designed to get people out of their shells, have an excuse to go up to other people and talk to them and to have fun," said Justin Parfitt, founder and CEO of Fastlife, the Canadian dating service provider which originated the Flitter parties.
"There must be some way of getting people to interact using their work devices, such as their Blackberrys or iPhones and use them to make people feel social as oppose to anti-social," said Parfitt.
Everyone attending the party signs up or activates a Twitter account before the event. When they arrive they will be given a number tag to wear.
When someone spots a person of interest all they have to do is tweet the person's number with a short flirty message, which will appear on a giant screen set up in the room and visible to all guests.
The tweeter can sign off with his or her assigned number or send an anonymous message or compliment. The recipient can decide to respond and meet the tweeter if they are interested, or just read the anonymous compliment and move on.
All messages must end the tweet with the word "Flitter."
Parfitt said the parties, which are being held for the first time in Canada, are different from speed dating events, because they are usually larger and less structured. And not everyone who attends is there to meet someone.
"What you want for a large party for singles is something that is spontaneous, which is fun, which doesn't rely on everybody being synchronized," he explained in an interview.
Reporting by Irene Kuan; Editing by Patricia Reaney.