She eats out so much she's a self-proclaimed nutritionist’s nightmare. Content creator turned matchmaker Rylee Cooper, the face behind popular Instagram account Date Night Adelaide, is hosting sell-out events for dates and mates.
Meet Adelaide’s date night guru bringing back the art of conversation
Rylee Cooper is a vibes girlie.
“Vibes” is a word you’ll see pop up on her Instagram page, Date Night Adelaide, frequently. It’s a defining feature of her brand and part of how she’s built trust with her audience.
“The content that I create focuses on the experience of being there as opposed to what you should buy,” Rylee tells CityMag.
When looking for a place to go, whether it be for a meal, a stay or an activity, she looks for the vibes – prioritising good company and service as defining features of a date night, with the environment just as important as the menu.
“You can have the best food and if you have garbage service, I’m never coming back,” she says.
“I will put service above food every single time because I think it’s the experience that you have in the place over whether or not this ramen is the best ramen you’ve ever had.”
In the business of vibes, Rylee has carved out an expectation of trust with her followers by only putting content on her page that she genuinely enjoys and would realistically go to, even if it creates awkwardness with business owners who send her invites.
“It’s really hard because I love small businesses and I know it takes a great passion to make them work,” she says.
“You have to weigh up both the value of what you will be doing for the business, but also knowing what your audience likes.
“There are some pages that push everything, they are an encyclopaedia for where you should go… and they do a great job and their videos do really well so there are platforms for those small businesses.”
When it comes to turning her follower count – an impressive 36.5K at the time of writing – into a community, Rylee says the story feature on Instagram is crucial, even if story views are a smaller percentage of your total following.
“I’ll have story views sit anywhere between five and 10k,” she says.
“I love that feature because I think it takes away a lot of what holds people back from connecting with people, which is if they reply to an answer or something on your story or because you put up a question box, nobody else can see that.
“That takes away the fear of if they were going to comment on a post, that’s very public, and they don’t know what the reaction will be.”
This ability to talk directly to someone in a story reply rather than engaging publicly is symptomatic of a larger trend Rylee is seeing when it comes to meeting people: we don’t have to fail in public thanks to social media, so some of us have forgotten how to try.
“You know what, I’d hate to agree with boomers, I hate to do it. But they have a fair point that the art of conversation is becoming a bit lost,” Rylee says.
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“I can say this knowing that I’m of this generation… there’s a lot of people uncomfortable with silence or that don’t know how to keep a conversation going because they’re so used to there being so little risk in that connection, whether that be a romantic connection or a friendship connection.
“People are so used to doing it over text, which again is not public, nobody can see if you fail which means that people are now opposed to the risk of approaching new people.”
To take the fear out of face-to-face connection, Rylee began hosting events. The first – a quiz night at Yellow Matter – sold out within 24 hours. Her second event, tonight at Bank Street Social, sold out in less than two.
Bank Street Social x Date Night Adelaide
48 Hindley St, Adelaide SA 5000
Thursday, February 8.
Doors open to the public at 9:30pm
For those more inclined to a nature-based activity, she’s started social hikes to get groups together on the weekend and stay active. The first one had 20 attendees.
“You know when you throw a house party or something and an hour beforehand you have this existential dread that nobody’s going to come, and everybody hates you?
“Yep, I had that panic both times. I’ll have it again, I’m sure,” she admits with a laugh.
The Yellow Matter event was a collaboration with quiz group the Weekly Fifty. The Bank Street Social event is not a quiz night, with attendees aged 20-35 participating in a different activity that Rylee keeps secret from CityMag.
When attendees buy a ticket to Rylee’s events, they’re asked a few questions about themselves and what they’re looking for to help her curate the seating chart.
“We asked for a fun fact about you because then we use that fun fact to pair you with people who have similar things… it was so fun,” she says.
“One of my friends who I knew was going to put his fun fact as he really likes Lego and then there was this girl who said, ‘just looking for someone to build my Lego sets with’ and I was like ‘I’m going to sit you guys on the same table’ … they talked about Lego and went on a date later!”
But don’t confuse it with speed dating, which Rylee dislikes because of how much pressure it puts on individuals to force a conversation.
“[Speed dating] can sometimes become an interview process, I think you don’t have good ample time to assess the vibe, I’m a big vibes girlie,” she says.
Instead, she groups tables of six based on what guests are looking for to “leave the training wheels on”. Rylee says groups of six aren’t as intimidating as a larger group, but not too small and intimate that they emulate an awkward double date.
She includes icebreakers and conversation starters, such as handwritten coasters with pick-up lines on them, lovingly written herself – or in the case of her first event, frantically scribbled the day of.
As for why she thinks our city has gotten around her events so quickly?
“Adelaide is one of those places where you grow up with people or you go to school with people and then it’s really difficult to get outside of those bubbles,” Rylee says.
“I’m a big advocate for there being no disadvantage to connecting with new people.
“I don’t believe that if you have enough friends, you suddenly don’t need to worry about making new ones, I think that it only benefits you to have positive interactions with new people.
“If you’re saying from a purely selfish standpoint, just because one day it might benefit you. One day, you might need to call that person up so they can, I don’t know, fix your car.”
Date Night Adelaide’s event at Bank Street Social tonight is sold out, but they’ll open the doors to the general public at 9:30pm if you’re eager to meet people who have built up the confidence to strike up a chat with a stranger.
Keep an eye on her Instagram for future events, which she assures CityMag there’ll be more of, featuring some of her favourite businesses and connections she’s made through her page.