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DC dating pool not selective enough for you? Well, now there’s The League

The “equalist” dating app celebrated its arrival in D.C. with a launch party last week. Hmm.

At The League's DC launch party. (Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

Everyone in the bar around me is good-looking and well put together and, judging by the fact that I’m spending my night on 14th and U but also because of the precise aims of this event, I’m sure they’re all accomplished and successful as well. That doesn’t seem to be helping conversation flow, though.
Around the room, I watch men stare awkwardly into their drinks and women chat nervously with other women. If this is how the best of the best take on dating, I’ll pass, thank you.

FYI. (Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

FYI. (Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)


I’m at the D.C. launch event for the dating app The League — an app that launched in San Francisco in 2014 to various cries of concern over elitism. See, The League, as founder Amanda Bradford told prospective D.C. members last week, aspires to be “the Harvard of dating apps.” It’s intentionally selective about the people it allows to join and mines your LinkedIn data to match you with “similar” well-educated, type-A individuals. Here, the philosophy “opposites attract” is definitively on the outs.
“It isn’t an app for everybody,” Bradford told the New York Times in 2015. “We’re trying to hit home that these people do have high standards. They’re not accepting everybody.”
Since launch in San Francisco, The League has expanded to New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and now D.C., and raised $2.28 million in funding. The company has also made some limited attempts to soften its appearance of exclusionary elitism — “Equalist. Not Elitist.” is a top tagline.
Concerns over whether “equalist” is a real word or not aside, this feels like some kind of ninja trick of marketing. And that said, marketing and branding is arguably what it’s all about in the dating app space, especially given the crowd of other options. It’s certainly what Thursday evening’s launch party was all about — from the logo-bearing pins and yo-yos (?), to the wall-coating posters declaring #DryEraEnds, an allusion to the party’s 1933 end-of-prohibition era theme.
To The League’s credit, it doesn’t try to pretend it can offer something for everyone. Perhaps that’s a strength — though it’s worth nothing the app has two out of a possible five stars in the app store.
Still, think The League might be for you? Shine on, you exacting individual. The official launch is Nov. 22 — good luck getting off that waitlist.

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