On Valentine's night, The Problem With Dating teamed up with Citizens of Culture to curate a social experiment and memorable event based on the idea of intimacy. As some of you may recall, I explored the idea of intimacy and how I feel it's become a lost art in a previous post, and for that reason, my friend Maceo Paisley and I teamed up to help bring people a night of chipping away at our walls, so that we may get back in tune with ourselves and the beauty of human connection.
The event took place at Chinatown's Nous Touse gallery in downtown Los Angeles, and over 20 open (yet also slightly hesitant) people gathered together to see what we had in store. With the help of some wine, beer and some tunes from our DJ for the night Marina Moreno, guests began to open up to what the night entailed.
Maceo and I curated a list of exercises to help bring people out of their shell and strengthen their communication skills, which we carried out concurrently by splitting the group in half.
Maceo spearheaded the Hand-Eye Connection activity, which had guests pair up and work on their eye contact, while also doing some storytelling and showing off their art skills (or lack thereof lol). For four minutes, one partner conducted a blind contour drawing (tracing the features of your partner's face without looking down at the paper or lifting their pen), while the other person answered a prompt that we gave to them. Afterwards, they switched roles. This activity attempted to strip us of the awkwardness we may feel when maintaining eye contact for long periods of time, and instead refocus on being present in the conversation.
Meanwhile, I conducted the Perceive Me game, which was scary, to be frank. Guests lined up in two rows facing each other. With some help from my printed guidelines, one row was asked to give their first impressions of the person standing in front of them. What conclusions do you draw based on their face, attire and body language? What kind of person do they seem just from their appearance?
Yes, we were judging people, but guess what? We do this every day.
The person being perceived was not allowed to get defensive, and had to just take in the perception being made of them while making a mental note of what they're hearing. Did it align with who they are as a person? If not, what energies were they subconsciously putting out and what could they do to alter that? This was also done with the awareness that your partner may be projecting their own assumptions or conclusions on you, so not to take anything personally.
After voicing these impressions, along with a detail about the person that many may overlook, we shifted partners and gave the other row the chance to perceive someone else.
Following the activities, we gathered everyone together in a big group and had them pair up with someone they hadn't spoken to yet. Our friend Jeanne Heo led the crowd into participating in a version of Carl Jung's famous psychology game comprised of three questions, which helped highlight certain qualities that they may not have realized they admire when it comes to themselves, a partner and love. This seemed to be a favorite of most guests.
Overall, the night was a success, and it was evident by the number of strangers who sparked conversations by the end of the night. But, don't take my word for it, of course.
Here's what some guests had to say about INTO.ME.SEE:
"Bruna and Maceo created a really fun and deeply intimate experience among strangers. We left with a deeper awareness of ourselves and each other. Their event reminded me of the depth of human connection that is possible, but that we rarely take advantage of. The space was filled with honesty, vulnerability, love and openness and I actually felt closer to the people in that room than I have with individuals I've spent Valentine's Days with one on one," -Ani Baker
"Though, I must admit, it was not something I would have thought to go to on my own, I am so glad my friend invited me to join them for the INTO ME SEE evening. I felt it was an important evening of sharing and openness. The leaders of the gathering were passionate and helpful guiding us all through our initial hesitations with sharing. If more people were able to have experiences like this, I believe we'd all be able to have better human being relationship exchanges without all the anxiety of presumptions. I'd definitely recommend that my other friends attend the next session," -Marcus Omari
"Wow. The INTOMESEE experience was so powerful. Initially I was hesitant and a little unsure about what I thought I was getting myself into, but I'm glad I stuck around and dove in. Bruna and Maceo really thought out the process and saw to it that everyone who was there and willing to participate could get something out of it. It was really interesting and cool to see how the strangers that walked into the exercise became fast acquaintances and friends as our walls began to fall and we began to see each other and ourselves. Once again, job well done!," -Brandon Francis
"From the selection of the venue, to the exercises that they had attendees run through, you could tell everything had been carefully thought out and curated. Especially impressive was the skill with which they gave out well-spoken instructions and feedback to get those in attendance to really delve into the exercises. The exercise that capped the workshop had you pair up with a fellow attendee and answer the questions what is your favorite color, animal and body of water and why. This to me was the most thought provoking exercise and gave me a great conversation starter to take away with me and have with other friends and maybe potential lovers? ;) If INTO.ME.SEE was any indication of what is yet to come, without a doubt you want to keep a look out for what else Bruna will be doing with her dating platform. I know I will be!" -Diana Romero
"INTOMESEE is a great introduction to intimacy and self awareness, which we all could use a bit more of. Creativity mixed with play can only lead to good things," -Natalie Patterson
"As my friend Kris and I were walking back to my car, we were talking about how much fun we had. I told him that it was really refreshing to meet new people who aren't afraid to try new things and are just willing to go for it. INTOMESEE not only taught us more about ourselves as individuals, but also how we are as a people when gathered together. In this day and age, we are so busy looking at our smartphones that we forget to focus on ourselves and also to people who are right in front of our faces," -Matt Eugenio
Special shout-out and thank you to our photographer Sadao Turner and videographer Cristian for capturing this wonderful event for us.