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It was a way of saying 'I belong to youth culture.'"While the sexual license of "petting parties" shocked Jazz Age parents, by the 1940s and 1950s group-dating was encouraged for reasons of propriety."Parents wanted to keep their daughters from being alone with a man, since having a child out of wedlock would ruin your life back then," says Ms. And, of course, many religious communities have continued to promote group-dating throughout the 20th century.By HANNAH SELIGSON To the untrained eye and ear, the scene of young professionals sipping cocktails with a steady stream of popular music playing in the background seemed like a typical Thursday night at Forum, a trendy Union Square watering hole for those born around, say, 1983.The only clues that there could be something out of the ordinary taking place were a bright orange sign that said "Ignighter" and a large supply of blue drink tickets that were cycling through the crowd.Iam Free allows its 70,000 users to post double-date and group-date listings.Meet New People, a Facebook dating application, has more than three million users who post when they are free to "hang out" and RSVP to group gatherings.
Participants go bowling, take a hiking trip or try a night at the Philharmonic. "There's been a long history of group-dating in this country," says Beth Bailey, the author of "From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth Century America." "In the 1920s, people went to 'petting parties,' where young people made out in the presence of their peers.
In many ways, 21st-century group-dating is a confluence of its past iterations.
It's become a way for people to identify with youth culture, the Facebook generation's rebellion against the traditional dating model, and a means for women to dial down the pressure of today's hypersexualized dating scene.
Especially for recent college graduates who suddenly find themselves without the social anchors of a campus, going out on "a random," as Internet dates are referred to, is like jumping into a pool of sharks.
Ignighter.com, a free site geared toward 20-somethings (their median age is 24), was created in 2007 to solve these problems.