A new service arranges eight blind dates in a single outing.

AUBURN – Long enough for a first impression – but not too long.

That’s the idea of 8minuteDating, a new singles service that sets strangers up on eight blind dates, for eight minutes each, in the span of one evening.

In two years, the Boston-based company has held events in 55 cities setting up more than 60,000 people.

Carol Carpentier, a Lewiston woman, saw a “Today” show segment on 8minuteDating last winter. Intrigued, she checked out the company’s Web site, watched an evening of round-robin dating in Portland and signed up to be an event host.

She’s throwing her first 8minuteDating affair April 15, targeting single professionals between the ages of 30 and 40. A second event on May 6 targets 40- to 50-year-olds.

The Midnight Blues Club will serve as the backdrop for each, picked for its atmosphere, she said.

Men and women aren’t asked any particulars when they sign up, Carpentier said. The “dates” – essentially seating assignments, one couple per table -are completely random.

Breaking the ice

8minuteDating offers participants some starter questions -Where are you from? What’s your favorite flower? -and some tongue-in-cheek advice on its Web page: “We recommend that you shower and brush your teeth at least one week before the event.”

And there are certain rules in conversation, like no asking for last names or phone numbers and no asking for second dates.

The first date of the evening is inevitably a little awkward, Carpentier said. People aren’t quite sure what to expect.

“Some people think eight minutes is too long, some people think it’s not long enough. I guess it depends on who you’re matched with,” she said.

The event hinges on equal numbers. She’s had more women than men sign up so far, leaving her to scout fire stations, police departments and “anywhere that men would hang out.”

She’s hoping for at least 10 of each sex at each party. Each evening, after date number four, there’s an intermission to mingle with singles you weren’t set up with, she said.

Within 48 hours of an event, participants log onto the company’s Internet page and write down the names of people they’d like to see again for either dating, friendship or business. If the other person picked them for the same category, e-mail addresses are exchanged.

Carpentier said she’s been asked about holding events aimed at people under 30, or over 50, and she may do that depending upon the success of the first two.

There’s a fee for the service, $28.88.

The company boasts that 90 percent of the time people meet someone they’d like to see again, and more than 60 percent of cases the feeling is mutual.

“I think it’s a more relaxed way of meeting people,” she said. “My goal is definitely 100 percent, but I’ll be happy with 90.”

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