MAYA ROSE FERNANDES
Vijaya Josephine Pais is the creator and curator of Offbeat Goa and a host of other initiatives including ‘UNSWIPE’, which is an offline dating meetup initiative for people looking to meet new people in a safe space.
Gomantak Times Digital interviewed Vijaya to find out more about it.
Tell us a bit about Offbeat Goa and its connection with the State?
Offbeat Goa is a Goa-based initiative that aims to give back to the land that we are all living off. It started off as a Facebook group in 2014 and has since turned into a large, very helpful community. We are now on other digital platforms like Instagram and Whatsapp with a collective organic reach of over 80K members where we share our own initiative and other events, experiences and establishments that are offbeat or promote sustainability in some way.
For example, there’s the Good Karma Treasure Shop which addresses the textile waste crisis, it’s Goa’s first physical thrift store where we sell pre-loved items, with 25 per cent going to local NGOs every month. Most of my initiatives start with a problem and finding a solution to it. Then there’s the Sisterhood of Goa meetups for women where we’ve covered topics and had workshops around self defence, legal rights, money management, perimenopause, inner child healing and more.
We opened our offline space called the Offbeat Goa Space in October 2022 which also has our inhouse 24-hour pocket friendly cafe called Cafe-We, our collaboration with Shine Hair Studio and the backspace is where most of our meet-ups, events, workshops and concerts take place.
Tell us about UNSWIPE and how it came to be formed?
UNSWIPE is an offline dating meetup for people who are looking to meet new people in a safe space. I noticed how superficial the online dating apps are, where everyone is primarily sized up based on how they look and how they write their tiny bio. UNSWIPE is the antithesis to these online apps where you get to meet new people in person, without any pressure. You can come away from it having just made some new friends too.
What’s its purpose?
The purpose is to meet new people in a fun, easy-going mixer sort of way. You approach it with an open mind, while leaving all judgement and pretences at the door. It takes the pressure off of having to find someone to spend your life with here. You really could just come away from it finding new friends and connections.
Tell us how it works.
We have age brackets and we ask people to fill a short form where we get to know them a little bit. We also ask if people are married or in relationships, as this isn’t the right mixer for them. Someone from our team then calls all the participants after which more information is shared with them. If everything checks out, we send a payment link to book their place for the day, and then the location.
How many meetings have you had so far and how has it gone from your point of view?
We’ve had three so far and the feedback has been great. A lot of people are asking us when the next one is. A few people requested smaller age brackets, which we are working on developing.
Please share with us some of the rewards and challenges you’ve encountered so far.
Dating in these digital times isn’t the easiest, hence finding people to connect and get along with is quite rewarding. One challenge is always maintaining the balance between the genders. We always try to maintain equal numbers and we’ve managed this so far. It’s so refreshing to see so many women open up to these sorts of events and it’s even more refreshing to find so many nice human beings over all!
What’s next for UNSWIPE?
Our next UNSWIPE event is on February 24, and there’s a vetting form you can get from us or via a QR scan code people can access from the poster if they want to fill the form. For more details, reach out to us via @offbeatgoa on Instagram.