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The woman behind Bad Dates of Melbourne

By Aurelia St Clair

Bad Dates of Melbourne (BDOM) started as a hobby for founder Alita “Ali” Brydon and it hit a nerve - the BDOM Instagram has more than 15,000 followers and the Facebook page has more than 161,000. There’s also the Bad Dates of Australia community so the nation can share about their horror dating stories.

Ali’s got her finger on the pulse of the modern dating scene and the BRAVE team asked comedian and Popgays podcast co-host Aurelia St Clair to chat to Ali about the phenomenon she created!

Aurelia: All true BDOM fan knows, you love nugs. What’s your go-to Maccas order?

Ali: I’m a nugs fanatic. Nugs, fries, one Cajun dipping sauce and one BBQ sauce. The sauce selection is critical to a satisfying Maccas run – and I highly recommend you invest in your future wellbeing by having a few ‘emergency sauces’ at home, in case they forget. I have nine.

When and why did you start BDOM?

I love me a Tinder date. I’ve had many amazing - and occasionally not so amazing - experiences. For years I was telling my dodgy date stories to friends and family – and they were keen for me to write a book. Then one day I thought... these are bite size stories - perfect for social media. I started posting whatever tales I could rustle up, along with jokes and commentary on swipe life, and by week three 1.6 million people across Australia had seen a BDOM post. It really struck a nerve. That was almost four years ago now. These days the Page is very focused on community, self-esteem and laughter. It’s a nice place on the internet and the people are wonderful.

Have you noticed a difference in submissions to the page since the start of the pandemic?

The pandemic hasn’t stopped dating. Most of the stories that have been coming in have happened in the period between lockdowns; are historical tales; or are of in-app experiences. People are frustrated with COVID – but generally are finding a COVID safe way around it through chat and video calls. According to a recent Tinder survey, 40 percent of Gen Z Tinder members are planning on continuing on digital dates – for example video dates - even as date spots re-open. It’s a big shift.

Probably the most notable change of late has been that vaccination has become a hot dating topic. For example, on Tinder, you can add a sticker to your profile to show you’re vaccinated or are planning to be. You don’t need to swipe long to see it pop up in bios. It’s important to people.

Do you have a favourite Covid dating story? Favourite overall story?

My favourite COVID dating story. A woman went on a video date during lockdown. Things were going well – but she wanted to be a bit more comfortable and decided to chee

ky change out of her pants into her pyjamas. Very relatable! She stepped out of shot to quickly change, but didn’t realise she was still able to be seen by her date, in the reflection of a mirror in the room. An accidental knickers flash! That relationship is still going strong.

I could never choose an overall favourite story. They’re all incredible! I am really grateful people write in and I don’t think I’ve ever read a submission that didn’t have something interesting about it. BDOM followers know there’s a trend of people vomiting on a date and then the relationship leading to a long-lasting marriage. I like those ones – but I’m also fond of any stories that involve embarrassing bodily function.

An important one: Do you really believe that love doesn’t cross the Yarra?

I’ll never know. I live in a houseboat that floats in the middle of the Yarra, allowing me to date everyone across the city. That being said, sometimes I sell ‘LOVE CANNOT CROSS THE YARRA’ tote bags. So in the interests of commerce, yes, definitely, it cannot cross, please buy my merchandise.

What do you think the dating world is going to look like in a “covid-normal” world?

People will be going on video dates before committing to face-to-face dates. I think it’s a good thing – you’re going into the in-person date feeling more confident, with less investment. It’s very relaxed. I also have a feeling we’re going to be a little more chill about what we wear on a date. I’m not ready to stop wearing my lockdown uniform of leggings and baggy t-shirts. You can’t make me.

Someone once asked me what my perfect first date would look like. What's yours?

Standing on Brunswick Street in front of a chicken nugget shop, he stared deep into her eyes and, not minding the crowd, trailed his fingers over her delicate skin. It had been a magical night: their meal was paid for equally, no one had shat their pants and the banter was incredible. They both went to her apartment - without anyone needing to cross the Yarra, because, “as if”. As per Melbourne mating tradition, the next day, she vomited everywhere, and five years later, they got married – except then they divorced because single life is more fun.

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