Matchmaking is an old-fashioned trade, one that traditionally catered to older men looking for young brides. It happened in back offices, behind closed doors. The Modern Love Club subverts all that, bringing a colorful and openminded attitude to the matchmaking process. In this narrow East Village shop, nothing is for sale—but you might meet the love of your life.
It started around a decade ago, when Amy Van Doran noticed that even her most attractive, competent, interesting friends had difficulty finding dates. She began her matchmaking service as a performance art piece, but one without irony or cynicism. She would set up a booth that read “MATCHMAKER” (a la Peanuts’ Lucy van Pelt) in the park and invite strangers to chat with her. The stunt turned out to be successful—her clients preferred being set up to swiping, as it made for a more organic, honest date.
Fast forward to today, when Amy’s Modern Love Club has serviced around 7,000 clients. Those looking for love can submit themselves via the MLC website, or just waltz right into the brightly colored storefront to chat with the matchmaker. There’s no science to matching, but Amy says she envisions her clients as characters, complete with likes, dislikes, a childhood, and a romantic history, and imagines them with the other characters in her rolodex. The club’s physical space also acts as the “Love Museum,” with love-centric art adorning the colorful walls. It’s a spot to hang out and meet new people too: a “free date” bench in front allows strangers to park themselves and converse.
The Club wears a lot of different hats. Many passersby are unsure what to make of a East Village storefront that doesn’t sell anything. But no matter what people ask for, Amy’s guiding mission is to be useful. “If someone walked in and asked me to fix their shoe I would do it,” she said. When an art exhibition called “Sugar Lovers” led kids to believe the store was a candy shop, Amy began stocking sweets.
Amy expects the men to be as well-groomed and personable as their female counterparts, and also caters to the LGBTQ community. The clientele is no secret either–the club regularly hosts raucous single-mingle parties. As soon as you’ve crossed the threshold into the Modern Love Club you are in a non-judgmental, open space where everyone is curious about everyone else. In the end, that is really the purpose of the Modern Love Club. It doesn’t promise lifelong happiness or even a successful relationship, but it can certainly guarantee an enjoyable experience and human connection.
Know Before You Go
The space is accessible by appointment only. The Modern Love Club hosts parties and events that focus on love from time to time.